Reflections…

Mid January, coming up on my first year writing fiction, and I’m taking a short pause to plan and organize. Between acclimating to Weight Watchers (it’s all about your mindset, really), and the flurry of submissions I’ve sent out over the past 5-6 weeks, it has been a hectic time, and I’d like to catch my breath for a moment or two.

So far in 2018 (all 14 days worth), I’ve begun breaking ground on a first novel, and have added 4 new short stories to the roster. I’ve had a print acceptance for “Trappe’s Rest”, and “Tumor” will be on the January episode of Dennis Serra’s “Evil Podcast” starting tomorrow, the second tale Dennis has chosen to use.

tumor eye

I have 11 other stories out at different markets, and am waiting for their status. It may be a bold move for a newbie like myself, but I’ve also provided “Bequeath” to the jury for consideration in the short story category at the Bram Stoker awards.

Horror-writers-association02

I have a few other partial ideas in the background, simmering as they tend to do, jotting down notes on everything that occurs to me. You never know when you’ll find exactly what you need in among those quick notes.

I’m also looking for ideas and themes for the website. I’m not even sure of what I’m looking for, but my gut tells me I’ll know it when I see it. There’s nothing wrong with it as it is, but I’m leaning toward a complete overhaul. Again, I’ll know it when I see it, so I’ll keep on looking around.

Ingram finally responded to my complaint about the print run, which my experience clearly shows as their error, so we’ll see what happens there. Meantime, I had Lulu do a short run of 10, which were absolutely perfect. I have 10 more coming, and will be getting them off to friends as soon as I can. Hats off to Lulu, who I will be turning to in the future. I’ll accept whatever offer I get from Ingram, just to put an end to that learning experience.

All this, in addition to the day job that pays the bills, and family obligations. Yep, I’m looking forward to week after next. I have the week off, and plan to reorganize and clean up the home office.

Unless, of course, I’m writing something new…

GA Working

Getting back into the swing of things…

The last week has been a new challenge for me, which occupied most of my attention, but it was worth it.

My wife and I joined Weight Watchers, and I found out at tonight’s weigh-in at the meeting that I lost 10.2 pounds already, so it’s safe to say this works!

It also served as a great inspiration for a new story…take someone going on a diet program, and combine that with a call for submissions for horror stories that involve pizza? Challenge Accepted!

The story is called “Pie”, and it’s about ready for another editing pass, and then it’s off to the publishers for their consideration.

Woke up this morning to a happy message in my email, Econoclash Review very much liked my story “Trappe’s Rest”, and would like to include it in their next issue! First acceptance of the new year, and a great wake up on a Monday morning for me.

Their forte is Pulp/Noir/Horror, and “Trappe’s Rest” has that vibe to it, so I believe it will be a very good fit.

ECR one

Turn the page…

New Year’s Eve is here, and it’s time to reflect on my first year’s attempt at writing. In mid January, I decided to try my hand at writing fiction, as the arthritis in my hands had progressed to where I no longer had the requisite flexibility to play bass and guitar properly, and attempts to do so were both frustrating and painful.

To fill that enormous void, writing seemed the logical choice. I’d considered writing numerous times in the past, but had always procrastinated. I’d told myself I had other things, mainly music, to work on, but…was it more a fear of failure that held me back?

It was time to find out, so I dove into the murky waters. My life jacket was a pen name, so that if I turned out to be an abysmal failure, I could make “him” disappear, no harm, no foul. As it happens, he’s become a very popular fellow, more so than his creator!

What to write about was never a question. I didn’t choose Horror as a genre, Horror had already chosen me. I’d been a lifelong fan of horror movies and books, even before the Beatles made their debut on Sullivan and caught my ear so very long ago. Zacherly had been delivering horror to our B&W TV for some time before the Beatles landed.

Zacherley

I was also intrigued by Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, which explored the most remarkable “What If?” scenarios every week, fueling my own imagination…

Serling

So, off I went. My friend MJ Zander (a.k.a. “Coach”) kindly took the time to go through my earliest attempts, pointing out the errors I’d made in the basics of structuring a story, as well as better choices to consider as the story progressed. That was the start of a foundation, which I reinforced by taking a couple of seminars and reading volumes of educational material.

It’s important, as well as necessary, to express just how helpful her “edit/seminar” has been. Without her patient guidance, I’d never have progressed to the point of being accepted for publication at all. Thanks, Coach!

But the work has paid off. I’ve actually published numerous short stories during the year, and have produced enough tales to cobble together an anthology of all my work in 2017. My work has been well received and has garnered some very positive reviews on the Amazon releases in which it appears.

book3

I’ve printed a limited run, and very specifically did not acquire an ISBN number, as that would constitute publishing. The contracts for the works I’ve had published prohibit them from being published elsewhere for 6 months to 2 years, and I will uphold my part of those contracts faithfully. This is simply a limited print run, not commercially available at all. I will, however, be sending copies to a very select group of friends as a “Thank You!” for their support, and let’s be honest…to have a book of my own work on my bookshelf is my own reward for a good year’s effort.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet and associate with very talented people…C.P. Dunphey, Patrick Reuman, Carl R. Jennings, David Turton, Steph and Stuart at The Horror Tree, and Dennis Serra come to mind immediately, but there are many others in this extraordinary community. They’ve welcomed me as a member, and I very much appreciate that, and try to contribute and support their efforts regularly.

Since my wife and I will be sound asleep well before midnight tonight, I’ll wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year now, and look forward to continuing this journey in 2018.

Quality time with the guys…

Instead of focusing on the print screwup as I wait to hear back from Ingram, I’m staying busy by spending time with my characters, getting to know them better as they get involved with the events taking place in the novel…

We have two detectives working together that we’ve met briefly before, in “Bequeath” and “Ghost Writer.”

Joe Bannon, the senior man, reminds me of Jerry Orbach’s Lenny Briscoe on the original Law & Order series. Been around forever, knows everyone, wisecracks all the time.

He’s paired with Felix Perez, younger and less experienced. Felix reminds me of the Chico Gonzalez character teamed with Eastwood in the original Dirty Harry movie.

These personalities could make for some interesting interactions:

Perez had just put his cell back in his jacket pocket when it buzzed again. He closed his eyes and shook his head as he reached for it.

“Jeeze Kid, you’re pretty popular today.”

“I’m sorry Joe, it’s my wife again. She needs me to pick up a bunch of stuff for Christmas Eve.”

“Shopping now? Oh, that’s gonna be murder.”

“No, it’s all food. She needs to bring a few things to her mother for the feast.”

“The feast?”

“Her mother’s very religious. Every Christmas Eve, she has to make the feast of the seven fishes.”

“Feast of the seven fishes? You serious, kid? That sounds like something you’d order at a wise guy’s restaurant.” Bannon chuckled.

“You never met my wife’s mother…” Perez countered.

“I’ll stick to my own tradition.”

“Oh? What tradition is that?”

“The feast of the seven Irish bachelors.”

“Never heard of that one…is it also fish?”

“Nah. Pizza and a six pack.”

briscoe

I’ve got Mail!

The doorbell rang just as the evening news began, and my interest in world matters of the day dissipated like morning mist as I carried in the box that UPS just left on my front steps.

Finally here…let’s have a look…

book1

book3

book2

Very nice indeed…my only critique is that the titles are much too light, despite looking fine in the PDF Proof I approved. Upon further review, some titles are so light they’re difficult to read, and I even found a toner spill on one page.

Really? Ever hear of Quality Check? Sorry, but having been in the print industry for over 40 years now, this is far from acceptable. Email sent to Ingram, will have to wait for their response.

Not a happy camper…

And then there were three…

Had another “What If?” moment, which led to another story the other day. We all have a safe place we retreat to when times become overwhelming, it’s part of our natural instinct for self preservation. But, whatever you do, don’t lock the door.

So “The Safe Place” lands in the 2018 work folder, making for a nice head start to next year’s efforts. I’m hoping to spend some time next week on improving and expanding the outline I started for a novel I want to do.

Got good news in the form of an email from Ingram…my order has shipped, and should be here next week, so I’ll be able to get some goodies to the people I’m planning to send them to.

I’ve honored my contracts, and have not published any works that have been published elsewhere, so all is well.

Full Cover

No ISBN number, not meant for publication, just a private print run of a limited number of copies, all of which will be signed and dedicated to the recipients.

‘Tis the season, no?

Sleep well…..

Early New Year

As I wait (impatiently) for what should be the final e-proof from Ingram on my collection of 2017 work, I’ve put the latest 2 shorts into the 2018 Work folder, to get a jump on things.

Those stories are “Fill ‘Er Up”, a perfect Twilight Zone occurrence set in 1959, and then “Malone’s Hand”, a dying patient telling an unbelievable story to his visitor with his last breath.

They will lead the 2018 effort, which will include my first (gulp) effort at outlining a novel, then writing and collecting the pieces together. I’ve always been what they call a “pantser”, writing on the fly, the story and the characters driving it along. It works very well for short stories, but I doubt it would be a practical approach to a novel.

Meantime, both those new stories have been submitted to new markets, I’ve just sent “Tumor” to Dennis Serra to see if he’d like to add it to a future Evil Podcast episode, and once my e-proof is approved, we’ll go to press and print a very limited run of all my 2017 work, both to give as gifts, and also (let’s be honest) for my own bookshelf.

Full Cover

Odd Couple

Joe Bannon and Felix Perez, my two detectives from “Bequeath” are about to make their second appearance in “Ghost Writer”, which will appear on the Astounding Outpost website in December, and then in their “Ghosts, Ghouls, and Grave Robbers” anthology, which will debut on Amazon in January.

I modeled Bannon after Jerry Orbach’s great Lennie Briscoe character on the long running Law & Order TV series. He’s a jaded cop that’s seen it all and copes by making wisecracks and not letting it get to him. Perez considers him “a good cop, but blunt as a rock.”

Perez is a young man, new detective, partnered with Bannon to learn the ropes, much like the Chico Gonzalez character paired with Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character in the first film.

I wanted that kind of contrast, to make the interplay between them interesting, even though it has been somewhat limited in the two stories thus far.

I foresee these two making their way into future stories, especially where the unnatural events may challenge Bannon’s tendency to not let the job get to him. He’s already seen things in these two tales that are anything but the usual, run of the mill crimes that he’s investigated for so long. Wonder what they’ll be assigned to look into next?

We shall see…

typewriter

We’ll try…

My plan for December was to complete the layout of the private run I want to do of everything I’ve done thus far, and then take a break to catch up on reading. I have a number of books in the Kindle waiting their turn, growing impatient.

And that’s when the Muse dropped a new “What If?” on me, one that would have been a perfect fit for the Twilight Zone in Rod Serling’s heyday.

Set in 1959, with as many elements to capture the time as I can include without being obvious, this one even plays in B&W in the theater of the mind as I read it…I even hear Tommy Tedesco’s guitar playing the Zone theme at the end! This one is not so much traditional horror, as a….well, as a Twilight Zone occurrence.

I’ve created a folder on the desktop for 2018 work, and this will be added once the final edits are complete. That folder already holds my “attempt” at drafting an outline for a novel, outlining not being my forte…we shall see. But, I’m pleased that my short story ideas continue to come along, as they always have!

Serling

Private Reserve…

I’m going to produce a printed anthology of all the work I’ve done in 2017, as gifts for friends, and also (be honest, now) for myself.

As some of the stories are reserved by the publishers who’ve accepted them, this book will not be published, nor will it have an ISBN number. It will only have a product SKU, in case I choose to do another print run at some point.

As such, it won’t be available in any retailer, thus keeping my part of the publishing contracts and agreements with my publishers.

It should, however, be a (hopefully) nice gift for those for whom it’s intended.

I’ve begun designing the cover, and will next need to revisit Scrivener, make any final changes and edits, then compile to Word to ship off to Ingram.

Exciting stuff!

Full Cover