The Life of a Piratical Con Man

Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves. Rudyard Kipling

I have two big events coming up this week that involve my writing and public speaking.

The first one is An Evening of Pirate Poetry and Tales of the Sea with The Seadog Slam crew. This is a recurring event every third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 PM at the Half Price Books flagship store at 5803 E. Northwest Highway Dallas, TX 75231. This month on Feb 19th we are doing Pirate Idol which is our open microphone part of the show where members of the audience can perform on stage. Music, singing, and poetry readings of a nautical nature are all welcome. Dress in your best pirate garb if you have it, and hang out with us for a fun filled evening. I’ll be reading an original poem or two, and maybe something from one of my favorite classical poets. I am happy to say that I have been made an auxiliary member of the Seadog Slam crew and am very honored to perform with these fine folks.

The next one is ConDFW, an annual literary convention that takes place on Feb 21st-23rd this year in Dallas. It is held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 14315 Midway Road, Addison, Texas 75001. I will be a guest author at this event doing discussion panels, a book signing, and a story reading. Below is my schedule for the weekend:

SATURDAY:
READING (Trinity VIII)
Saturday, 10am: Michelle Muenzler, Larry Atchley, Jr., Bev Hale

PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 12pm: Researching the Past: Creating Historical Fiction
Panelists: Taylor Anderson, Larry Atchley, Jr., Lou Antonelli (M), Sabine Starr, Melanie Fletcher
It is hard to recreate the past without doing research into it. This is simply because we, the readers and authors, didn’t LIVE in that past. Thus, to understand what it was like to live in those times we must look to other sources for information – journals, pictures, drawings, anything we can get our hands on. Our panelists explain where to go and what to look for when trying to create another time in our heads.

MAIN PROGRAMMING (Addison Lecture Hall)
Saturday, 5pm: Writing and Collaborating in Shared World Anthologies
Panelists: Larry Atchley Jr. (M), Bev Hale, P.N. Elrod, Sabine Starr
Star Wars, Star Trek, Middle Earth, War of the Worlds. There are many worlds out there which authors love to explore. But how do you put one together many visions into one book? How do you write for such an anthology? Our panelists talk about their experiences with shared world anthologies.

PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 6pm: Horror 101: Exploring the subgenres
Panelists: C. Dean Andersson (M), Christopher Fulbright, Stormy Stogner Medina, Larry Atchley Jr.
There are so many genres that are lumped together into Horror. Examples are: Lovecraftian, Ghosts, Zombies, Urban, Apocalypse, Epic, Splatter-punk, Slasher, Asian, and the many Witch-Werewolf-Vampire types (True Love vs Dresden Files vs Twilight vs etc.). We bring together several of our acclaimed horror writers to explain what horror truly is, and where to look for inspiration.

SUNDAY:
AUTOGRAPHS (Dealers Room)
Sunday, 2pm: Larry Atchley, Jr., William Ledbetter

PROGRAMMING 3 (Trinity VII)
Sunday, 3pm: Upwardly Mobile: Writing about Dirigibles and Other Flights of Fancy
Panelists: Larry Atchley, Jr. (M), Lou Antonelli, Rachel Acks, Rie Sheridan Rose, Shanna Swendson
One of the most common sights in both Steampunk and Cyberpunk is the dirigible. Otherwise known as zeppelins or blimps, the hydrogen or helium filled craft lazily float through the sky. It is one thing, however, to imagine it. It is entirely another to be able to write about it believably. For instance, which of the above named craft has NO internal supporting frame? (Blimps!) Our authors talk about the differences and other things to know about when writing about semi-rigid airships.

I really love this convention, for so many reasons, and it’s great to meet up with a lot of my writer friends who i usually only see two or three times a year at these events. I’d love to see you at the con, so come out and have fun with me and my fellow authors.

On the writing front, I have been penning some poetry lately and trying to work on some of my short stories and novels in progress. The poetry seems to be coming fairly easily lately,but the prose, not so much. I’ve been having a hard time getting my head into the stories or into the frame of mind of my characters well enough to do much writing on them. I’m hoping this will change soon, as I have way too much that needs to be written to let anything slow me down. I know it will pass in time, but I’m anxious to get these stories finished and put to bed. I have editors waiting for some of these and I hate to miss a deadline or lose an opportunity to get them published in their respective anthologies. I may need to have a steel cage wrestling match with my inner demons, or entice my muse with chocolate and music so  I can get these suckers  done and dusted.

Well that’s it for this week. I hope to see you all at these fun events this week. Until then I leave you with another pithy quote to close out my post.

No writing comes alive unless the writer sees across his desk a reader, and searches constantly for the word or phrase which will carry the image he wants the reader to see, and arouse the emotion he wants him to feel. Without consciousness of a live reader, what a man writes will die on his page. Barbara W. Tuchman

 

 

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A Writer’s Holiday, or Wrestling With my Inner Daimons

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I am taking a vacation from the mundane day job this Thanksgiving week to get some much needed writing done.  I plan to try to put things around the house in some semblance of order as well, as with both my wife and mine’s work schedules, house chores tend to get put off to a  time that we call “I’ll get to it later.”

One of the stories I am working on is one that will hopefully be included in the next book in the Heroes in Hell series, created by Janet Morris, Dreamers in Hell. Old familiar faces from my previously published stories in the shared-world anthologies  Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell will return in this yarn. It deals with Anton LaVey trying to come to terms with his death and damnation in Hell by seeking psychiatric council from famous psychologist and spiritualist, William James. Also, Guy Fawkes having given up on trying to redeem his way out of Hell, has decided to try to blow his way out. Calamity ensures of course, and it should be a fun tale to read when it’s all done. As I did with the previous two stories, I have collaborated with a few of the other Hellion authors to connect my story with theirs in the larger meta-arc storyline that will be present throughout much of the anthology. This book should be very dynamic in nature and I think may end up containing some of the best stories from the series to date.

Another pending project is to write and submit a Victorian era historical fiction horror story for the anthology  Terror By Gaslight. I have the basic concept of the story and I know who my main character is, so the  preliminary work is done. Now I just have to start the actual writing of the story and hope that my daimons of inspiration will help me keep the words flowing. We writers contributing to the book have been given free reign to give the stories a steampunk twist if we so desire, but I’m not sure yet if mine will actually go in that direction. It has the possibility of doing so, but I won’t know until I really get into the meat of the writing process. I know quite a lot of writers who have set stories in the steampunk genre and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself from time to time so it would be fun to take it in that direction. It opens up so many possibilities that the story couldn’t have if I stuck with a traditional historical tale.

Speaking of steampunk, I’ve been listening to a lot of steampunk music lately that has I think been driving my creative forces onward in the right direction. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror captivated my attention from the first moment I heard them play live at The Difference Engine steampunk convention that night on New Year’s Eve 2011. Darwin’s sound ranges from what has been termed steampop, literary rock, and  rock and roll. Her album Oscar Wilde’s Serenade is a beautiful tribute to the poet, with songs written to his lyrics. The song “Don’t Panic” is dedicated to Douglas Adams and Gene Roddenberry. They recently filmed an awesome video for the song that you can watch HERE.

“I could be the anomaly, I could be the missing link between reality and your point of view. You know you boldly go where no one’s ever thought to go. The captain of your ship has lost her grip but she won’t let it show. If you slip into a black hole, don’t panic, don’t panic. If you can see into my soul, don’t panic. I won’t let go.” 

-Darwin Prophet, “Don’t Panic”

Darwin is a wonderful, intelligent, creative, and incredibly talented person. She is a gifted songwriter, musician, vocalist, and artist. I am fortunate to call her my friend. The Chronus Mirror band is made up of Maestro on violin, and DarKo on viola, vocals and percussion, both incredibly talented musicians in thier own right.

Marquis of Vaudeville is another favorite band I’ve seen perform at steampunk events. I keep listening to and watching the video for the song Utopian Playland, over and over. It is such a poignant anthem for these  jaded times in which we live as we strive to eke out a meagre living  trading most of the hours of our lives performing mundane repetitive tasks to earn a fistful of dollars.

“Productive members of society, that’s all we’re ever taught to be. But when society is failing, the dreamers rise up and will lead, to Utopian Playland.” –Marquis of Vaudeville, Utopian Playland.

The song is a tribute to the ideology of Dr. Steel who proposed that our top priority should be to have fun. I think it is a wonderful sentiment. The dreamers, writers, poets, artists, philosophers, and musicians should be allowed to create and play unfettered by the shackles of drudgery.

Recently I had a story called ‘Time For A Change”  published in the shared-world anthology, Sha’Daa: Pawns. The series is created by Michael H. Hanson, and edited by Edward F. McKeown. This book deals with stories about the Forces of Good battling the Forces of Evil during an event called The Sha’Daa,which takes place every ten thousand years on earth, in which the walls between our dimension and other darker more malevolent ones grows thin, and evil crosses over to try to annihilate and enslave mankind and take over the world. During this period, mankind must fight back with the help of the enigmatic and mysterious Johnny the Salesman. He trades items of powerful magical ability with ordinary people  to try to stop the Sha’Daa from happening. This is the third volume in the series, but it can be enjoyed without having read the first two, Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, and Sha’Daa: Last Call.

In September I was honored to be a guest at the Friends of the Bedford Public Library event, Evening With the Authors, where I read my story, “Ragnarok & Roll” from the book Rogues in Hell and got to answer questions from the audience about my writing.  It was really wonderful and made me feel very special as this is my local library where I check out books, so it felt great to be among my fellow local authors like Joanne Faries, Rebecca Balcarcel, Sharon K. Owen, and special guest from out of state, Sarah A. Hoyt who is a Prometheus Award winning author.

Well, that’s about all for now. I hope all my American readers have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Until next time…