I Do Believe It’s Time For Me To Fly

Our objective.

Sunday Morning, dark and early, my roommate and I will hit that old dusty trail.

It’ll be just like The Road To Bali, only with less Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and we’re not going to cross any oceans, and probably not as much singing.  And no Dorothy Lamour. The odds of finding sunken treasure seems fairly low as well. Okay, now that I think about it, it’s not going to be anything like The Road To Bali at all. Let’s say no more about it.

What it is going to be like is getting the heck out of town with some shreds of my sanity intact.  This whole summer work (the day job) has been an extra large portion of barking mad, lightly grilled and served on a toasted kaiser roll, slathered with crazy sauce and with a side order of blind gibbering chaos.  About mid-July the inmates decided that they were too rational to run the asylum and turned the job over the bedbugs.

Sea creatures in simulated ocean-like environment.

Sea creatures in simulated ocean-like environment.

We’re going to beautiful downtown Myrtle Beach, SC, home of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, which I am not going to visit because it would remind me too much of work.  Instead I am planning to spend a lot of time on the beach drinking and staring vaguely in the direction of Europe and being all literary and stuff.

I will of course be bringing my Magic Book Of Distant Seeing and several old fashioned paper-style notebooks, just in  case the Inspiration Toad finds me there. (Which it probably will, the filthy creature.)  However, the primary goal of the trip is to relax us both enough to stave off that Tri-State Killing Spree thing.

Butch&Flynt: Too Cute To Kill

Butch&Flynt: Too Cute To Kill

I am really looking forward to this trip. We have arranged for a sacrificial victim pet sitter to drop by and make sure that the evil cat creatures have enough to eat and drink.

In a week I shall return, and it is hoped that I will be refreshed and rejuvenated by the trip, although I’ll settle for marginally less grumpy.

 

 

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Possible Anthology To Raise Money For Guide Dogs – Update

MishaBurnett:

Anyone willing to help put together a charity anthology?

Originally posted on newauthoronline:

Many thanks to everyone who expressed support for the idea of producing an anthology to raise money for the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association (http://newauthoronline.com/2014/09/17/possible-anthology-to-raise-money-for-guide-dogs/). Thanks go especially to everyone who reblogged my post and to those who have offered to provide stories for inclusion, or other forms of assistance.

I have been asked about the theme of the anthology (a perfectly reasonable question if ever there was one)! I suggest that stories in the anthology deal with interactions between dogs and humans. However I don’t wish to preclude stories about other animals either as sole characters or as part of an animal/human relationship.

I don’t yet have an editor and would be grateful if any editor who is able to offer their services free could please get in touch. As previously explained, I lack editorial expertise and do not have the capacity to produce the final…

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Tsarina

TsarinaCoverPart of my process in my writing is working with mockup covers–it makes a project feel more real if I can look at a cover, even when I know it’s not the final cover. So I made this mockup for Tsarina. 

I am also working on the structure.  I had the idea last night of making it into four sections and calling the sections Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, and Telophase.  The biologically savvy among you will recognize those as the stages of cell division.

The overall arc of the story is going to be how Tsarina “coves to life” as a third party in the marriage of the main human characters. How overt this will be is still up in the air–I like the ambiguity of never showing Tsarina being animate.  I may leave things so that Carl and Ellen could be deluded and doing everything themselves.  Or Tsarina might actually become a real girl.  The magic in this one is going to be a sideline issue, the real story is about Carl and Ellen and their relationship.

It’s hard to explain, but it makes sense in my head.  But then a lot of things make sense in my head.  I would still like to get some feedback on the story so far, so if you’d like to take a look send me an e-mail via my Reach Out And Touch Me page.

What I have so far is what I consider euphemistic erotica–I describe the action of Carl having sex with the doll without using “bad words”. But it’s pretty explicit.

I also got back to Eisenstrasse for a while last night.  I introduced a new character and have gotten closer, I think, to figure out what the heck is really going on.  I still don’t have what you might call “a plot” but it’s kind of plot-like.

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To Avoid Complications, She Never Kept The Same Address

After thinking long and hard about how best to schedule my time, I have decided to concentrate on three projects, all novels.

First, of course, is the next Book Of Lost Doors novel, Gingerbread Wolves.  I am still excited by James & Catskinner’s world, and I do hope that I won’t make my fans wait any longer than the customary year before releasing the next one.  I have a good start on it, the first chapter and a half, and I have a pretty good idea where I am going, although I never seem to end up quite where I intend to go.

Next, Eisenstrasse. My co-author for that project has been away all summer, but she’s back now and ready to get working again.  I sat down and read what we have so far and I still think it’s good stuff, so tonight I sat down and wrote the next chunk.  For those who don’t recall, it’s a historical thriller about Cold War Era East Berlin, with a shifting POV.

Third, Tsarina.  That began as a short story for a Romantic Horror anthology, but once I started it kind of grew.  It’s a sort of Magical Realism Erotic Drama.  Carl and Ellen are a young married couple, very much in love.  When Ellen loses her interest in sex she buys a lifelike sex doll for her husband.  The doll, Tsarina, ends up becoming something more than just a toy.  I’m still not quite sure what I am doing with this, but I have a feeling that somewhere in there is a story that I really need to tell.

And that’s it! As much as I love starting new things, I have to stop doing that for a while.  Until I have one or more of these projects wrapped up I have declared a moratorium on taking on new projects.  This has meant that I’ve had to drop out of two different shared universe projects (one of which I started) but there are only so many hours in a day.

Now, back to work.

Posted in Artists That I Admire, Gingerbread Wolves, On Publishing, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Writing On The Right Side Of Your Brain

There is a justly famous art theory book called Drawing On The Right Side Of Your Brain by artist and educator Betty Edwards. While my art skills are not particularly impressive, I found this book fascinating and have managed to apply one of the central concepts to my writing.

Edwards speaks of the tendency, when drawing, to sketch out what you think, rather than what you see. One of the examples that she used was in drawing hair.  People know that hair is composed of individual strands and so that is what they draw.  However the visual experience of hair is that it can look like something very different, a fluid or a translucent solid or thick ropes.

Many of the book’s exercises involve learning to see things as if you don’t know what they are–discarding the conceptual symbol that our left brains want to put in place of the sensory experience of our right brains.  (Scott McCloud’s extraordinary Understanding Comics covers much of the same ground from a somewhat different perspective.)

Rather than drawing “hair”, Edwards encourages artists to look just at the line and color and texture of that thing that is in front of our eyes.  Let the viewer see through your eyes, she or he will decide that it’s hair.

That’s a technique that I try to bring to my writing.  As a shorthand for talking about my books I refer to a “battle scene” or a “love scene” or “that scene were everybody just sits around and talks some more”, but while I am writing I make a serious effort not to think that way.

Instead I ask myself, how would I describe a fight if I didn’t know what a fight was? What actually happens–who does what to whom, and how does it look, what does it sound like, how does it smell?  This is–I think–what people mean by “show, don’t tell.”

It’s very freeing, actually.  Instead of thinking, “what kind of scene happens next” and then feeling forced to pick from a handful of options I simply ask myself, “what would I see next?”  Maybe someone throws a punch, but that doesn’t mean that I am locked into x number of words of people fighting–sometimes the situation doesn’t escalate into a full fledged brawl.  Maybe my characters kiss, and then back away without taking off their clothes.

I think that the conceptual symbols in prose can be as limiting as the conceptual symbols in the graphic arts. That’s what people mean when they ask, “how do I write a fight scene?” or “how do I write a sex scene?”–they want a set of symbols to put into their book.  Instead, I try to concentrate on describing what the reader would experience if she or he was standing in my character’s shoes.

I’ll just tell you what happened.  You can decide what it was.

Posted in On Writing, Poetry, Who I am | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

If Dreams Are Like Movies Then Memories Are Films About Ghosts

You know that moment when you realize that you are in the middle of a project and have absolutely no idea what you are doing?

Well, maybe you don’t, but I do, and I’m there now.

See, I started working on a short story for an anthology with the theme of romantic horror.  That was an intriguing concept, and I always wanted to a creepy possessed doll story, because that’s one of my favorite horror sub-genres.  I figured, how about a creepy possessed sex doll?   And I wanted it to be a story about a couple, so I came up with this idea of a married couple and the wife has an vague medical problem so that she loses all interest in sex.  The couple has a solid relationship otherwise, and the wife doesn’t want to lose her husband and best friend, so she buys him this life-sized sex doll, and…

And this is where I am not entirely sure where I am going. Okay, to be honest, I have no idea whatsoever where I am going.  I’ve got some good atmosphere, I think, and a couple of awkward kind of erotic scenes with the man and the doll.  I don’t have an ending, really, or much of a middle, and I’m over 6,000 words in a story for an anthology where the range is 5,000-7,000 words.

In fact, I’m not sure if this is either romance or horror.  It’s just this thing that has moved into my computer like an enormous cuttlefish that has somehow become lodged on an escalator, blocking traffic and dripping gooey fish stuff so that everybody has to either take the stairs or go looking for the elevator.  Wow.  That simile was extra lame, wasn’t it?

In any event, I need to do something with it, either bring it to some kind of conclusion or let it die, and I’d like to get some feedback.  So if you want to read six thousand plus words of ambiguous magical realism relationship drama, kind of like Kramer vs Kramer vs The Bride Of Chucky, drop me a line via my rusty trust dusty Contact Me page, and I’ll send you what I have so far.  Specify your choice of formats, I use Open Office and usually send of files in either .rtf or .mobi, but I can do others.

Please, I really need some help here.

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Stories!

FCoverNewThumb

 

First, Fauxpocalypse is on sale–for the next three days it’s only 99 cents.  It’s a collection of short stories about what happens when the end of the world is predicted and then doesn’t happen.

I have a story (well, a story and a prologue) in it.  It was my idea originally, but a number of very talented writers found their own stories to tell in my world.

It’s a mixed bag of stories, some funny, some sad, but all, I think, thought-provoking.

 

sinsofthepastbookcoverNext, I have a story in the upcoming Sins Of The Past collection.  I’ve read through it, and it’s an interesting collection of horror stories set in various historical periods.

My own contribution is about a film director in the 1960’s, and it contains references to The Book Of Lost Doors.  You don’t have to be familiar with my novels to understand the story, but I think it’s going to be fun for fans of my novels to get another perspective on the Outsiders. I’ll add it to my books page once it comes out.

In addition I have a story that I hope to finish this weekend for submission to an upcoming romantic horror anthology, and a story to write for a story competition.

Time to get to work.

Posted in On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments