The Bookmobile From Hell…

It seems the Muse was sleeping today… or, maybe spending a day at the beach? In any case, I decided to try something new today instead of sitting in front of the TV, letting my brain dissolve into a fetid pool of sludge.

I created a new app comprised of all 43 short stories I’ve done so far.

Yeah, 43.

Needless to say, all that content adds up to over 51 megs, but…it is cool having my entire collection literally in my pocket! I went with an antique card catalog motif for the design, and I like it!

Bookmobile

The composite photo is actually 5 screen captures from my phone, lined up together in Photoshop. Each story resides in its own “drawer”, and there is a menu that pops out from the side for those who want short cuts. Me, I like scrolling the drawers!

and then phone

Here’s a detail of one of the drawers for the stories. I went with the font that looks like a typewriter with a ribbon on the way out to add to the vintage vibe.

Sorry, but this won’t be a public release, as I do hope to sell some of these stories to publishers! I want to have it on my phone for convenience, and possibly a sample for someone to read on the fly, and it was a fun exercise to put it together.

Tell you what… I have 10 or 11 stories out as we speak, at publishers like Gehenna & Hinnom, Cemetery Dance, and Amazing Stories, among others.

Let’s see how many acceptances I get, and then we’ll discuss releasing some of these stories, OK? Watch here and on the site for updates, and as always…

Sleep well…

Ah, the weekend has arrived…

Saturday morning, the house quiet. I sit in the recliner with my laptop and the dog is curled up sleeping on the couch. A hot cup of coffee sits on the small end table to my right and the pleasure of a slow and easy waking is in progress.

Just sent off “Tumor” to Gathering Storm Magazine, encouraged by their aim to try and respond within 15 days. I wish all publishers would adhere to a shorter turnaround time in their responses. Yes, they’re busy people, yes they have lives and other obligations beyond reading, I get it.

But…so do we.

We have our own lives, filled with obligations both professional and personal, and yet we eke out time to write, edit, revise, reedit and meet the criteria for the publication to whom we’re submitting. We track these submissions, insuring we follow the guidelines carefully. If simultaneous submissions are not accepted, we cannot send the story elsewhere until we’ve received a verdict, which sometimes takes many months.

Frustrating as hell.

Maybe a submission should have an expiration date, mush like the food we purchase at a grocery. Instead of “Use By” or “Best By”, we could state “This submission expires on xx/xx/xxxx, at which time it is withdrawn and will be offered elsewhere.”

I like that idea. I like it a lot.

GAProPic

Sleep well…

 

Ink’s almost dry…

Just finished a third? edit on a new story, and I really like the way it’s developed along the way.

We meet Shari, a waitress who’s had her share of hard knocks, and is dreading the drive home because she’s working nights at the diner…

Nights.

Shari hated working nights.

Sure, the tips were better, and the crowd wasn’t usually a problem at all, mostly couples and families, but she hated the drive back home.

In the dark. On that road.

Shari liked to tell customers that her ‘twig in the sticks’ was exactly 71.5 miles away from the diner, but 40 of those miles were along what locals called the “Suicide Stretch” of state road 237.

Those 40 miles consisted of two narrow, winding lanes that were carved through the foothills, leaving drivers little room to maneuver if something went wrong, which occurred too often for comfort. That stretch always caused her to tense up, typically leaving her with a stiff neck and headache by the time she got home.

That there were no lights through that stretch made it even worse, at least for her, and cell coverage was sporadic at best, with the high foothills on either side.

Yeah, Shari was not fond of the Suicide Stretch at all, but we do what we need to do in order to keep a roof over our heads, and Shari is no exception.

This night, however, things are different… and it all begins when her cell phone rings on her way back home.

“And Then The Phone Rang”… another tale with a very strong Twilight Zone vibe, added to the collection.

Oh, and yes… for the sharp eyes readers our there, choosing to name the road on which the Suicide Stretch resides “S.R. 237” was indeed a tip of the hat to the man that selected that particular room number in a hotel where a family served as winter caretakers to be where a young boy saw things no child should ever see.

Sleep well…

In the mailbox…

It was a very pleasant surprise to open the mailbox today and find a contributor’s copy of Strange Stories Vol 1, Number 1 waiting for me!

What self respecting fan of EC Comics would pass up a chance to appear in a magazine that looks like this?

SScover

with an accepted story like this?

SStale

I wasn’t born early enough to have had a chance to be in the originals from William Gaines and company, but this feels right to me!

My thanks to David Wilson at Deadlights for the opportunity to appear in his premiere issue!

Back to work… there’s a brand new story to be edited on this laptop…

Sleep well…

Open House

After last week’s coding marathon, the new site is up and running smoothly… I believe I’ve corrected all the typos and fixed all the broken links, at least as far as I know, so I posted the address in my author page at Facebook and also on Twitter to invite people to stop in and take it for a test drive.

Capture

I’ll spend some time today cleaning and tightening the code and do another review for any errors I may have missed, then wait to see what people say.

I did get one very encouraging comment from Carl R. Jennings, a talented author I’ve had the privilege to appear with in a publication:

Capture

Thursday night, after my wife went to bed, I was looking at my phone when a conversation between a bartender and his sole customer popped into my head. I opened a writing app on the phone and wrote as much as I had so far, then saved it and hit the rack. Friday was a slow day at work, so I was able to flesh it out between my customer calls, and then after work, I was able to let the story take me where it wanted to go.

“A Quiet Evening” is the result, and has been added to the roster.

I have to say, it is sooo nice to be writing stories again after the code marathon last weekend!

Hmm, the level of coffee in my mug is dangerously low… must fix that!

Sleep well…

Summer Job…

Well, not in the traditional sense. Not delivering newspapers or mowing lawns, anyway.

No, the goal is to prepare for a new launch in the fall. A new domain, new website, new goodies to be available for readers, all leading up to a self published anthology of short stories.

That’s the plan…

To that end, the domain has been acquired, along with the SSL certificate to insure privacy for visitors, and work has begun on the new digs:

Capture

I’ll be feverishly crunching HTML code until my eyes bleed to get it up and running, so there might be a bit of a delay in new work being announced…well, unless anyone has a fondness for reading code snippets?

I’m not planning an onsite store, but will provide links to anything available on Amazon, so desired purchases can be made through proper channels there. There will be sample stories, podcasts to listen to, and other goodies, such as the app for Android devices.

There’s an app for me?

Yeah…whodathunkit?

App Screens

I’ve been working a bit on the novel, and just completed a new short titled “Twelve Forty-Five”, which will be sent off on Sunday in hopes of landing publication this fall. I’m waiting to hear back from Amazing Stories and Cemetery Dance on the submissions I have there, as well as others still floating around in that vacuum submitted stories tend to wind up in.

But, for the short term at least, it’ll be code pummeled out on this keyboard unless the Muse lands and demands my attention for a new idea.

When that happens, I listen.

I may be crazy, but I ain’t no fool.

If you need me, just follow the sound of clicking keys and muttered curses.

Oh, and the aroma of pizza.

Sleep well…

 

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. No 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.

20180505_074131.jpg

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!