Sometimes, dead is better…

Been a while… I’ve decided to step back out of the flow for now because my not so dark half’s work environment is becoming more and more stressful of late, and the escape my writing used to provide has exacerbated that stress.

Not the writing. No, the writing is and always has been an enjoyable escape as I begin with an idea and let the tale take over and lead me to where it wants to go. That part is absolutely a fun ride.

The stress comes in with my lack of patience. Let’s be honest, I don’t mind rejections at all. Seriously, if my wife and I got to dinner, she might order a seafood meal while I order a nice Veal Parmesan. She hates veal about as much as I hate fish, but that is perfectly fine. We like what we like as do the editors to whom the stories are submitted. If it’s not for them, that’s absolutely fair.

No, the stress comes into play when you’re left in the cold so often, no response whatsoever to your work for very long periods of time. That gets me going because it’s so widespread. Between waiting for results on submission, waiting for reviews on published work (good or bad, at least say something!), waiting, waiting, waiting. (With some very notable exceptions, such as Steph and Stuart at The Horror Tree who have always been prompt in getting back on submission decisions)

That’s the part that introduces the stress, and when coupled with the Draconian management practices that have surfaced at my work of late, it’s too damned much.

Something’s gotta give.

So, for the time being at least, I’m going to step off the merry-go-round. Yes, I’ll write when the idea strikes me, but I’ll just file the work away for another day. Who knows, I might just overhaul the website and put them all up for anyone who might like to check them out… I don’t know at this point.

For now, I’ll just hang the sign in the window.

sorry sign

Getting Ready…

We’ve arrived at the 9th of January, and the work I had to do in setting up our photographic venture is now completed. During my self-imposed exile…dare I say I put the “hack in the box”… I set up some new courses to take for writing and publishing and look forward to putting time into those.

I also look forward to next week when my Blu-ray release of Halloween 2018 arrives!

Michael

I’ve been a fan of Carpenter’s Halloween since the original release, and I thought they did a great job with this one, ignoring all the old sequels and having Michael come back home after 40 years.

I suspect the chance to watch this again, especially with all the extras on the disc, will be just the right motivation for me to bang on the keys again, especially where I have two new stories begun but not completed yet.

Sleep well…

Timeshare

As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve been setting the pen down in order to spend time (and a fair amount of money) setting up a photographic venture for my wife and myself, as taking photos is something we both love to do, and was one of the things that first brought us together.

I’m not stopping my writing… in fact, I have 2 new stories in progress at the moment. I simply won’t be as active, particularly on the social media channels, as usual in order to spend the time I need to invest in learning my new gear, as well as organizing a portfolio and a new website on our new domain.

I have decades of experience shooting, both as an avid hobbyist and semi pro, but the advances in technology inherent in my new camera will take some time to properly learn. In other words, this ain’t no Kodak Instamatic:

20181225_141303

20181225_141311

The D500 is the flagship model in the Nikon DX line, and has more computing power and associated options than many desktop computers I’ve had in the past. This camera is an absolute delight to use, the most so since my beloved F4 was in days gone by. I hated giving that up, but film cameras were dropping in value by the hour, and good labs to process slide film were becoming very rare (and very expensive), so I had to cross over to digital.

And so, as 2019 rolls in, my new tales will continue to appear when finished, just not as frequently as they have in 2018. This has no bearing on my previously stated frustrations with waiting for responses (a difficult aspect to the writing game for all) whatsoever, it’s just the limitation of 24 hour days on one who sleeps, works full time, and then writes, codes websites, takes photographs, reads books, watches seminars… and enjoys the company of his spouse.

Timeshare… a descriptive phrase, much more so than defining a vacation destination.

A safe and happy new year to all!

Break…

As we close the books on 2018, I’m going to take some time away from the online world to rethink and regroup a bit.

It seems the harder I work, the less I gain from those efforts. For example, when I released my novella “Spirit of the Dead” on Amazon just before Halloween, I made it free for the four days leading up to the 31st. I posted it on all my social media outlets, and all I asked for was for those who chose to take a free copy to please write an honest review of it afterward.

In those 4 days, some 61 copies were ordered and downloaded.

Of those 61 copies, I have received zero reviews.

Considering the frustration of waiting months for word on the average submission, and now the lack of any feedback, whether it be good or bad, I am honestly considering writing exclusively for myself and my friends, and not releasing anything to the public.

Writing is fulfilling, it’s enjoyable, and it serves as a great offset to the drudgery of working a full time job and handling those “real world” responsibilities. When I write, I’m flying on the wings of imagination and loving the places it takes me.

It isn’t the writing that’s frustrating me, not at all. It’s the frigid, empty void into which the writing has been disappearing upon completion, and that needs to change.

How exactly it will change, I am not sure… hence the time I’ll be taking to rethink and regroup over the remainder of the year.

card

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

See you on the other side…

Not dead, just busy…

It’s been a couple weeks since my last blog post, and those have been busy weeks. We replaced three windows in the house, one a very large window in our living room, and then a fresh coat of paint when the dust had settled. The new windows are so much more energy efficient than what was there before, I think we’ll save in all seasons by better containing heat and cool air.

1

Then I measured out and installed the new hardware for the curtains, we set those up, and put the room back together again.

2

The room is every bit as comfortable as it appears in the photo above, which just happens to be my writing space. In that recliner, the laptop on my lap, tapping away just as I’m doing right now to pen this post.

In addition, I’ve been doing a ton of HTML editing for our new photographic website, and a little surprise for my readers as well.

Once all these projects are finished, I hope the results will be enjoyed!

(And then I can get back to my writing… and other things)

home

As always, sleep well…

Along for the ride…

It’s easy to understand why I write horror. It’s my mind. My mind is a scary place, especially if I try to change the course it wants to take.

For example, I have a new story in the works, a story about the ultimate bad tech support call. I came to the laptop this morning planning to work on this story, but my mind had other ideas.

My mind was in visual mode today, and there was no changing course.

I did a Black Friday thing yesterday… I nailed a two year hosting contract with a different provider because the deal was too good to pass up. I also grabbed a new domain, planning to develop a photography showcase for my wife Anita to grow into.

I spent this morning coding the site, at least as a starter – AB Images

And then I fired up Photoshop to develop a logo to go along with it:

ab logo

Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. I still haven’t incorporated the logo into the site, as that came after the site was posted, but it’s a work in progress.

A visual work in progress.

Such is how the mind works, those dark corridors up there. That scary place we spoke of earlier, remember? Yeah, when that takes the lead, I’m just along for the ride, and I’d be kidding myself if I tried to believe otherwise.

I just hope it decides it wants to switch back to words sometime soon. I think this new story has potential.

Sleep well…

 

Something different…

I recently received an author invitation to join a site called Curious Fictions, which presents itself as an author’s resource. I checked it out, and heard positive comments about the ladies that run the site from the Horror Writers Association group on Facebook, so I decided to give it a try.

I’ve posted two previously published stories there, and just added a new, unpublished story this morning for subscribers as well:

G.A. Miller at Curious Fictions

Do feel free to have a lookie-loo if you so desire!

Oops, being dragged to the gym by She Who Must Be Obeyed….

Sleep well…

Rising from the cold, dark ground…

It’s been a very difficult week, the kind that invites depression to not only visit but to take up residence. Three rejections in email on stories I had high hopes for were a significant part of that.

My wife was my anchor, listening and helping me see my way out of the mire, and I am grateful, as always. She pointed out some of the good in order to lessen the impact of the negativity that surrounded me.

One example was the release of the 2018 Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA) anthology, which contains my Twilight Zone inspired tale, “The Dot”:

anthology

My copy is slated to arrive tomorrow, which will go on the shelf with my other published works.

Another helpful item was the response I got to that homework I had to do this past week, the final writing assignment in my Advanced Horror Writing course:

I like this a lot—you have a very readable style and it all turned on an interesting twist you didn’t overly telegraph but that still made perfect sense in context.

You went a little “off script” from the strict progression of the bullet points, and that’s actually a really good thing! Even if this were your own simple outline, what I call in my shorter Horror Intensive course “just enough outline to get you writing,” you still need to give yourself permission to have a better idea and follow the story where it ends up wanting to go.

One thing I would look at, though, is the whole beginning scene with the Uber driver, which establishes that John is a retired priest but otherwise concentrates a lot on the details of taking an Uber, and the driver never comes back into the story. I’d get John to the B&B sooner, and so into the “weird” sooner as well.

This is good stuff, though, Bob, and I hope you got a lot out of the course. Thanks for doing all the work—now get back to writing!

Cheers,

Philip Athans
Athans & Associates Creative Consulting

I appreciated his comments and critique quite a bit. For those not familiar, Phil Athans is a long time industry professional, and a seriously good author as well. He disproves that old comment, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” 

Phil does both, and he does them quite well.

On the strength of that, I spent some time this morning working and revising that assignment, shaping it into a story that I’ve titled “Dead and Breakfast”, which comes in at about 3350 words complete, just a little longer than the 3000 word assignment limit. I was debating whether to publish that in its entirety here or to offer it to Steph and Stuart at The Horror Tree for future inclusion in their Trembling With Fear column, but it exceeds their 1500 word Flash limit by more than double, so that’s not going to be an option, I’m afraid. I’ll have to settle for advertising for them with the shirt I’ve ordered until I write something new that fits within the word limits.

HT shirt

For the moment, at least, I’m going to set that story aside, let it simmer and percolate a bit before I decide its fate. I’ll want to revisit and revise it with fresh eyes before choosing anyway, so that’s best.

Time to take a short break then deal with the annual benefits elections for my day job, our yearly excursion into the principles of paying more to get less.

And you thought that only happened in politics…

Sleep well…

Homework to be done…

I’m currently taking a course titled “Advanced Horror Writing” at the Writer’s Digest University, as I firmly believe you should never stop learning, and I want to improve my own work. Philip Athans is the instructor, and he is very good, for anyone who might be considering taking a course on their own.

Looks like an interesting assignment for the week ahead… I have to write a short story up to 3000 words following these guidelines:

Below are vague bullet points describing bits of basic action. Take those bullet points as an outline and write a short story (up to 3000 words), with your own characters, setting, and other specifics. The first set of bullet points should put the emphasis on suspense (long sentences in the fewest number of paragraphs—no breaths, anxiety). The second set should invoke a sense of terror (short sentences, sentence fragments, multiple short paragraphs—hyperventilating, panic).

SUSPENSE:

POV Character is dropped off at the door of the home of a Friend.
POV Character and Friend haven’t see each other for a very long time.
The house is not what POV Character expected.
POV Character is shown to a bedroom.
The next morning, Friend asks POV Character if anything disturbed them in the night.
Friend says that someone else who lives in the house often wanders around at night.
Friend reveals a distrust of this other person, who argued against Friend’s efforts to remodel the house.
The previous owner of the house was rumored to have kidnapped children.

TERROR:

Strange noises are heard in the house.
A decision is made to search the house.
A hidden space is discovered in which lurks a monster or the One Weird Thing.
Efforts on the part of POV Character to resolve the issue.
And the banned words list from Session One still applies!

afraid
alarmed
fearful
fearfully
frightened
frightening
horrified
horrifying
nervous
panic
panicked
panicking
scared
scary
shocked
shocking
terrified
terrifying
terrorize
terrorized

The banned words have to be avoided to make the story show those emotions in a more visceral form, rather than just say something is scary.

I’m planning on writing a first draft today, as this assignment is due one week from tomorrow. If I can get a solid first done today, I’ll have ample time to revisit, edit, and tweak it to where it needs to be, then turn it in on time.

Maybe I’ll post the finished story up here next week on the blog? Could be, we’ll see.

But for now,

The-sparrows-are-flying-again

Sleep well…

Perfect…

The house is quiet, the sounds of laundry being done in the basement muted. The dog is curled up in his bed, clearly dreaming about a chase, his rear legs twitching. My writing laptop is back on my lap in this recliner, and the spirit of Halloween fills the air.

Is there a better time and place to write than this? I don’t think so…

I’ve just finished work on two brand new short stories, one of which began as a homework assignment for the course I’m taking and the other one a combination of two recent ideas I had.

I like them both, one a bit more than the other perhaps, but… they both do their jobs, and that is the goal, after all.

My novella, “Spirit of the Dead”, went live yesterday on Amazon, and is offered free from today through Halloween. My goal is to hopefully earn some good reviews and draw attention to the rest of my work.

Spirit Paperback Cover

This will be available on Amazon as a Kindle book, and will be offered at booksellers in paperback via Lulu. My first ever self publishing venture, and while I fully expect to make mistakes along the way, I hope to learn from them for the future.

I’ll take the lessons I learn from this and implement them for the next release I’m planning, a collection of 13 short stories…

Thirteen Front

I foresee this also being available in both Kindle and paperback formats, and may seek local distribution at a nearby bookstore as well, one that features work by local authors.

I recently made a little progress on the novel too… not a lot, mind you, with all else going on, but it’s still being worked. All things in due time, as they say.

I should soon see the Association of Rhode Island Authors 2018 Anthology being released, which features my story “The Dot”, my copy of Trembling With Fear Year One will be arriving tomorrow with some of my work in it, and the recent release of “Trappe’s Rest” in EconoClash Review # 2 has already earned praise in its first review.

Good stuff indeed!

And now, it’s time to get back to work on final edits for the two new stories…

Sleep well…