The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat at LibertyCon

“Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.”

– Leo Rosten

I’ll be a guest author at LibertyCon again this year, June 27-29 in Chattanooga, TN. This is my fourth year as a guest and I love this fantasy/science fiction convention so much.  As we have done every year, The Irredeemable Order of Hellions will be having a book launch party at 10:00 PM in the Con Suite for our latest volume in the Heroes in Hell Series, created by Janet Morris and published by Perseid Press. This year we bring you Poets in Hell.

Poets in Hell, vol 17 in the Heroes in Hell series created by Janet Morris,from Perseid Press.

Poets in Hell, vol 17 in the Heroes in Hell series created by Janet Morris,from Perseid Press.

Here is the link to my schedule of appearances at LibertyCon this year.

Or if you prefer to just read it here:

Fri 03:00PM Reading – Larry Atchley, Jr. and Tamara Lowery
Fri 05:00PM Opening Ceremonies
Fri 08:00PM Paranormal Activities Panel
Sat 12:00PM Autograph Session
Sat 01:00PM What’s New in Horror and Dark Fantasy?
Sat 05:00PM What’s New from Perseid Publishing
Sat 07:00PM Poets in Hell
Sat 09:00PM What’s new from Iron Clad Press
Sat 10:00PM Perseid Press, Moondream Press and Iron Clad Press Book Launch Parties; IOH and Fictioneers Parties
Sun 12:00PM Autograph Session

 

I always have a great time at conventions, and LibertyCon is no exception. It was my very first convention that I attended as a guest author so it is very special to me. Thanks go out to Rich Groller for getting myself and a lot of our other Hellion authors on the guest list every year since 2011. There will be a few of us Hellions around at LibertyCon this year: David L. Burkhead, Jason Cordova, David Drake (from the original Heroes in Hell books published from 1986-1989 by Baen Books) Jack Finley, Rich Groller, Michael H. Hanson, John Manning, Beth Patterson, (who is also the musical performer guest this year), pdmac, and Michael Z.Williamson.

I hope to see you there. It will be a hella good time.

“I have gone into yesterday and tomorrow and both were as real as today — which is like the dreams of ghosts!”
-ROBERT E. HOWARD, Kull: Exile of Atlantis

 

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Fun Stuff I’ve Been Doing So Far This Year

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”-Winston Churchill

Okay, I know I haven’t been keeping up with posting the blog on a regular basis. Again. I am bad. I am incorrigible. I am a procrastinator by trade. For those of you who have stuck with following this blog even through its intermittent ramblings, I thank you. There is a lot to catch up on so this will be a lengthy discourse of what’s been going on in my life over the past few months.

At the end of last year I started attending The Seadog Slam’s bimonthly shows that took place at the Half Price Books Flagship Store in Dallas. Every first Wednesday there was a Steampunk show with songs performed , poetry read,and neat garb and gadgets displayed, as well as presentation son Steampunk culture and literature. I wrote a couple of Steampunk poems that I read, presented a brief biography of Jules Verne, and also read a review I wrote of Jessica McHugh’s book,  The Sky, the World. Every Third Wednesday of the month there was a pirate themed show performed by the crew members of The Seadog Slam, with an open mic session for the last half of the show. Performers dressed in their pirate garb for full effect and I broke out my pirate costume that I had put together a few years ago to wear to parties, pirate festivals and Renaissance faires. I had been writing a few pirate poems which I read at these sessions which were apparently well received, as I was asked earlier this year to join the Seadog Slam as as auxiliary crew member. This meant I would be on call to help them complete a roster of performers for various events in North Texas especially when regular members cannot attend. Words cannot express how happy I was to join this group of pirate poets. Recently they even decided to make me a regular crew member, which means I will have an opportunity to perform at all their shows and on CD’s they record of poetry and songs. I purchased a copy of The Pirate Primer so I can brush up on my piratical lingo. I’ve been wanting to buy this book ever since I checked it out from the Bedford Public Library a few years ago. Now I had a good excuse for acquiring it. Like I needed a reason to buy a book about pirates. Ha ha! The Seadog Slam will be working on a CD of dirty limericks this Summer so I have to get cracking to write some original limericks to read for the recording.

In April The Seadog Slam were the MC’s at an event called Down to the Depths: A Ghost Pirate Masquerade at the Wit’s End club in Dallas’ historic entertainment district, Deep Ellum. It was a show put on by The Shadow Society to raise funds for the Steampunk November 2014 event. Earlier that week I had broken one of my hard contact lenses and had been forced to wear my coke bottle glasses to see. Determined not to look like a dork at the show, I decided that once I got to the club I would put in my one left contact lens and wear my pirate eye patch over the other eye for piratical effect. That was all well and good, except I had not counted on it being so hard to read my poem with one eye. A lack of depth perspective really messes things up. I managed to pull off the reading somewhat, although it was certainly not my best performance to date. Nothing a bit of rum couldn’t make better though. Ah, it’s a pirate’s life for me. Arrgh!

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

All the performers that night were wonderful, from the opening band, Irish  Blind, the burlesque performers, and sword fighting by Cut, Thrust & Run. It was fun being an MC, and  introducing the band Esoterik, whose music and performance I really enjoyed. Allison Eckfeldt’s vocals and dancing were awesome, Brady Bledsoe on Guitar and keyboards was amazing, and Austin Hayes on keyboards was excellent. I got the band to autograph their CD I bought, and they were all very cool nice people to talk to. They are from Oklahoma City which is my birth city and where I still  have a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins living in the area. I will have to catch some more of their shows in the future. I’m hoping they will be back here in Dallas soon, or that I can make it up to OK City.

Going back a little earlier in the year, in February I was a guest author at the ConDFW literary fan convention. This is my third year as a guest and I had a blast as always being on discussion panels, doing readings and book signings. I get to meet up with a lot of fellow authors who are friends at these events and generally have a great time. There are too many people to mention everyone here and I will inevitably forget someone, since my memory is like  sieve. So my apologies if I don’t name you, but I have to at least run down a short list of people I got to hang out with and or be on panels with: Dean Andersson, Ethan Nahte, Selina Rosen, William Ledbetter, Bev Hale, Michelle Muenzler, Nina Romberg, Lou Antonelli, Melanie Fletcher, Mel White, Angeline Hawkes, Christopher Fulbright, Amie Spengler, Rachael Acks. Special thanks to friends and fellow writers Alaura Sandler and Jenn Monty who took photos of me on several panels.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

Promoting the anthologies I am published in and talking about writing and fiction fandom is always a pleasure. The after parties are always awesome as well and I get way too little  sleep during these convention weekends. But it is all so worth it. I’m looking forward to next year already. I had someone snap a photo of me at my signing table with all the books In which I have stories published. And I’m proudly wearing both my Irredeemable Order of Hellions, and Fictioneers badges. On my right arm is my Bethodist patch marking me as an adherent of my friend Beth Patterson’s personal spiritual  movement of bouzouki babe worship and musical religiosity. More on Beth later in this post. It’s harder to see in this photo but I’m also wearing my Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror patch showing my support for yet another awesome group of musicians.  Thanks to my daughter Alina for making the armbands and sewing the patches on for me.

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

 

Next up in my busy Spring schedule of fun stuff was the North Texas Irish Festival. I have been going to this event ever since around 1996. It has been going on for over thirty years now, and is the largest Celtic music festival in the South, and one of the largest in the USA. There are so many excellent bands and solo musicians that play this festival. Also it has huge vendor turnout and there are so many great hand crafted items for sale. Money was tight this year so I couldn’t go crazy with the purchases, but I did pick up a CD from one of my favorite bands, Poor Man’s Fortune,  and a really cool pin/brooch with the skull & crossbones on it. I figured it would go well with my pirate garb.

It has been my pleasure to get to know the band members of Poor Man’s Fortune, especially Beth Patterson who I met initially on facebook a couple of years ago through mutual friends. We got to meet in person last year at the Irish Festival and we swapped copies of my anthologies that I have stories in for a bunch of her music CD’s. She had confessed that she was a musician with writer envy, and that she was working on writing a fiction story based on her experiences in the music business.  I told her that I was a writer with musician envy and that I wanted to put a band together. We realized that we both appreciate good music, good books, and irreverent dark humor, so a solid friendship was inevitable. We got  along so well in fact, I decided that she must be my long-lost evil twin sister that I never knew I had.

I introduced her on Facebook to some of my fellow Hellion authors and especially Janet Morris, and also some other editors with publishers that were looking for stories to put in anthologies. She just had a story published in a collection called Rise of the Goddess, and she will have a story in the next Heroes in Hell book, Poets in Hell which also will have my story “Poetic Injustice” in it. So she is now officially a Hellion author after earning her way into our illustrious ranks with what I’m sure will be a very good story that I am looking forward to reading. Earlier this year she also published her first book Mongrels & Misfits, which has an awesome short story and a whole bunch of her song lyrics in it. I got to be one of her beta readers for the story and she thanked me in the acknowledgements page of her book which was cool and very sweet of her to do.

She is an excellent musician and is turning out to be just as good of a writer as well. I like to refer to her as the hardest working musician in the business because it seems like she is always playing gigs, recording albums,  and promoting herself 24/7/365. She performs in and around New Orleans Louisiana when she is not on tour in various other parts of the world, like Japan, and Canada.  She will be performing her music at this year’s LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN where we will both be guest authors as well. Check out her web page here at Bethpattersonmusic.com. She just released an excellent  new solo album Fast Forward which you can purchase on her webpage. She has it available as a digital download and as a USB flash drive that is made into a rubber bracelet so you can wear her  music. Here’s a photo of Beth performing with Poor Man’s Fortune which includes Larry Rone on vocals and wind instruments ,  Richard Kean on pipes, Wolf Loescher on drums and percussion, and Beth Patterson on vocals and bouzouki. They just released a new CD called Bayou Curious that has a blend of Cajun, Scottish, Breton, and French traditional music, and it is a joy to listen to. It is very lively and upbeat. You can buy it on the Poor Man’s Fortune webpage.

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Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Some other great bands I saw at NTIF this year included The Town Pants, from Canada, who closed out their set witha  cover of Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, which was totally unexpected. Also the band  Beyond the Pale who I have seen perform several years at NTIF and other Celtic music festivals like the no longer active Celtic Heritage Festival which was held in my home town of Bedford. There was so much excellent music but these are the ones that stand out in my mind the most.

Okay so on to the next convention and this is a big one that I have been honored with being a guest at for the past three years. All-Con in Dallas. This event encompasses everything to do with fandom whether it is science fiction, fantasy, horror literature, film or television, anime, women’s roller derby, burlesque entertainment, stand up comedy, sword fighting action shows, music, etc. You name it and there is probably a discussion panel or performance to do with it at All-Con. I got to be on some great panels with some awesome authors this year as always. First and foremost I must mention my friend Jenn Monty who helped me come up with topics  for five of the panels that we were on this year.  She also did meticulous research and printed out notes for us to use, including creating a writers’ notebook for compiling story notes and information for our panel on how to organize all the stuff you use when writing a novel. She made several copies which were handed out to the audience. We had a really good turnout for that one. Jenn publishes a blog called Brewed Bohemian where she posts her flash fiction and poetry, along with the latest open submissions for story contests and anthologies. She posts reviews about beer on there too  which is really cool. Jenn is a very talented writer, and I hope we will share credits in an anthology together someday. She recently asked me to be one of the judges in a Steampunk & Dieselpunk flash fiction contest called Dirty Goggles that she was holding along with some other authors. Go check out her blog to read the stories and find out who won. Plus check out all the other cool stuff there too.

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

I shared panels with some other awesome fellow authors and experts like Larry And Tina Amyett of the North Texas Dieselpunks, Steve and Melody Sanders of The Seadog Slam, Ethan Nahte, Mel White, Bart de Boisblanc, and Gloria Oliver. I also got to hang out with my good friend Darwin Prophet who was one of the musical guests this year. I got to see a whole bunch of other friends that I usually only see at cons or other special events. There are probably too many people to list and I will inevitably forget someone so I’ll just leave it at that. You all know who you are.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

On March 19th I put together a author reading event that took place at the Half Price Books Dallas Flagship store. How this came about was that the Seadog Slam crew were not going to be able  to do their usual pirate themed show they presented the third Wednesday of every month. I was asked if I wanted to put on an event by myself. I leapt at the chance and I decided that rather than do a pirate show I wanted to do something different where authors of various genres could read their work to an audience. Thus was born The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue. I gathered together five local Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex authors which included myself, Darwin Prophet, Jenn Monty, Jessica Scott, William Ledbetter. Author C. Dean Andersson was supposed to read too but had to cancel due to having the Flu. We had a small but enthusiastic audience and the event went well. It was the first time that both Jessica and Jenn  had ever read before an audience and they did awesome even though they admitted they were very nervous. They each read some poetry and flash fiction that was excellent. Check out Jessica’s blog, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet where she posts a lot of her poetry and prose, and Jenn’s blog at Brewed Bohemian. William read excerpts from a couple of science fiction short stories that were very gripping and intense. I read part of my Rogues in Hell story, “Ragnarok & Roll” and Darwin read a bunch of her “prosetry” that includes her day to day thoughts and musings, and closed the event beautifully by singing the British anthem “Jerusalem” which was written from a poem by William Blake.  We all had a great time and I was glad to be able to bring some fellow authors together to showcase their talents. I’m hoping to do another one of these sometime in the future.

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Something cool that I got to attend in April was the short film premier of Love is a Grave, by my friend Tim Stevens with Title Pending Productions and Tim Stevens Films. The premier party was called Into the Grave and was held at the dance club The Church in Dallas’ historic Deep Ellum arts and music district by The Shadow Society. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror performed at the premier and Darwin actually co-wrote music for the film with Director/Filmmaker Tim Stevens. Another band that performed that night was Ending the Vicious Cycle fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist, Toby Rider. There was also a dark burlesque show which included Vivienne Vermuth and Cat de Lynn. The film was awesome and the party was a blast. I had a lot of fun dancing and hanging out with friends including Cindy House who I have known since  high school and who I hadn’t seen in a few years, and who is a regular at The Church.

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens'short film Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens’short film Love is a Grave

Also in April I also got to be an extra in one of Tim’s latest projects, a web series called You are Here, that was filmed at The Curtain Club in Deep Ellum in Dallas. That was a lot of fun, but it was hot hard work. I was in several scenes that involved dancing at a Goth vampire night club party. They couldn’t run the Air Conditioning units because of the noise and it was very hot inside the club. It didn’t help that I was wearing leather pants, boots, and my signature long black coat. My friend Darwin Prophet was also there as an extra to help support Tim’s project. I also got to be in a few additional scenes that just involved standing and acting like I was talking to another extra, Shana, who I met at the filming. She was pretty cool and has some interesting life stories. She is about my size, (petite that is) and also takes martial arts so we had that in common to talk about. She is a professional model working in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  I met a lot of other great people who were extras and part of the cast and crew. Special thanks to Tim Stevens, John McCullagh, Mary Rochford, Jessica Sheriff, and everyone else involved with the production for making me a part of the action and taking great care of us by providing lots of water to drink and pizza for dinner. The web series is supposed to air sometime in June, so I’ll be sure to post a link to it in my blog when it does. I hope I look halfway decent in the shots.

In May I went to fellow author Seth Skorkowsky’s book signing for his first published novel Damoren. It was held at game store Area 51 Gaming & Collectibles in Grapevine Texas, the town where I grew up. I met Seth at All-Con this year and it turns out that we have a lot of mutual friends in the writing and Steampunk community. I just finished reading his book and it is a thrilling action packed adventure with some very excellent writing and includes some very interesting concepts. It is book one of The Valducan series and I can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out next year. I’m looking forward to finally finishing one of my novels so I can do one of these events for a book that is all my own work. I love writing short stories and poems for anthologies, but having my own novel completed and published would be a great feeling.

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Well that is about it for now. The next big event things coming up for me will be attending Robert E Howard Days in Cross Plains Texas  and attending LibertyCon as a guest author, both in June. This will be my first time to go to Howard Days. I have heard a lot of great things about it form fellow authors so I am looking forward to it. It is my fourth year as a guest at LibertyCon, which was the first con to book me as an author in 2011 after I had my first published short story appear in Lawyers in Hell.

I am working on my dark fantasy/sword & sorcery novel that I am aiming at finishing this year. Also the usual short stories and poems as always. I’ll keep everyone posted here whenever I have my next stories and poems published. I have a few things coming out this Summer.

I’ll leave you with a pithy quote as usual. Thanks again for following my blog and I’ll try not to take so long between posts next time.

“Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.”
-Dean Koontz

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.

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

Digging Up the Past, or Getting Your Hands Dirty With History

“You have to know the past to understand the present.”
-Carl Sagan

As someone who enjoys history, I spend a lot of time looking to the past. This weekend started out with the topic on Pairanormal, the radio show that I co-host at TMV Cafe  about the real life serial killer in which the legendary Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was based upon. 18th century London, England where he lived is a facinating subject in and of itself. And I love to study anything that has to do with the history of England, partly because that’s where most of my ancesters are from.

I’ve also been working on a story that takes place in the Victorian Era of the 19th century, for John Manning’s  horror anthology “Terror by Gaslight”, so I’ve been reading up on that time period a bit to make sure I have a good feel for the age and its trappings. One of the things I love to do as a writer, is research a topic, which invariably leads me to other interesting topics. Then I get so caught up in the joy of the research, that I don’t actually sit down and finish writing the damn story until it’s almost time to turn it in before deadline. That’s where I’m at right now with this story, so I had better put the books down and get cracking at it already.

However, seeing as the weather was nice today, my daughter and I had the idea that it would be fun to finally dig up a couple of ammonite fossils that had come to the surface of my front yard. That combined with a few other chores and errands that needed to be done, I didn’t accomplish as much writing today as I would have liked.  But I must say, that my ammonite collection is coming along nicely. One of them managed to only have a small piece on the underside break off, but was otherwise completely intact. It has a beautiful spiral pattern that is very well defined and may be the best looking specimen that I’ve gotten form my yard to date. The other one we were not so lucky with as a good portion of the underside had been removed from tree roots growing through it. Still, the topside looks quite nice, good enough to put in my fossil garden. By my reasoning, with all these ammonites in my yard, there may be a fossilized ichthyosaur or plesiosaur skeleton in my yard just waiting to be found. But then, I’m no expert, and I write fiction so you really can’t believe anything that I tell you anyway. Fun fact: Ammonites are named after the Egyptian god Ammon who was depicted as having rams horns on his head.

If you like audiobooks, this one of  “A Man and His God“, a Sacred Band Tale, by Janet Morris, with voice work by David Kudler will be available soon. You can listen to a couple of free excepts of the audiobook here on David’s blog at Stillpoint Digital Press. from listening to the excepts it sounds like a great voice work, and a wonderful addition to the Sacred Band series.

Well that’s a wrap for this week’s blog, not much else of note going on right now, but check in next week because you never know what I’ll be up to by then.  Until next time, I’ll leave you with another pithy quote:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

-Lewis Carroll

A New Year of Unlimited Possibilities or, Write or Die!

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”
-Kahlil Gibran

It’s 2013 and no time to rest on my laurels. This proves to be a busy year for writing. I just need to get my head into these stories so I can get the words down. This always seems to be the biggest stumbling block for me as a writer. It’s not so much of a writers’ block as the ideas are there, it’s just hard sometimes to get in the right frame of mind to get the words to come out to reflect what I’m feeling needs to be in the story. I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately and I’m just not sure why. I have this obsession with the ideas of where creativity and inspiration come from, and how we harness them to write, create art, music, etc. I recently picked up a book, “The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain” by Alice W. Flaherty that is a fascinating study both scientifically and philosophically of these concepts. I’m hoping it will give me some insight into my own creative processes and how to better channel them into my writing.

On a really cool note, here is something that I think you all will enjoy: the audio book of  the Sacred Band tale, “Wake of the Riddler” by Janet Morris, and narrated by Alex Hyde-White, available from Audible at Amazon.com. Excellent story and outstanding narration make this short story from the book, “The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-Girl” a must have for fans of The Sacred Band, and readers new to the series, even. There is a free sample of part of the story narration at the link to the audio book that you should really check out.

Something else going on in 2013; I have been confirmed as a guest author panelist at ConDFW, February 15th-17th and All-Con, March 8th-10th. Both conventions are in Dallas, Texas and are shaping up to be better than ever this year, with a big line-up of guests and events. If you are in the area those weekends you should attend. You will not be disappointed. The convention directors at All-Con let panelists create their own topics for discussion, and I came up with a panel about the source of creativity that will include a flash fiction writing exercise. I am also doing a panel on dark fantasy and horror genres in writing that will cover their similarities and differences and some examples of both. I’m bringing on board some fellow writers and friends of mine, JennM,  Joan Fritz, and others to help me with these topics. Check out Jenn M’s blog here at  Brewed Bohemian.

That’s about all for now folks. Thanks for tuning in. I’m committed to keeping to this weekly blog  schedule like I said I would, even if some of these posts may be short and sweet, like me. Heh, heh. I’ll leave you with another fun and spiffy 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

 

Reflections on Love & Life or, This Time It’s Personal

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” -John Milton

I usually talk about my current writing works in progress here, but nothing has changed since my post last week, other than that I am making progress on my story which is tentatively titled, “Knocking on Heaven’s Gates” to be submitted to the anthology, Dreamers in Hell.
So today I’d like to share with my readers something a bit more on the personal side of my life. Something that I experienced yesterday that put a lot of things in perspective for me. I was helping my wife Sussie with a client photo shoot at the Dallas Arboretum. Something I have done many times before, so nothing unusual, or new really. But while I was watching her taking photos from behind her camera I had this sudden epiphany. Seeing her doing what she loves so much, made me realise just how much I really love her. When she has her camera in front of her eyes and she’s in “the zone” taking shots, she transforms into this being of creativity and freedom. It is  moments like that when I see the carefree, spirited, light-hearted woman who I met and married thirteen years ago who took a chance at love and a new life with this fool of a dreamer, poet, writer, with a moody temperament and dark soul.

Time and tide test the mettle of even the strongest relationship. We have had our rocky periods when we both thought the dream of a life together might come to an end. Things have been rough this year, with the stress  of financial hardships we’ve had to endure, Sussie getting her photography business off the ground, and me trying to get a writing career going while trying to do well at a new day job. So many changes happened this year, but change means your life is evolving, isn’t stuck in the mire of stagnation.  But we have persevered because of our committment that we made on that day we vowed troth to each other. Ever since we met each other we knew that our relationship went beyond this life and time. We were drawn together in this life, because we knew each other before, in another time, another place, another life. We sensed within each other that we were soul mates and were meant to be together, in the past, in this life, and in many more to come.

The rub of the whole issue however, is that I believe we can’t choose who we fall in love with.  It just happens, often when you least expect it to, and like getting on a roller coaster, you just have to hang on for the ride. And often the ones we fall in love with are not the most compatible person that we could be with, and yet, somehow it works. Also, the one you love the most is the one who will inevitably hurt you more than anyone else in your life. It seems to go with the territory. A relationship that is genuine, powerful and true is composed of both love and hate. At the end of the day you must decide if the love outweighed the hate. Some days the hate can be so heavy that you almost forget the love that is there deep down in your heart and soul. It is on those days that you give in to the feelings of bitterness, contempt, loathing, and anger and almost give up, throwing it all to the wind. But you carry on, because you hope the love will win out in the end. Sometimes you just have to step back outside of your situation and look upon it with new eyes, with new understanding and compassion for one another. This is what I have had to do. Love doesn’t come easy. Marriage, and any relationship for that matter, is a constant work in progress. Communication is the key to opening doors that sometimes get shut between you. I am not a good communicator, as I tend to keep too much of my true feelings and thoughts to myself. I am trying to change this aspect of my personality, but old habits die hard, and too many times I have continued to feed this monster of anger, doubt, depression, and loathing until it eats away at me, or explodes in a fit of fury. Often I feel like the darkness that dwells deep inside my heart and soul shouldn’t be let out into the light of the world, lest it reveal too much about who I am and what I feel.  I wasn’t always this stoic, and reserved. In my youth I would wear my emotions on my sleeve, expressing the love and the hate,  the anger and sadness. But people misunderstood, or perhaps understood too much. I hurt those around me and myself, often unintentionally, sometimes on purpose. So I built this armor around myself, gradually adding to it piece by piece until in enveloped me like a personal fortress. Few ever get inside, and even then, I don’t know if anyone has ever made me completely let my shield down since I have created it. My wife and my daughter have come the closest, as I let them in more than anyone else in my life.

Anyway. I really didn’t mean for this blog post to be such a downer. I don’t like unloading my problems or issues upon my friends. It’s just not my style. But I wanted to get this off my chest, and I’m really trying to learn how to talk about my feelings more. Maybe what’s bringing it out of me is this story I’m writing for Dreamers in Hell and the concepts that I am exploring within it: redemption, (or the lack thereof) self-centeredness, forgiveness, unconditional love, self-sacrifice, and self-realization. Also one of my characters is William James, famous philosopher, spiritualist and one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. Maybe he is pulling these feeling out of me, like I’m receiving psychotherapy from him through the method of trying to channel his mind and spirit to make the character more believable. I do tend to employ “method writing” by becoming a little like my characters when I’m writing a story.

And I don’t seem to express myself well unless I’m writing my thoughts out. That’s probably a big reason why my wife fell in love with me even though we were thousands of miles apart. We were communicating mostly by internet, sending emails and instant messages to each other before we had even met in person. I communicate better in the written form apparently. Plus, I wooed her with my poetry. What woman wouldn’t fall in love with a guy who wrote her love poems?

So in closing, let me just say that today I love my wife more than ever, and it took seeing her doing what she loves to reiterate just how special she is to me, and why we are meant to be together. We creative souls don’t always make for the easiest personalities to get along with one another, as the artistic tempermant lends itself to extremes. But like all great art, great relationships are founded on and cemented in powerful emotions, both of joy and sorrow, anger and happiness, love and hate. You just have to learn to balance them accordingly.

“It’s all the same — no good without evil, no balance…no maat. If we lose one, we lose the other. It’s just life, that’s all.” –Niko, from the story “Pillar of Fire” in “The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-Girl: Sacred Band Tales Vol. 2”  by Janet Morris & Chris Morris, (c) 2012, Perseid Publishing.

 

Radio Show Hosting and Going Rogue in Hell

“Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed In one self place, for where we are is hell, And where hell is there must we ever be.” 

-Christopher Marlowe

As always, it’s been too long since my last post. I have some new and exciting things to report this time around though.

 First of all, I have been made co-host of a live broadcast internet radio show called Pairanormal, on TMV Cafe, along with EW Bradfute, and Pamela Jones. We discuss all topics that pertain to the paranormal field: ESP, psychic abilities, ghosts, UFO’s, Cryptozoology. We even delve into stuff like urban legends, conspiracy theories, and zombies! No topic is safe from the Pairanormals! Tune in every Friday night at 9:00 PM Central Standard Time at www.tmvcafe.com. Log into the chatroom and become part of the action, interacting with us hosts and all the other listeners. And if you miss an episode, we archive every show on podcast, so you can catch it later. But I recommend tuning in live so you can have fun in the chatroom with us on Friday nights. See you there!

The second announcement is that the promo ad for the latest anthology in the shared world series, Heroes in Hell, is out and all over the world wide web! Yours truly has a story included in the book Rogues in Hell, called “Ragnarok and Roll” that will take you on a wild ride through Hell! A couple of familiar characters from Lawyers in Hell, Anton LaVey and Guy Fawkes team up with some new damned souls, namely The Red Baron, Erik the Red, Leif Eriksson and a band of other famous vikings on this latest infernal adventure. I am honored to share space in this anthology with some of the best damned writers in fiction. Special thanks as always to series creators and editors, Janet Morris and Chris Morris for making me a part of the crew of Hellion authors.  Coming out this July from Perseid Publishing!

The Life of a Rogue Writer

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” –Winston Churchill

I hope everyone is having a great 2012 so far. Mine has been pretty good except  I’m still unemployed and looking for a full-time day job to pay the bills. Besides looking for work, I have also been busy learning as much as I can about improving my writing craft, the publishing industry, reading for pleasure and research, and I’ve been writing a lot as well. I have also been networking  quite a bit, and I am scheduled to appear as a guest panelist at five literary fantasy/science fiction conventions this year, including ConDFW, AggieCon, All-Con, The Nightmare Machine 2012 and LibertyCon. I really enjoyed all the conventions I attended last year, and met so many great people; writers, artists, musicians, performers, editors, and fans. I am really looking forward to all these events this year and I hope to see you there. If you’ve never been to one of these events, you really should check them out. They are a lot of fun for fans of the fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres. You can meet your favorite authors, listen to live music, attend panels about a wide variety of subjects, see some cool costumes, buy books, shirts, costume apparel, and other fun stuff.

Speaking of fans, I am a big fan of this free online magazine, Lovecraft eZine  and this week they are having a contest giving away a Cthulhu sculpture and other prizes. I have read some great stories in this eZine and they are always posting news and links about everything to do with Lovecraft, Lovecraftian stories, Cthulhu Mythos, films, websites, etc. Go check it out and tell eZine creator/editor Mike Davis that I sent you.

I am very excited to announce that one of my stories, “Ragnarok & Roll” has been accepted for the forthcoming Heroes in Hell shared world anthology, Rogues in Hell, edited by series creators Janet Morris and Chris Morris. The book will be unleashed upon the world by Perseid Publishing sometime this Spring/Summer  2012 in print book and EBook formats. As before, when working on the previous volume in the series, Lawyers in Hell, it was a blast collaborating with my fellow Hellion authors on this book. I’ll wrap this post up with what the cover will look like.