Review…

Just looking back…since I began this writing journey in January of 2017, I’ve completed one novella and thirty-three short stories. I have my first novel in the works, and am following Stephen King’s advice, uncovering the buried treasure a little at a time, carefully, insuring I do as little damage as possible while I unearth it.

It’s a great analogy, and describes the process, at least as it works for me, quite well. I get an idea for a section, or an event, or even a conversation, and off I go. I create a new section in Scrivener, title it, and write out the piece that’s banging on the inside of my head, begging to be released.

Once done, I look at it as a manuscript where I can easily move those sections around, lining them up in the order that makes the most sense, which is very cool indeed.

It’s an entirely different process with short stories…those form as a central idea, and then fill in the blanks on their own as I write, as I try to keep up. After the initial frenzy, I wait a little while (but not too long, patience not being a strong suit) and then revisit them, making changes as I read, going through uncountable edits and changes until it lets me know it’s finished.

I’ve found markets for some of them, and greatly enjoy seeing them get out there in those anthologies, being part of a carefully curated sampling for readers to enjoy. If only I could go back in time, I know the perfect place I’d have submitted my work to…

Tales

What a perfect fit they’d have been here…ah well, let’s move forward and do the best we can.

Sleep well…

Time for something new…

A few months ago, I had to take antibiotics for a particularly hideous carbuncle in my back that was the result of an infected cyst. My wife pressed on it, and the blood spray across the ceiling (yes, the ceiling) looked like a scene from CSI.

I jotted down some basic story ideas, and promptly tucked them away, as I had a few other things working at the time, and then the idea popped in my head of its own accord this week. I saw new angles to it, new characters in it, and followed the Muse down the well used path to “What If?”, and out it came.

Welcome to “Soul Eater”

She peeled the bandage off the boil on his back and let it drop on the couch behind him. She began licking the open wound, making an obscene slobbering sound.

Dan felt his stomach do a slow roll at the thought of this hairy creature licking his flesh but was powerless to make her stop. He then felt pressure, followed by intense pain as something sharp pressed into the open wound, probing deep into his back.

He retched as he realized the probe was wiggling as it invaded him. It must be her tongue with a sharp pointed end, no tool could wiggle like that. Dan moaned, then tried to speak…

Poor Dan…he’s really not having a good day, and it’s probably not going to get much better.

Sleep well…

Moving along…

Nice to wake up early, rested, and ready to do some work! As we approach lunch time, the book is slightly over 10K words, and the new short story is at about 1K, the fist “act” now complete. The seeds for what will happen later have been planted. Lots to be done in both projects, but no time card to punch.

In addition, I set up a perfect version of my anthology, “What If?” in Scrivener, and compiled it for Kindle. A few tweaks here and there to conform to the Kindle way of doing things, and it’s now uploaded to Amazon, and renders perfectly on all my devices, looks as though it had been published by Amazon themselves.

Cover

I have a couple print copies of the revised edition that I had done at Lulu.com, and they look great. The template I used is perfect for a print layout, and here again, I have a hard copy that looks as though it had been professionally done.

Book 3

I’ve long been a do-it-yourself kinda guy, and have just transposed that mindset into my writing. Early efforts were terrible, loaded with formatting errors, but that’s the beauty of learning as you go. I can easily see the progress in the two editions, and can apply what I’ve learned here to future projects.

On another front, I’m eagerly looking forward to tomorrow, April 16th, and the premiere of my new short story, “The Dot”, appearing on Dennis Serra’s Evil Podcast. (The Evil Podcast) This will be the third story that has appeared on his show, and this one has never been seen (or heard) elsewhere, except for the excerpt from it that I provided for my interview on The Horror Tree. (Horror Tree Interview)

This story has a definite Twilight Zone vibe to it, and also features another appearance of that tall man in black, the one that my book is about. There’s en excerpt about him in a blog post I recently put up, if you’d like to have a peek. (Epiphany…)

What’s that, you say? Time for lunch already?

Zacherley

Sleep well…

A promising weekend ahead

Looks like I’ll be following my own advice this weekend, forgetting about the stories awaiting responses, and working on something new…

dedication

I have some ideas to incorporate in the book I’m writing, and I’ve also started work on a new short story, so there’s lots to be done. Oh, and “The Dot” will be making it’s debut on Dennis Serra’s “Evil Podcast” on Monday, April 16th, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

Keeping on indeed…

Sleep well…

Epiphany…

Mirriam-Webster defines the word Epiphany as follows:

a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
(2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
(3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

b : a revealing scene or moment

They also include the religious definitions, but the one cited above is clearly the applicable one here, as that’s what I felt this morning. Having that last minute idea that always arrives just as the head settles onto the pillow, I chose to try it this morning, and that’s when the light bulb over my head went off.

I’ve written a number of stories circling the same central theme, sometimes with the same characters having a part in them…but, it seems they’re not really independent stories at all.

They’re actually parts of the book I’ve started, pieces of that buried central idea that became visible here and there, which I fortunately captured as individual tales. Now, looking at the big picture, I can better see the interconnections between them.

Summon a gun. Whodathunkit?

My pillow arrival idea was to incorporate one of those short stories as a chapter in the book, and the resulting fit is better than if it had been tailored on Saville Row in London. Yes, oh yes, it’s staying in the book, and there may well be additional pieces and fragments from those tales woven in here and there, as is appropriate.

But, this isn’t simply a rehash of those stories again, not at all…they’re just building blocks of a whole, primarily composed new as that idea moves up higher out of the sand it’s buried in. As an example, here’s part of the prologue, which is completely new:

Late September, 1951.

It was 2:19 AM, the night air carrying a chill through Carson’s Mill, the dark sky above cloudless and clear.

The tall man in black stood on a corner in front of the Old Stone Safe Deposit and Trust Company and looked up into the night sky. He saw far more than the twinkling stars, admiring the multitude of shades and textures within the inky darkness above as they ebbed and flowed…

He turned his head sharply to the left, his attention diverted by what was about to happen a few miles away. He knew there was a car on the main road and another on a side street that would intersect with the main road after a long, blind curve. He also knew that the driver of the car on that side street was drunk, was speeding, and would enter that intersection at high speed without slowing down, hitting the other car broadside and killing the passengers within.

He did not know why, as he was generally amused by the stupid things people did to themselves, but he instinctively understood he had to prevent that crash from happening so he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Harry Carter was tooling along at 50 on the dark road, his ‘47 Chevy Fleetline weaving erratically back and forth. He was shouting, cursing his luck, cursing everyone he knew, and cursing the world in general. He’d gone in for his second shift job at the paper mill, and found a pink slip waiting in place of his time card. He took the meager severance check they’d given him, cashed it at the bank just before they closed, and proceeded to drink as much of it as he could before the bartender finally cut him off.

Remembering that now, he cursed him too.

As he was ranting and shaking his head, he happened to glance at the rear-view mirror and yelped when he saw someone staring at him from the back seat. The tall stranger sitting there was completely bald, with a trimmed black goatee and thick brows over his piercing dark eyes.

“Hey, who th’fuck are you?” he slurred.

The stranger said nothing, staring at the back of Harry’s head in silence.

“I asst you a questun, asshole!” Harry bellowed as he turned in his seat to face the man sitting in the back. He turned easily, never bothering to wear a seat belt.

The stranger reached into his jacket pocket and removed a worn metal cigarette case. He extracted a jet-black cigarette from the case, returned it to his pocket, and lit the cigarette with the spark created by clicking two long, thick fingernails against each other. His eyes never left Harry’s as the car filled with a pungent, sulfur like odor that made Harry’s scowl deepen.

Glaring at the intruder, his vision now blurry and doubling, Harry didn’t notice the start of the wide curve in the road until he felt the car bucking and heaving when it left the smooth asphalt and careened onto the dirt and grass leading to the huge oak tree overlooking the road.

As Harry was turning back to face forward and regain control, the massive car plowed into the trunk of the oak at 58 miles per hour, launching him up toward the windshield. His head smashed through the thick glass as he was violently pitched forward.

His momentum was abruptly stopped when his Western belt buckle caught on the steering wheel, pivoting his neck down onto the jagged glass and severing his jugular. A thick branch in the old tree, cracked at its base by the impact, dropped down on the back of his head, completing his decapitation. Harry’s severed head fell onto the crumpled hood and slowly rolled over, staring up with wide eyed surprise at the dark sky above.

On the main road, just a quarter mile ahead, Paul and Dorothy Bennett drove through the intersection, completely unaware of what had just happened.

The tall man opened the back door and stepped out of Harry’s demolished Chevy. He smiled at the confused expression on the head lying on the hood and looked toward the main road where the Bennetts had just passed by. He didn’t know then why the accident had to be prevented but was certain he’d find out in due time.

Lights in nearby houses were coming on as people stepped out to see what had happened to cause that loud noise, gasping and commenting to each other about the severity of the crash.

A woman who was a nurse rushed over to offer help, stopping short when she saw the head lying on the ruined hood of the car. She turned back to her neighbors, calling out.

“Has anyone called the Sheriff yet?”

“Yep, I did,” came a reply from the darkness.

“Well, he doesn’t need to rush. This one’s a goner.”

The crowd edged closer for a better look, the tall man no longer there. The ruined engine ticked as it cooled, like a death watch beetle not yet satisfied.

New? Yep, sure is, nothing in the prologue from any previous work at all. Good? I sure think so, and I hope my readers will as well. And anyone who’s had the opportunity to read my tale “Blind Demo” will see the connection immediately.

Meanwhile, it’s time to do some more writing, so…

Sleep well…

 

 

Back in the saddle again…

Breaking away and catching up on some long overdue reading has been a helpful experience…ideas for my upcoming work began coalescing in the back of my mind which led to some writing this morning.

Stephen King has likened the development of a story from an idea to finding something sticking out of the ground and painstakingly digging it out without damaging it (too much) in the process to see what it is. That’s what this feels like.

I have my antagonist (Luther) and my protagonist (John) and they represent the confrontation of Good vs. Evil, which occurs in Carson’s Mill.

Mill Sign

I’ve set the stage for the events to come with a prologue that occurs in 1951, and we pick up the story again in 2018. As I write, ideas come out of nowhere, the sign that the story is taking the wheel, which is always the best way, at least for me.

I’ve compiled a detailed description of Luther, and have begun looking at portfolios of artists, as I’m thinking of commissioning a portrait to be done that I can then use as a backdrop for the cover.

I don’t think this is a story.

I think this is a book, not just a book, but the first book, and I want to use a fine brush to excavate the idea, to see more and more of it, and include it all as it comes into view.

I want to take my time, to let those ideas simmer and percolate in the back of my mind, then brushing the dust away to see them better so I can write them with focus and clarity in this story. This is not going to happen overnight, and I’ll be doing other things in the meantime, but those excavation sessions will occur when it feels right for them to.

And yes, I’ll continue making time for reading.

Sleep well…

Pen down, screen off…

I realized that I’ve been in a constant cycle of write/revise/submit and stay active on social media, and have neglected the very thing that attracted me to writing in the first place.

Reading.

Where I now have some 12 stories currently out for submission, and have begin work on a novel, I’m going to take a break, especially from the time vacuum of social media, and simply enjoy catching up on reading. I have a boatload of books that look good, and have been waiting in the wings. Now it’s their turn.

Sleep well…

It is Easter Morning, but…

Rather than using this time to relax and reflect, I’ve decided to take advice that I’d asked for and received.

I did an overhaul of my novella, “Spirit of the Dead”, and sent it off for submission. Yes, I am still keeping a Plan B very much in play, now having the completed manuscript and cover finalized and ready to go, but I’ll continue along the traditional route, rather then self publishing, at least for a while.

Cover

 

I asked that question of a publisher who I respect, and he was kind enough to point out his reasons to stay the course, at least for now. His comments and explanations made perfect sense, particularly with regard to investing the time necessary to build a following, which then creates the audience for future works.

One cannot argue with good, sensible, logical points, particularly from a respected publisher, and I certainly will not.

So, off it goes, joining the 11 short stories that are currently making the rounds at various publications. Here’s hoping some good news will begin appearing in the inbox soon!

Spirit Cover New

And now, I believe my wife can use a hand in the kitchen…Happy Easter and/or Passover to those who celebrate.

Sleep well…

Busy as a…

Well, I’m not much for bumblebees, so let’s say as busy as these guys…

unnamed

I have just been honored to be the subject of an interview for a web site we all know, trust, and turn to often. I won’t mention their name, as I think the announcement should be theirs to make, but I’ll certainly celebrate after the fact.

On another front, I’m currently reworking two of my longer pieces, tightening them up in preparation for publication, whether that’ll be traditional or by me, myself, and I.

I still have a bunch of tales out there, wandering the night, and I’m waiting to hear back on their fate. That’s the hard part, the waiting…and waiting…and waiting. That waiting is why I already have the dedication prepared in the event I do self publish this anthology:

dedication

That they will be published is not the question. By whom, though… that is the question!

It’s odd, not scouring for new markets every morning as I enjoy my coffee. It’s as though the need to do that has simply turned itself off once I decided to seriously consider self publication. I don’t want to send anything else out there right now, as that would start a new cycle of waiting for a response.

I do need to be careful and not just dive in, though…there are a ton of considerations, many of which I probably haven’t even considered yet. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Research and read, read and research…that’s the ticket.

Oh, and patience. That too.