Monthly Archives: August 2011

Who has time to read?

I admit it.  I’m a very slow reader.  Very slow.

It’s not that I don’t like reading.  I read all the time, but I tend to read short stories and non-fiction books (which you can skip around in a bit).  I do read novels, but not that many in a year.  At one time, I was churning through massive tomes like Dune, Shogun, Stranger in a Strange Land and Clan of the Cave Bear, and was also digesting classics like The Razor’s Edge, Siddartha, Demian, The Stranger and a host of others.  I devoured everything by Robert A. Heinlein and Phyllis A. Whitney that I could get my hands on (a bizarre combination, I know, but I loved both of those authors).

But at some point I lost my ability to focus.  Maybe I need Ritalin TM.

I blame working for corporations for years, which demand that you juggle ten things at once.  I’ve learned to juggle, but I’m not really that good at it.  And the result is that I often don’t finish all of the myriad projects I start.

I do finish things I’m writing, though I tend to have several projects going at once, and hop back and forth between them.  But reading — unless it’s research for something I’m writing — tends to fall by the wayside.

But a writer must also be a reader.  I think it’s a law.  And if it isn’t, it probably should be.  I’ve run across far too many stories that read as though the author learned to write by watching movies.  As much as I love movies, the sad fact is, most of them are badly written.  Cliche’s abound, and the primary focus tends to be on looking cool for the camera.  Even good films are by necessity condensed.  (Yes, even Peter Jackson films are condensed.  Can anyone say, “Tom Bombadil?”)

If you want to write novels, you have to read novels.  It’s the only way to see how fiction styles are changing.  (And yes, they have definitely changed over the decades since I was a teenager.  Back then, romance novels were commonly in first person.  Now, limited third person is all the rage, with the author hopping back and forth between the two romantic leads.)  It’s also important to vary what you read, in my opinion.  It would be very easy for me to read nothing but M/M erotic romances, since that’s the genre I tend to write for.  And that would, perhaps, help me learn how to better please that audience.  But I really feel that it’s important to read a variety of types of fiction, in order to improve my overall writing ability.

So I do read.  But not nearly as much as many of my fellow authors at Dreamspinner do.  I envy people who can read a novel a day, or even one a week.  If I’m really engaged by a novel, so I can’t put it down, and keep picking it up on every break I have at work, then I’ll get through it in a week or two.  But more often, it will take a couple to a few weeks, with a strong possibility that I may put the book down and lose interest, when I pick something else up.

Ah, well.  It would be nice if I could learn to focus better, but at least I am reading.  Currently, I’m deeply engrossed in very nicely done novel (which I won’t name, in case I don’t finish it, but which I will review, if I do).  So far, it’s gripped me more than any other novel I’ve picked up in the past few months, so I think I’ll be able to get through it.  If not, it’s certainly no reflection on the author.

Blame it on ADHD.  I hear that’s fashionable.

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Filed under Drama, Romance, Writing

Revisiting werewolves

When I was a teenager, and then later in college, I had a huge thing for werewolves and vampires.

Unfortunately, two things happened.  The first was that Anne Rice came out with Interview With A Vampire and its sequels.  They were good books — especially, The Vampire Lestat — and for a while I was as excited about the vampire revival they spawned as anyone.  But practically overnight, the majority of vampires in literature and movies turned into Lestat and Luis clones, haunted and “sexy” and brooding and going on at tedious length about how their curse means they can never find happiness.  Ugh.

The second thing was that the gaming company, White Wolf, came out with both Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: Apocalypse.  Again, though I enjoyed both games, the first compounded the tortured vampire fad and expanded upon the underground vampire clan idea that Anne Rice had used in her novels.  (I don’t know that she originated it, but I’m not sure who did.)

The latter game expanded on the idea of clans that White Wolf is so fond of and somewhere the idea of a war between vampires and werewolves was introduced — don’t ask me where.  Although Apocalypse never achieved the popularity that Masquerade did, it had an enormous impact on werewolf fiction, to the point where publishers started saying in their submission guidelines, “Please don’t write up your latest RPG adventure and submit it to us as a short story.”

Then the film series Underworld came out, spawning an intellectual property lawsuit by Whitewolf and even more stories of tormented vampires battling werewolf clans, and the inevitable Romeo and Juliet (or Romeo and Julio) takeoffs that came with these motifs.

I’m not saying that, in the hands of a good writer, these themes can’t be done in interesting ways and make for excellent reading, so if you’re writing stories along these lines, more power to you!  But I miss the days when vampires were truly undead monsters and werewolves were solitary.  I miss the days when these tales were frightening.  (Don’t even get me started about how Hollywood has turned horror films  into boring parodies of themselves).

Anyway, I’ve avoided vampires and werewolves in my stories for years, because of all this.  But recently I’ve decided to dig up a couple old short stories that never found publishers (not that I tried very hard) and a short screenplay that was never filmed.  I’m turning the screenplay into a short story, and since the other two short stories feature a common central character, I’m thinking of adding a third story to those and making a triptych.  I’m not sure what to do with the short story that will come out of the screenplay.  Its characters have nothing to do with the other two stories.  I could put them all together in a collection, of course, but I think I’d still need at least one more story.  If I had two stories about two characters, then a third with different characters, people would be baffled, wondering if it was going to tie in somehow.

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Filed under Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Victorian, Writing

“Finding Love Through Bigfoot” is finished and available for free download!

I had initially planned on this story being submitted for an October anthology that Dreamspinner is putting out, but one of the requirements for that was that the story be no more than 2,000 words (within a small margin).  By the time I hit 3,000 words, with no wrap-up in sight, I knew I didn’t stand a chance of editing the finished story down to 2,000 words.  But I was having fun with it, so I decided to finish it up and release it as a freebie.

Since I’d been reading H.P. Lovecraft stories when I began the project, the initial tone was a bit Lovecraftian — 3rd-party narration, with the narrator rather distantly removed from the characters, and very little dialog.  But I couldn’t really sustain that for the entire story.  Humor started creeping in around the edges.  The “monster,” which initially was something dark and half seen in the forest, began to appear more and more like Bigfoot.  In the end, the story turned out to be rather tongue-in-cheek, if not quite a comedy.  But I’m happy with it.

It’s currently available for FREE DOWNLOAD (Did I make those words big enough?) at Lou Sylvre’s blog, since she was kind enough to let me guest blog there for a few days.  You can get to the link by clicking the image below.

Finding Love Through Bigfoot

Finding Love Through Bigfoot

The story was posted in a bit of a hurry, without the benefit of editors or even just friends looking it over, so I’ve already noticed a few typos.  When I’ve got a little more time, perhaps I’ll repost it with corrections.

SYNOPSIS:

Stuart moved to the country, looking for a little calm and stability in his life.  But that calm is upset, when a large, man-like creature begins showing up in his yard at night.  Soon, Stuart finds himself running for his life through the New Hampshire forests, and the only person who can save him is an enigmatic ranger named, Jake.  But Jake isn’t just out there on patrol — he’s been tracking the creature.  And he won’t rest until he finds it.

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Filed under Fantasy, Humor, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing

Stretching myself thin

Lately, it feels as if I’m working on a million different projects.  Combine that with a particularly stressful week at work when one of my fellow techs was on vacation, parents visiting (meaning a fast and furious house cleaning), and Erich being sick for the past week with a mysterious vertigo (that two doctors have assured us isn’t a stroke or heart-related), and I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed. I purchased a brand new vacuum – it did a pretty amazing job with the blots from last weekends partying.

And the best of it is that it can clean by itself only if you program it, so is the best vacuum I ever had.

First of all, let me mention that Lou Sylvre was kind enough to invite me to be a guest blogger this week at sylvre.com.  I really appreciate the opportunity to put myself out there a bit more, so if you’re interested in my adventures adapting a screenplay I’ve written into prose format, please hop on over!

The screenplay I’m adapting is as yet unnamed.  The original was called At the Edge of the Forest, which is yet another example of how bad I am at titles (I really need to work on that).  Despite the mediocre title, I’m fond of the screenplay, but it’s proven difficult to film.  So after three years, I’ve called it quits on that film project and I’m going to write it as a short story and put it out there for people to read.

I have two other werewolf short stories, featuring a character named Devon, that were originally submitted, independently, to horror anthologies.  They weren’t accepted, so I’m stringing them together, reworking them a bit, and then adding a third part to make a triptych of stories about Devon and the character, Ronnie, that he meets in the second story.  The original two stories weren’t more than 6,000 words, so the whole may not be more than a short novella.

My publisher has put out a call for very short (under 2,000 words) fiction for an October collection, and I’ve had an idea kicking around in my head for a story about a man who encounters Sasquatch in the northern NH forests that I think would be perfect.  I’ve written two-thirds of it, but I’m in a race to see if I can finish before they get the 31 stories they’re asking for.

I also need to reassemble my film editing workstation, so I can finish up our last two shorts, Sunny Cafe and Blue Collar Crime.  Currently, everything is stacked in one corner of the basement, since we had to rip up the carpet and put tile down.  And I’m still trying to sort out our epic film project, The Resurrection.

And I promised my brother I’d finish his film score by September.

Lastly, my friend, Xebic, has come up with an idea for a short film he’d like to do this summer, and he’s asked me to write it and film it.  It’s a bit of a tall order, but I like the basic idea, and I’ve already been able to write about ten minutes worth of a screenplay.  If the story stays under a half hour, it might be doable in a couple weekends before winter sets in.

My occult murder mystery has come to another halt at 50,000 words.  It’s not that I don’t know where it’s going next (at least, for the next few scenes).  I just got sick to death of it.  I’ll probably go back to it in a couple months and love it again — that’s just how I am with long works.  But for now, I’m putting it aside.

Now…inhale slowly…hold it…then exhale, while counting down….

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Film Writing, Mystery, Occult/Paranormal, Romance