Writing Process Blog Hop

Okay, so I haven’t been keeping up with the blog every week like I keep saying I was going to do. I guess I’m just a slacker. I was supposed to post this a week or two ago, but better late than never I always say. A writer friend of mine, Jenn M (@brewedbohemian on Twitter) who posts her brewed bohemian blog asked me to do a blog hop tour and answer some questions and pass the baton on to three more bloggers who are supposed to do the same. Jenn’s blog has all kinds of cool stuff about writing, and her culinary adventures about beers, coffees, tea,food and other assorted topics. You can read some of her excellent poetry and flash fiction there as well. She is a very talented wordsmith and I’m looking forward to reading some of her longer fiction that she is currently working on. I met Jenn at ConDFW a couple of years ago when I was there as a guest author and she became one of my first big fans of my writing.

1) What am I working on?

A lot of things. I’m writing a short story for a horror anthology that John Manning is producing, and  another story for Michael H. Hanson’s Sha’Daa shared world anthology series. I’m workimg on a story for a space opera shared world anthology called Not to Yield that Michael Hanson, Ed McKeown and I are collaborating on with several other writers. Janet Morris and Chris Morris are putting together a heroic fantasy anthology that I plan on writing something to be submitted but I have only gotten into the early brain storming stage on that.  I have three novels in progress that I go back and forth working on from time to time when I figure out what’s supposed to happen next. One of these is dark fantasy/sword & sorcery, another is a sort of light, funny (hopefully) adventure fantasy, and a paranormal romance, just to see if I can write in that genre and because well, they sell like hotcakes and I really could use the money. I really want to get my first novel done and on the market. I’m always working out ideas and characters for the next Heroes in Hell shared universe anthology. Poets in Hell comes out this June, and the next book we are working on to be released in 2015 is Doctors in Hell, which should be as much fun or more to do than any of the other books I have stories in. I still don’t know who my character doctors will be. We use real figures from history and fictionalize them for the stories which all take place in hell in all it’s myriad forms and from all the myths and religions of the world. I do know that my recurring characters, Anton LaVey and Guy Fawkes will be in the story, getting into more trouble as always. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately, some of it specifically of a piratical theme for the performing group The Seadog Slam that I was asked to join earlier this year. We also put on a Steampunk show every month and so I’ve been composing some things in that vein as well.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmmm. Well, other than when I’m submitting to a genre specific anthology I really don’t write specific to a certain genre. But I’d say that my work tends to blend  irreverent humor with dark subject matter and has a certain snarkiness to it that defines my writing. With my poetry I tend to do a lot of free verse, although I do sometimes have some rhyming verse.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s fun! As I mentioned above I tend to write darker stuff, but with a certain amount of tongue in cheek humor to lighten the mood. I grew up reading pretty much everything I could get me hands on, but Science fiction, fantasy, sword & sorcery and  horror, were my mainstays of entertainment reading and still are. I like to write what I read. I figure I know these genres like the back of my hand so they come naturally to me as a writer. Now, the exception to this is the paranormal romance novel I mentioned. I want to challenge myself to get outside my comfort zone and see what I can do with this. I need to do some more reading of the genre I think to get a better grasp of how thing are supposed to work. Although I’m sure I’ll break a lot of the rules and standard tropes that paranormal romances tend to employ.

4) How does your writing process work?

My writing process is described as sporadic at best. I usually start with a kernel of an idea, maybe I know the general plot premise, or who the main character or characters are, and then have to build a story around that. Often I know how a story will begin and end, very early on. The middle bit is what stumps me a lot of the time. Sometimes the process doesn’t work at all. Some days I just can’t get my head into the characters, or they aren’t speaking to me to tell me what they are going to do or say next. I get frustrated at this, but it is an inevitable part of a writer’s life. I keep a lot of stories going all the time, so if I can’t figure out what I am doing in one of them, I have plenty of others to work on that hopefully I will be able to make progress on. Some days I am just too mentally drained to write at all. I put a lot of emotional and mental energy into my writing. It can be exhausting drawing that out of myself and into the story or poem.  And sometimes what I’m writing doesn’t feel right and I have to change things or even start all over again until it resonates with me more completely.

Picking up the Blog Hop Tour baton and posting answers to these questions next is Jessica Scott, a writer whose poetry and prose I have only just recently gotten to enjoy. She is an awesome writer and her work is very emotionally evocative. Also I think the title for her blog is so cool. Here is her info:

Jessica Scott is a Texas native, born in Tulia, Tx and raised in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She’s just beginning her writing journey, though she’s been writing since high school. Her focus is mostly poetry but she is currently working on some story ideas. She writes often on her blog, The Lunatic, the Lover, & the Poet at peaseblossym.wordpress.com where she shares some of her poetry, stories, and thoughts.

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The Horrors of Writing, or An Author’s Personal Boogey Man

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

I often struggle with writing because I am too critical of myself and my art and I tend to get in my own way too much, over thinking what I am doing. Trying to get my head into a particular story can sometimes be an effort in futility and madness. I can know exactly where I want to story to go, what is supposed to happen, but can’t seem to put myself into the setting or get enough into the characters’ minds to be able to feel like I can write the story effectively. I need to immerse myself in those worlds completely in order to write about them. So in these times I am stuck trying to finish a story and just cannot mentally or physically do it. It is a terrible feeling, and it puts me in a lousy mood. It also causes me the worst cases of stress induced  insomnia and restlessness. My wife will be the first to tell you that I am an irascible bastard to be around when I get like this. She also knows that once I get over it and finish whatever I’m working on that I will get back an even keel emotionally and be a much nicer person to live with. It has been that way for me lately as I have been wrapping up stories for submission to various anthologies. Janet Morris has been know to say, “When you’re writing for Hell, you’re going through hell” with regard to the Heroes in Hell series she created, and which I have had the privilege of having stories published in the latest two volumes, Lawyers in Hell, and Rogues in Hell. I have been writing my story for the next anthology in the series, Dreamers in Hell and had been having a rough time getting it done. Now that it is completed, with the exception of any re-writes or changes that it will need at the editor’s suggestions, I can at least feel some relief that it is finished. I put a lot of emotion into this story, dug deep into my heart and soul embracing my own torment to hopefully make the suffering of my characters more genuine. Whether I succeeded or not is up to others to judge. I hope I have done enough to make it a worthy contribution to the series.

On to other things, I did have a story, “Shadow of a Doubt” published earlier this week with the release of What Scares the Boogey Man? which is a horror anthology created and edited by John Manning and co-edited by Meghan Graham and Stormy Stogner. It is published by Perseid Publishing and is currently available as an eBook for Amazon Kindle here, and Barnes & Noble Nook here.  It will be available in trade paperback print form soon, from both Amazon and B&N and I will also have signed copies to sell with me at the various conventions and seminars that I will be a guest at this year. I am proud to share space with some of the most awesome and talented authors in the business in this anthology: Janet Morris, Nancy Asire, David Conyers, Robert M. Price, J.D. Fritz, Jason Cordova, Thomas Barczak, C. Dean Andersson, Beverly Hale, Chris Morris, Michael H. Hanson, Larry Atchley Jr, Richard Groller, Bill Snider, Wayne Borean, John Manning, Bettina Meister,  and Shirley Meier. Eighteen tales of spine chilling terror await within.

We have a book launch virtual party going on at Facebook here if you’d like to join. And there is a facebook “LIKE” page Here that you can visit and show your support. Last but not least, is the excellent book trailer that was created by Team Zombie Zak. Watch it on You Tube HERE.

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My next announcement is that I will be a guest author at ConDFW again this year, I will be on discussion panels and will be reading one of my stories, and signing and selling the books that I have stories in, including Sha’Daa: Pawns and hopefully if I get the copies in time, What Scares the Boogey Man? The tentative panel list so far includes one on Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance and one on  writing stories for anthologies. I’m really looking forward to the convention this year and I hope to see you there. It is always great to meet with fellow writers, and fans. ConDFW is February 15th-17th this year in Addison, Texas. Go to the website HERE for more info.

Also I wanted to mention that the student indie film, The Dark Man, created by Tim Stevens and that I had mentioned in a previous post, met its Kickstarter goal today. Thanks to everyone who contributed and promoted the project. I can’t wait to see the finished short film, as I know it will be awesome. Congrats to writer/director Tim Stevens, and his crew, producer Sarah Wagner, Dir. of Photography Tyler Burns, and editor Joey McCleskey. I’m glad I could be a part of making this happen and I wish you the best in completing the project.

That’s about all that’s going on right now. As always I’m working on the next stories that hopefully will make it into the next anthologies and at some point I’ll get back on track with writing my dark fantasy novel that my wife keeps pushing me to finish so she can read it. As always, I’ll leave you with a pithy quote.

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

-Junot Diaz

The Nightmare Machine 2012 Unconventional Convention

This post is long overdue, considering I attended this convention way back in the end of March. But better late than never I always say.

The Nightmare Machine 2012 was a steampunk convention with a paranormal theme. It was created and organized by Steampunk Illumination Society. It took place March 30th through April 1st, in Jefferson, Texas which is purported to be the most haunted town in the Lone Star State. Whether it is or not is hotly debated amongst skeptics and believers. But it certainly is one of the most well preserved. By setting this event in and around the historic downtown district of Jefferson, it already set it apart from all other cons which typically take place within the confines of a hotel.

Some of the activities  included in this event included a steamboat ride, which I missed because I got into Jefferson too late Friday, a steam train ride, which i didn’t get to go on because the train derailed a couple of hours before my scheduled ticket reservation and the tracks had to be repaired. They did get the tracks repaired later that day and honored the earlier tickets for a ride that night, but I chose not to go, because I was busy attending other events at the time. The other activity that I did go on was the  ghost walk tour of the haunted hotspots in Jefferson. Guide Jodi Breckenridge was extremly knowledgable and shared some great stories about the history of Jefferson’s haunted past.

I was fortunate to be asked to this convention as a guest author and panelist which meant that I got to read my story, “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” from the Heroes in Hell series anthology, Lawyers in Hell, in front of a small but attentive audience. Thanks especially to Elizabeth and Mike Stewart who attended and were great to meet and talk to about writing.  They had heard about me from a mutual friend of ours, Mike Badolato, who suggested they might like to hear my reading. Thanks for promoting me, Mike! Also at the reading was someone who I greatly admire as a musician, songwriter, and vocalist, Darwin Prophet .  Thanks also to everyone else who attended my reading, sorry if I didn’t catch your names to put in this blog, but your show of support was appreciated.

Saturday night was an incredible festival of splendid sound called “A Symphonic Celebration”. The featured bands were Marquis of Vaudeville, My Wooden Leg, Sarasvati Bodhisattva, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror, and BB Blackdog. All were wonderful and brought their own unique  style of music to the concert. Earlier that day, my favorited band, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror played a special acoustic performance of songs from their album, Oscar Wilde’s Serenade,  in front of the Excelsior House Hotel. It was a lovely and moving tribute to the poetic works of Oscar Wilde who had stayed at the Excelsior House once during his travels through Texas.

I got to hold a discussion panel/presentation on the history of paranormal investigating, procedures and equipment which was fun. Thanks to those who attended, including Larry and Tina Amyett, and Jonathan Morgan. Larry and Tina from North Texas Dieselpunks did a presentation later that day on the history of Dieselpunk that was really cool and informative. These panels were held at the Museum of Measurement & Time which was an interesting place and the owners are very nice people.

Other various fun events included the premier of the short film “Mechanical Grave” and the Late Night Social and Tea Duelling put on by the members of the band BB Blackdog. I did a little tea duelling myself, although I lost my round, so I need to practice more. I think I’m better at drinking tea than dueling with it. If you wonder what exactly tea duelling is, this is a good web page that explains it here. There were many other panels on things like  sword fencing, making Steampunk costumes, real tales of ghostly experiences and more. There were also several vendors selling all manner of steampunk themed stuff, from costumes, weapons, accesories, art, and music.

I want to especially thank Stephanie Moran of the Steampunk Illumination Society for making me a part of this very special and historic event. Thanks to everyone at the S.I.S. for putting on a great and memorable convention that was one of a kind, like no other I have attended. Even the event badges were unique, as they were made out of engraved brass plates.  I met a lot of wonderful people, had tons of fun, saw some great sites around Jefferson, and made many new friends.