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…

 

 

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The Short Pale Writer Appearing at ConDFW This Weekend

“It may be that those who do most, dream most.” – Stephen Leacock

I will be attending ConDFW in Dallas, Texas this weekend. I am scheduled for five discussion panels, a reading, and a book signing session over the course of Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be hanging out with friends and fellow authors Friday, and attending the opening ceremonies, and some panels. Come out and join me for a fun and informative weekend. Below is my schedule, but be sure to check out the ConDFW website for all the panels and events going on all weekend.

SATURDAY

Panel Room 3 – Canterbury-1pm –Horror without Focus: Writing the Apocalypse in Horror

 Panelists: C. Dean Andersson, Larry Atchley Jr., Gabrielle Faust (M), K. Hutson, Dusty Rainbolt, Brad Sinor

It is moderately easy to create a horror story where you have an obvious villain. But in this year of disaster and

apocalypse, we see the other side of Horror – where the villain is nature itself, whether by fire, flood or plague.

Our panelists discuss the Apocalyptic Horror genre and its future in a time where the future is never certain.

Panel Room 2 – Manchester-4pm –Horror vs. Urban Fantasy: Where is the Line?

 Panelists: C. Dean Andersson, A. Lee Martinez (M), Larry Atchley Jr., Stina Leicht, Gabrielle Faust, Sue Sinor

Sometimes it is difficult to find what section a particular Urban Fantasy book belongs to. It is sometimes found in

the Science Fiction/Fantasy section, but sometimes it is found in the Horror section. And to be honest, some

Horror has been Urban Fantasy before the genre really came about, like Anne Rice’s vampire series. But what

is the line between the darkness of Horror and the lightness of SF/Fantasy? Our panelists debate this dark topic

and perhaps find out what Urban Fantasy really is.

Panel Room 1 – Warwick-5pm –Ragnarok and You: Using Norse Mythology

 Panelist: Frances May (M), K.B. Bogen, Katharine Kimbriel, Ren Hobt, Larry Atchley Jr.

No discussion on the upcoming apocalypse would be complete without covering Norse mythology and

Ragnarok. What you may not know is that Ragnarok does not mean destruction at all, but means “the final

destiny of the gods”. Learn more about the classics from our experts on myth and legend, and try to forget about

comic book movies based on the same topic.

Readings: 6 pm – Shanna Swendson, Larry Atchley Jr., Ethan Nahte

SUNDAY

Panel Room 2 – Manchester-12pm –Body Language: Writing Martial Arts

 Panelists: K. Hutson (M), Larry Atchley Jr., A.P. Stephens, Stina Leicht

Sure, it’s easy to describe a punch to the stomach, and a sweep to the legs. But is it anatomically possible?

And what are some moves that are legit to use? We bring some martial artists to the table and let’s see if we

can describe what they do – without a video camera.

Signings: 1 pm – Larry Atchley Jr., Anthony Brownrigg

Panel Room 1 – Warwick-2pm –Apocalypse Later? What will be Our Doom?

 Panelists: Cherie Priest, Larry Atchley Jr., Linda Donahue (M), Selina Rosen, Gloria Oliver

With all the talk of Apocalypse this year (and the past few days), one thing hasn’t been covered. What do our panelists think WILL destroy the world? Let conspiracies abound, and if the government is watching I was never here.

Also, I’m a bit behind on blogging about the last couple of conventions I’ve attended, so I’ll cover some highlights of the most recent events.

The Difference Engine was a Steampunk themed convention held New Years  Eve weekend, complete with a fancy dress ball. Musical acts for the ball included Darwin Prophet & The Chronus Mirror which upon hearing them for the first time instantly became one of my new favorite bands.

Also there was Donna the Bard, who brought many instruments with her and let audience members join her in playing some traditional folk music. Thanks Donna, for making it an interactive show, I had a lot of fun! Also performing that weekend was tribal Heidi Wunder with violinist Jennifer Sanders providing musical backing for the show. Both were excellent entertainers, and a pleasure to meet. Action, comedy performing was provided by Cut, Thrust, and Run who are always a blast to watch with their swordplay, quarterstaff whirling, and jokes. Lest I forget, the Master of Ceremonies  for the con was Peter Pixie, who was  fun and energetic to be around.

I had a good time attending the promotions table for the Irredeemable Order of Hellions selling copies of Lawyers in Hell, and Forrest Hedrick and John Manning’s  horror novel Black Stump Ridge. I met a lot of great people that weekend. The guys from geek culture website Nerdvana Inc. stopped by, and they included John and I in their write-up about the convention on their website. So our fame is spreading ! Ha ha!

Last weekend I attended the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo strictly as a patron and not as a guest. As I always seem to do at any event I go to, I met some great people and made some new friends. Particulatly artist Kathryn Crenshaw who correctly identified my costume of radio show and pulp classic character, The Shadow.  She said that her dad raised her on the old pulp classic books and comics, and that’s how she recognized my obscure outfit. She also told me that he had a vendor table at the convention, and that I should go talk to him because we probably had a lot of interests in common. It turns out that we did, and he also had the two Thieves’ World graphic novels that I had been looking for to complete my collection. He also had a lot of really great Robert E. Howard books, and much more stuff from the classic age of fantasy and science fiction. There were also dozens of tables full of collectable toys, action figures, shirts, patches, costumes, and anything else you can imagine to do with Sci-Fi/Fantasy fandom.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for the blog this time. I hope you will come see me, and all the other guests at ConDFW this weekend. I know it will be a lot of fun.