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

LibertyCon 25 2012 Convention After Action Report

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.”

-Jamie Paolinetti

Well I’m finally getting around to posting my report about LibertyCon 25 which took place the weekend of July 20-22, 2012 at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel. I also upload photos on my facebook page and in some of the relvant groups I am a member of like The Irredeemable Order of Hellions and The Fictioneers. I had a great time hanging out with fellow Hellion authors  Janet Morris, Chris Morris, Michael H. Hanson, Jack Finley, Sarah Hulcy, David Burkhead, Michael Z. Williamson, Richard Groller, and Julie Cochrane.

Kudos as always to Janet Morris and Chris Morris for creating the Heroes in Hell series without which none of this fun would have taken place. Thanks for making me a part of this fantastic series that I’ve been a fan of for over 25 years. Also a big thanks to Richard Groller for bringing so many of us authors together by having us as guests at LibertyCon. Thanks also to Uncle Timmy who created and runs LibertyCon for having us again. It has become our annual meeting of the Hellions and I hope will continue to be so for many years to come.

This year we decided to hold a party for both The Fictioneers writers club and the Irredeemable Order of Hellions fan club for the Heroes in Hell series and Perseid Publishing.  It was also our book launch party for the newest anthology in the Heroes in hell series, Rogues in Hell.  I think the party was a success and I made many new friends and gained new fans for the HiH series and the upcoming book Sha’Daa Pawns created by Michael Hanson and edited by Edward McKeown. Michael also had a bunch of cupcakes made for the party with icing that looked like alien heads for the Fictioneers and flames for the Hellions. They were awesome sugary goodness and a real hit. Thanks to everyone who came out and partied with us. It was a hell of a good time! To join the Hellions online on Facebook for fun and interaction with Hellion authors and fans just click on the link above or right here.

Several of us Hellion authors also took turns staffing the Perseid Publishing table to sell and sign books. It was a great experience and loads of fun. There is something really satisfying about sitting behind a table stacked with books some of which have your stories published inside them like Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell.  Also on this table were books from another of my favorite series, by Janet Morris and Chris Morris; The Sacred Band, Tempus With His Right-Side Companion Niko, Beyond Sanctuary, and The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-Girl. Also Michael Hanson had copies of Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, Sha’Daa: Last Call, and his poetry collections Jubilant Whispers and Autumn Blush.

I got to be on some great discussion panels, like the Rogues in Hell panel where the attending Hellion authors got to talk about our new book. Also the What Scares the Boogeyman panel where we got to talk about the soon to be published horror anthology that John Manning is putting together which will feature my story “Shadow of a Doubt.” We also had a cool piece of artwork drawn just for the panel by Michael Bielaczyc that was outstanding. And thanks to author Larry Niven for attending our panel  and contributing his thoughts on the horror genre. And then there were the paranormal panels I got to be on with Joe McKeel and Paul Cagle about EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), Ghost Busting, and Joe’s Remote Viewing panel that he let me sit in on.

All in all it was a fun, busy, and exhausting weekend and as I always seem to do at conventions I made a lot of new friends. And it was a blast seeing my old friends as well, many whom I only see in person once a year, even if we talk online a lot. I really can’t wait for LibertyCon again next year. I hope you will join me for a hell of a good time.

Special Guest Tonight on TMV Cafe Internet Radio

“I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.”
Oscar Wilde

I will be a guest on the TMV Cafe internet radio show Free Pie Night, tonight, at 9:00 PM Central Standard Time. There is also a chatroom on the website where you can interact with the fans, guests and hosts of the show. Go to www.tmvcafe.com to join the fun.  I will be talking about how I got my big break of being a published author, and about my experiences writing for the shared world anthology series Heroes in Hell, created and edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. My story “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” was published in the book Lawyers in Hell, in 2011. I have a story, “Ragnarok & Roll”  in the latest book, Rogues in Hell, which will be published this Summer in 2012.

Also I will try to mention some of the other anthologies I have been writing for which will be published in the next few months, like Sha’Daa Pawns, created by Michael H. Hanson, and What Scares the Boogeyman, a horror anthology created by John Manning. I also have a poem called “The Shadow People”,  that will be published in the collection A Book of Night, created by Richard Groller, which will be my first poem to be published in a book. I had a couple of poems that were printed in a collection of art and poetry contributed by students, that Grapevine High School created during my senior year, but this will be the first time my poetry is released by a real publisher.

I have been busy working a lot of overtime hours at my day job, trying to pay the bills, so I haven’t had much time or energy for writing lately unfortunately. Some of my works in progress though include a fantasy novel, a fantasy adventure short story, and a story for the next book in the Sha’Daa series. I am also working on ideas and an outline for a story to submit for the next Heroes in Hell book, tentatively titled, Dreamers in Hell. My goal is to have a story included in all of the new books in the series, so I am hoping this one will get the stamp of approval from Janet and Chris. I am thinking this will be a much more  introspective sort of story than my last two. I’m bringing in a new main character, noted psychologist and spiritualist, William James, who is going to psychoanalyze Anton LaVey for his post-life identity crisis of finding himself in a hell he never believed existed, serving a fallen angel that he denied even being real. Guy Fawkes will also return again from my first two stories, and try to blow things up as always, including possibly the pearly gates of Heaven itself.  It will be a fun story to write, and I hope, to read also.

I’m behind on my blogging about the various conventions I’ve attended as a guest  in the last couple of months, so you can expect my report on ConDFW, All-Con, and The Nightmare Machine, at some point when I get around to writing those. They were all loads of fun and I met so many awesome people, as I always seem to do at cons. I really enjoyed being on the discussion panels and doing the story readings and it was an honor to be part of those events.

That’s about all that’s going on for now. I hope you will all tune in tonight to listen to me on the radio show. Also the show that airs before it at 8:00 PM CST, After Rot, is hosted by a friend of mine, who goes by the name Zombie Zak. He and his co-host Jazzy talk about all things to do with comics, movies, superheroes,  zombies and all kinds of other random stuff. It’s always a fun show, you should check it out.