Friday, November 12, 2010

A Million Grammar Books

Almost everyone's saying I need this grammar and syntax book and that grammar and syntax book. Hell, my librarian (great people that they are, by the way) gives me free ones. That's fine, she's only given me a couple. To be honest, I haven't even cracked them yet. Well, that's not quite right, I've cracked them, but I haven't read them front to back. I also study Warriner's Grammar and Composition, The Elements of Style, the grammar and syntax section at the back of my dictionary, the Associated Press Stylebook, and what I saved from the grammar workshops from the Muse Online Writer's Conference this year.

My question is, when does it end? Other writers are constantly saying I need to buy a certain grammar book. Hell, Warriner's gives a list of like, oh, I don't know, twenty?

If I buy every grammar boom on the planet and read them, I'll never read regular books and learn from the greats. I'll never give other new authors a chance, reading and reviewing their books for the mag I work for. Hell, I won't even have time to piss and shit!

I say get a couple, maybe a few, maybe five or six, but enough with the endless grammar books already!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dead Dreams

Once again, I found myself this week in the dreaded dentist's chair, the Hell-on-earth that keeps inching closer, closer, with each passing day. What did I do to deserve this Hades? Well, nothing, I'm just taking good care of my teeth and getting them cleaned. But still, this sucks! They want to clean them every three months now! And over twenty X-rays? Screw that!

Then I got to thinking about the girl who cleaned my teeth. I'm sure when she was growing up, she didn't want to be scraping molars for a living. No, she wanted to be an actress, or a singer, or a ballerina. I know when I grew up, I wanted to be a professional baseball player . . . until I found out I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. I wound up a basketball star in grade school. We won a couple of championships, I won best defensive player, I toasted the camera with a burger instead of a drink and we had some laughs. That all ended in jr. high though, when I didn't make the team. When I turned twelve, I became a metalhead and wanted to be a heavy metal star, so, when I grew up, I worked dead-end jobs for twenty-one years while trying to put together a band. Most of them weren't serious. I finally found a group of guys who had their shit together, but I played too fucking fast for heavy metal, and I was too wicked for a Cornerstone band. I ended up finding out I was meant to play death metal when I was pushing thirty, and no one wanted to put together a band with someone that old. All those bands I listen to put out their first album when they were eighteen.

So, I figured, instead of complaining about being all bloody-mouthed, the least I could do was be nice and give her a smile, even though I don't like to grin. I may be crazy, but I thought it was the right thing to do.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Shredding

I'm going to revert to music again for this blog. Something happened during my last practice this week that I must share. For all of you who need a regular blog fix about writing, my new Web site is up, and it's ten times better than the last. Go here: http://arbraun.com.

I'm always a bit rusty when I get back to the guitar. After taking Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off to do payback critiques, read agent blogs and clean the apartment (yes, the work never stops around here), I have to fight through practice Monday, and, sometimes Tuesday. By Wednesday I'm usually sounding pretty righteous. By Thursday I'm shredding, just all over the thing.

But it was never like this.

I always warm up with simple heavy metal tunes, either something I wrote or a cover, usually "Bad Boy Boogie" by AC/DC. I get sick of warming up, but, if one doesn't, one can get arthritis. Somehow, Thursday night, the regular warm-up wouldn't do. I guess you could say I had a musical epiphany.

We musicians have all had them, those nights where we just killed. But this. . . .

The only way I can describe it is that my talent possessed me. It dove right in, and I was on autopilot, glad to give it the wheel. I played one-handed lead guitar--no big surprise, I do that a lot--but this was . . . symphonic. By the time I got to my death metal set, it seemed too easy. I had to jazz it up. I'd been looking for the proper segue for my newest song, and boy did I get it. My head was moving back and forth like Jimi Hendrix on acid. I haven't heard anything like this since Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force. I know this sounds cliche, but it was spiritual.

I wonder if it's because I haven't been listening to bands that much lately. I mean, I do, needing to get my fix, but not as much as usual. I don't want to rip other bands off, even subconsciously, when writing songs.

I hope this happens more often.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Super Monster Friends

"Sir," the serial killer made up as a clown said as he strained his eyes looking into the monitor.

Dracula, the handsome vampire, turned his airbrushed, Maybelline-covered face his way. "Yes, Jack?"

"We have an unidentifyable monster heading toward the castle."

Dracula snapped his head Zombie's way. "What are the coordinates?"

"He's fifteen kilometers from the castle, master," Zombie gurgled.

"What?"

Ghost flew in. "He said fifteen kilometers, sir," he whispered.

Dracula frowned. "What say?"

"FIFTEEN KILOMETERS!" Jack cried.

"Oh. okay. What are his dimensions?"

Jack fixed his squinty eyes back on the live feed on the screen. "He seems to be . . . an . . . original monster, sir."

Dracula shook his head. "Bleh. Well. Ahem."

Zombie asked, "Should we destroy him?"

"Of course. He's one of those first-timers, probably thought up by that pesky A. R. Braunschweiger character."

"Drat! I'm so sick of that guy! Why doesn't he sell out like the rest of the authors who've been rehasing us?"

The Super Monster Friends screamed as missles hit the castle, setting them on fire and burning them into oblivion.

"Reload more missles," A. R. Braun spoke in his microphone to his original monster's headset. "There are always more rehashed monsters popping up everyday."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A. R.'s Interview with Shells Walter



I met Shells Walter when I reviewed her novel, Dead Practices, for Niteblade magazine and then added her on Facebook. She started writing at eleven, poetry at first. Shy by nature, Shells put together her poetry as a diary, mostly dark poems. She frightened her school, who thought she was a threat, a mark of every great horror author! She forged on with her writing after reading her first story by Edgar Allen Poe at the same age.

Fascinated with horror, it became an addiction. Later, she got into writing science fiction and other genres.

Now she writes stories, flashes, micros, screenplays, plays, novels and novellas. She also freelances for a living.

Her interest in learning more about Jack the Ripper has found her in many a site and adventure.

Shells has a few novellas coming soon, and she doesn't plan on ever slowing down.

A.R.: Hi Shells. Thanks for being my guest. I know you’ve just released Dead Practices, a humorous zombie novel. I love humor in horror, by the way. Can you tell those that haven’t perused it a little about the book?

S. W.: Thank you for having me. I could not agree more. I love the scary things in horror, things that challenge me, but I do love the humor in horror as well. A sarcastic character will grab my attention every time.

Dead Practices is about a lawyer, not just any lawyer but a zombie lawyer or more a 'Zombie Citizen.' His name is Jerrod. Jerrod falls apart at times, rides a Harley and does lawyerly things, like taking on clients and defending them; however, one of his clients breaks free from jail with a horde of zombies that he converts back to the attack and eat types. What happens next is an adventure that involves the President, Jerrod and his cop friend Rusty who also is a Zombie Citizen and a lot of super-glue which, that part, I won't give away (laughs).

It is available on sonar4publications.com as an e-book and print, on Amazon as Kindle and print and also several online retailers.

A. R.: Is this your first novel, and are there plans for more books? Where are you going as far as content?

S. W.: This is my first zombie book. I wrote this as a standalone book, however, I do love the Jerrod character and did leave it open for more books pertaining to him. Content wise there normally is some sarcasm in any book I do. It just seems to float into it. I do write some gory things, bizarre things at times too, and those may or may not include humor. As for things not pertaining to Jerrod, I have some ideas in the works. One I am currently working on is based on a short story of mine called Tooth Decay involving vampires and zombies competing for humans. It is a novella collaboration involving three novellas, one human side, one vampire and one zombie side with Matt Nord and Jessica Weiss coming from Wicked East Press sometime in the future.

A. R.: What books/short stories/authors influenced you, and why?

S. W.: There are several horror authors that have influenced me, at times really too many to list. As for books, many, but I think Catcher in the Rye was one of the most influential. It depicts a person dealing with society in a way that is all their own. Edgar Allan Poe and Lovecraft have influenced me in ways that help me get past my shyness when I was young and troubles that had been ahead. They have also given me the desire to go beyond the scope or wall that has horror writers saying this can't work or it should not be in horror and write, jumping through that wall or stereotypes.

A. R.: What are your favorite horror movies, and what do you think about the state of the macabre flick today?

S. W.: My favorite series are the Hellraiser films, the Evil Dead trilogy, Hostel I & II, zombie flicks and the Saw films. I also love the classic films as well and with those there are way too many to count. What I want to see with any horror movies today is something new. I'm growing tired of the remakes of certain films. I would love to see more new screenplays instead of adapting from books all the time. I think with horror there are so much people can do with it and they are focused on redoing something that worked a long time ago and might not today.

A.R.: Great answer! I love Evil Dead 1 & 2 and both Hostel films. What are your thoughts on Print on Demand and e-books taking over?

S. W.: I don't mind e-books, though I'm a print type of gal. As for Print on Demand, I see nothing wrong with it, especially in regards to small publishers, independent publishers who don't have the money for costs in printing and possibly distribution. It allows authors to get their work out there in ways that weren't accessible a long time ago.

E-books are the future in so many cases. With little devices coming and going, it allows people to read on the go wherever they are. I am hoping they don't take over totally. I still love having a book in my hand where I can turn the page myself and feel it in my fingertips.

A.R.: How many hours a day do you write? What education did you acquire for this work?

S. W.: I don't believe in setting a certain amount of time a day to write. For me it is when the moment strikes. If I try to force it out at times it will be the worst writing I have ever done. I know this works for some people to have a schedule, with me it really depends. For freelance work of course I will focus on a schedule and if I have a deadline creatively, I will as well, but for me it has to do with a feeling, an urge to write.

Education wise I have taken creative writing classes and I have a B.A. in a different area of study that has helped my writing immensely. I just lived in society and for most that is tons of education not acquired in schooling.

A. R.: Did you go the agent route, sign with a publisher or self-publish?

S. W.: When Dead Practices came out I was with a publisher. I don't currently have an agent but am looking for one and we will see how that goes.

A. R.: Are you a crafter (must get paid for your stories) or are you an artist (does it for the love of the genre)?

S. W.: I believe I am both. I think it depends on the content, theme, or publishing venture I am looking at. I love the genre no matter what and do have some of my work in the 'for the love markets.' For me I look at several factors and where my writing may fit the best at.

A. R.: Will you ever podcast your stories or write a graphic novel?

S. W: That is something I am thinking about in the future to podcast my stories. The market seems to be pretty new yet and it is an avenue where people can download stuff at their leisure and I really love the old type radio atmosphere that can come with podcasts. As for a graphic novel, someday I hope to get one of my stories there. I do love to write comic scripts, I am an artist, but feel there are better artists out there and if someone wanted to work with me on the graphic novel adaptation of one of my stories I would love it.

A. R.: What do you envision for the future of horror?

S. W.: Zombies. Zombies are making a huge impact on the world of horror these days and mainstream is picking up on it. The only hope is that they don't wear it down and suddenly zombies are not as grand for horror as they used to be. I also see a trend forming with bringing back classic monsters. I'm just afraid that being Hollywood and mainstream publishing as it, it will forget what horror was meant to be, being scared, having fun at it and wanting to have that happen again.

A. R.: What is your Web site address and blog addie so we can check out your work?

S. W.: People can find more about me on my website which includes a blog at www.shellswalter.com. I am also on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A. R.'s Interview with Sammi Cox


I met Sammi on Facebook, of all places, and have found her to be a good writing buddy, 10/4. She's also the editor of the House of Horror e-zine and a horror author in her own right. Sammi lives in the U.K. with her two children. She's dating artist Darren James, whom she's also buildig a career with. Also known as S. E., she gave up writing for a while to focus on a singing career and also worked part time in cabaret. Awesome! Her stories have been published in Pandora's Imagination, Pill Hill Press, Elements of Horror anthology, Flashes in the Dark and more. She's also the author of many novels. Everyone welcome Sammi!

A.R.: Hi Sammi. Thanks for being my guest. I know you’re the editor of House of Horror. What is an ideal submission, in your opinion, and have you ever received one?

S. C.: Hi A.R. and thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview. I don't think of a submission as ideal, because being a horror e-zine, the word "horror" is open to a wide range of different types of stories. I know I have my favorites and I have read some excellent stories that sometimes make me feel honored to have them in House of Horror because in my opinion they are most definitely pro-rate stories and of course I tell them that. So I guess as long as a submission follows the guidelines and I really enjoy it and think my readers will enjoy it then it’s a winner for me.


A. R.: Tell us a little about the books you have coming out, and where you're going as far as content.

S. C.: Wow, well right now we have a lot going on which is making me have to put certain things on hiatus until I am all caught up. We have just released Stitched Up and also A Pint of Bloody Fiction. Those are on sale right now from the House of Horror Bookshop for £9.99 and £6.99 which are both inclusive of shipping. I am at the minute working on The Duel Anthology. This is a book made up of all the stories that were used in The Writers Duel that was held in The Dungeon for the Last three months. The book is split up into rounds and shows the duelers and their real names, the winner and of course the battling stories. This is now available for pre-order at £10.99 from House of Horror and will be widely available everywhere else in around two weeks time. Also I am beginning to put together the HOH Best of 2010. I am choosing stories from issue #8 onward to appear in the anthology and will soon be notifying the writers, artists and photographers etc. Unfortunately, unlike last year, there is no monetary payment for this antho’ but for every book they themselves buy or every book bought quoting a contributors name, said contributor will receive $5 every time. So I guess in a way, the better HOH does, the better the author does. I am hoping that this will be a big incentive for the writers and that everyone wins in the long run.


A. R.: What books/short stories/authors influenced you, and why?

S. C.: You know what, I don't really let other stories/authors etc. influence me as I end up writing just like they do or doing stories based on that. I hate it when I hear other people doing that because to me, it isn't very original. It is so hard to be original these days and trying to be like someone else just makes it even harder. Of course I have certain writers that I read over and over—Christopher Pike, Stephen King and just recently Linwood Barclay. Barclay’s ability to set up a scene and then take you on a 400 page ride of chills and thrills is remarkable. You have no idea where you're going in his books and I like that about it. It keeps me reading. I read his 420 book, Too Close to Home, in three days—I just couldn't put it down.



A. R.: What are your favorite horror movies, and what do you think about the state of the macabre flick today?

S. C.: I think my favorite horror movies would have to be classics like Psycho, The Birds, Carrie, and some of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I do enjoy present day horror films but for some reason they are becoming more and more predictable. And with all the special effects and money budget movie makers have these days, it leaves nothing to the imagination. I think in the case of the old classics, sometimes what you didn't see frightened you more because they left it open for the watcher to imagine and think about long after the film had finished. These days it’s just thrust into your face and once you have seen it, it’s gone - nothing to really think about. Of course, I am not bashing all present day horror flicks because I have still enjoyed quite a few and will continue to catch as many of them as I can when they come out. This week, Darren is taking me to see The Last Exorcism. I just hope that it lives up to all the hype. I think over done hype can sometimes kill a movie.


A.R.: What are your thoughts on Print on Demand and e-books taking over?

S. C.: Especially in the UK, it is very hard for British authors to get a step on the ladder that will take them to the top and I think small press publishers and indie publishing allows the little people to shine. With e-books, I really don't think that they will ever truly take over. Not everyone has the money to buy the equipment to read them on or even a computer and especially at the prices they are advertised at. I love the smell of a brand new book, I love being able to touch the pages and read it in obscure places such as the bath. I wouldn't take my laptop or mobile phone in the bath me so I sure as hell wouldn't take an e-reader with me and I think quite a few people think along those lines too.

A.R.: How many hours a day do you write? What education did you acquire for this work?

S. C.: I write up to eight hours a day, sometimes more. But at the minute with House of Horror becoming more and more popular, I seem to spend more time answering emails, filing contracts, reading through several piles of slush and formatting and editing anthologies and on top of that trying to advertise. I haven't really written many short stories. When I get time to write it’s usually on my several unfinished novels. I acquired no education in this field other than having a gcse and A level in English Literature. The rest is just learning through others. I have the ability to edit someone else’s work but when it comes to my own I struggle a lot.


A. R.: Are you going the agent route, or will you sign with a publisher or self-publish?

S. C.: I plan to eventually seek representation for my fourth novel but all of my other books have been self published and I am not afraid to say that. I have a decent following and steady sales and as I said earlier, it’s very hard for British authors at the minute especially in the horror field.


A. R.: Are you a crafter (must get paid for your stories) or are you an artist (does it for the love of the genre)?

S. C.: I guess I am a mixture of both. Primarily I am a crafter. I get paid for my short stories and of course my short story collections, novel and anthologies. But I also love the craft and love to see my work in print and also online and be able to link to for friends and family to see. House of Horror ezine is for the love and I am most appreciative of those who allow me to use their stories for free. I do try and give back to other free ‘zines as much as I can.


A. R.: Will you ever podcast your stories or write a graphic novel?

S. C: I am not sure about podcasting my stories. I used to do an audio section for stories under 1,000 words for House of Horror and that was because I can read about 1,000 words without getting tongue tied and even that still takes me a good few tries to do it. My stories are usually between 2,000-5,000 words long and I think I would get very frustrated. As for a graphic novel, my boyfriend Darren James is an artist. You can find his work on Deviantart under the name Dyce-Bastion or you can just Google that name and find him. He and I talked about doing one together once we have finished all of our commitments. He at the moment has been writing his book for 13 years and has almost finished the final draft of book one out of about 6 I think. And I also have two novels already in the works and all the work I do with House of Horror. Right at the minute no, but possibly in the near future, so watch this space.


A. R.: What is your Web site and blog address so we can check out your work?

S. C.: The website address is www.houseofhorror.org.uk. Please check out the open calls we have and maybe have a look around my house. The blog is updated with news and all the interviews and reviews we do. Also if you sign up with HOH you will receive a monthly newsletter just announcing what we have going on so readers can keep up to date with everything.

Thank you again AR. I must rush now for there is a man hanging upside down in my basement and my stomach is rumbling.... happy nightmares everyone!

www.myspace.com/secox

Friday, September 17, 2010

A. R.'s Interview with Jordan Krall


Week two of my interview series comes crashing in on ya with bizarro author, Jordan Krall. He writes bizarro, horror, and crime fiction. His work has been praised by Edward Lee, Tom Piccirilli, and Carlton Mellick III.

A. R.: Hi Jordan. Thanks for being my guest. A lot of horror fans, including me, don’t know anything about bizarro fiction. What separates bizarro from straight-up horror?

J. K.: Not all bizarro is horror. Bizarro fiction in general means fiction that is weird to the max. Think the literary equivalent of cult movies. There’s bizarro humor, bizarro SF, bizarro horror, bizarro westerns, bizarro fantasy, etc. As far as bizarro horror vs. the traditional kind, bizarro horror is a lot weirder. You’ll get strange characters, plots, and settings that you just won’t see in your average horror story. You will get the unexpected.


A. R.: I love cult movies! By the way, how was the Horrorfind convention? You know I’m dying to hear about that. Explain to those who don’t know what Horrorfind is.

J. K.: This was my first trip to Horrorfind. It’s a weekend convention that is mostly based around actors and directors in the genre but this year they had more writers such as Brian Keene, Joe Lansdale and Jack Ketchum. It was a pretty cool event. The bizarro authors that attended were a part of the BIZARRO POWER HOUR which was sixty minutes of craziness. It was me along with Andersen Prunty, William Pauley III, and Eric Mays. Greg Hall (of the Funky Werepig) also joined us. The reading went really well except for two dumb assholes getting offended at my use of the word “flesh-pistol”! Anyway, other than meeting some fans and selling books, we also drank a lot and made fun of people.

A. R.: Tell us a little about the books you have coming out or if one of your books just came out, and where you're going as far as content.

J. K.: My most recent book was KING SCRATCH. It’s a really twisted crime fiction story involving human flesh moonshine, Abe Lincoln, car crashes, and squid. I also just had a chapbook published called BLOW UP THE OUTSIDE WORLD. I co-wrote it with Ash Lomen. It’s a SF story that takes place both in space and in a sleazy grindhouse theater. As far as content, so far each of my books has been pretty different from the last one. I have similar themes and imagery but the subgenre differs. My next book is TENTACLE DEATH TRIP which Eraserhead Press is publishing. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel, sort of like Mad Max meets the Cthulhu mythos. Cars, tentacles, violence, tentacles, and more tentacles.


A. R.: What books/short stories/authors influenced you, and why?

J. K.: From an early age, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were both big influences. As I got to high school, I also got into J.G. Ballard (mostly his novel CRASH) as well as William Burroughs. Then came Elmore Leonard, Thomas Ligotti, and Edward Lee which have all had a big effect on me as an adult writer. Elmore Leonard has influenced me mostly in terms of the actual writing and structure. Most writers should look at how he writes dialogue.

A. R.: I love Lovecraft, Edward Lee and Elmore Leonard! What are your favorite macabre movies, and what do you think about the state of the macabre flick today?

J. K.: I’ve been a horror fan since I was a child. Some of my favorites include Psycho, Messiah of Evil, Halloween, Halloween 3, Videodrome, Suspiria, Video Violence, New York Ripper, Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive, Vacancy, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and a lot of other Italian horror/giallo films. Today’s horror movies are hit and miss for me. There are too many shitty straight-to-dvd movies being made that makes it so difficult to find something good. The horror flicks that hit theaters are usually disappointments.

A.R.: I agree. What are your thoughts on Print on Demand and e-books taking over?

J. K.: Print-on-demand is cool for people who want to start a small publishing business but it also gives people with no talent or work ethic the chance to clog the internet with their crappy books. E-books are okay but I don’t read them that much and personally, I think it’s just a way of big publishers to be able to make more money without having to dish out the cash to print actual books. I’m hoping it’s a fad that’ll just fizzle out. As a reader, I’d much rather have something tangible to show for my money. As a writer, I want something physical I can show off to people who come to my house.

A.R.: Do you write full-time or do you have a full-time job? What education did you acquire for this work?

J. K.: I have a full-time job as a teacher. I have a degree in Elementary Ed and certifications in Special Ed and History. I’m about midway through grad school so I’m hoping to get my Masters relatively soon.

A. R.: Did you sign with a publisher or self-publish?

J. K.: I signed with a publisher. I mostly work with Eraserhead Press but have also worked with Black Rainbows Press and Bucket O’ Guts Press.


A. R.: Are you a crafter (must get paid for your stories) or are you an artist (does it for the love of the genre)?

J. K.: I guess a little of both. It depends on who is accepting my story. If it’s a small anthology, I might be a little less concerned about payment. I do love the genre and don’t let the financial part get in the way. Of course, maybe I think that way because I do it as a side job so I’m not relying on the cash my writing brings in.

A. R.: Will you ever podcast your stories or write a graphic novel?

J. K.: I’m pretty inept technically so someone would have to do the podcast for me. As far as a graphic novel, I am writing a weird little comic strip with David W. Barbee. If someone else offered to draw a graphic novel for one of my stories (FISTFUL OF FEET would make a great graphic novel as would PIECEMEAL JUNE) I would definitely do it. So anyone interested should get in touch with me!

A. R.: Inept technically here as well. What do you envision for the future of the bizarro genre, as far as getting the word out to the people who aren’t familiar with it?

J. K.: It’ll get bigger and bigger. I envision there will be bizarro conventions all over the country (right now it’s only in Portland once a year) and then all over the world. People will refer to it as a genre just as often as they mention horror or SF. You will see celebrities showing interest in bizarro, too. You’ll see movie adaptations.

A. R.: What is your Web site and blog address so we can check out your work?

J. K.: My main site: http://www.filmynoir.com
My blog which is updated more often: http://jordankrall.wordpress.com

JORDAN KRALL BIBLIOGRAPHY

PIECEMEAL JUNE / Novella / Eraserhead Press / 2008

THE BIZARRO STARTER KIT BLUE (anthology) / story “The Longheads” / Bizarro Books / 2008

SQUID PULP BLUES / Novella Collection / Eraserhead Press / 2008

FURNITURE FANGS (zine) / story “Taboric Light Beer” / D.I.Y. zine / 2009

THE MAGAZINE OF BIZARRO FICTION Issue 1 (mag) / story “The Pistol Burps” / Bizarro Books / 2009

FISTFUL OF FEET / Novel / Eraserhead Press / 2009

THE MAGAZINE OF BIZARRO FICTION Issue 2 (mag) / article “The Weird, Weird West” / Bizarro Books / 2009

KING SCRATCH / Novella / Black Rainbows Press / 2010

BLOW UP THE OUTSIDE WORLD (co-written with Ash Lomen) / Chapbook / Bucket O’ Guts Press / 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A. R.'s Interview with Ty Schwamberger


I'm kicking off my interview series with horror and bizarro authors with a fellow horror author. Bloodlusters, meet Ty Schwamberger. He's had several short stories published online and in paper, and his first novel came out in 2008. One of his short stories, "Cake Batter," was optioned for a short movie and came out in 2010. A part-time faculty member at the University of Akron, he pens the monthly column, "Ty-ing Up the Genre" for Hellnotes.com and the quarterly column, "Guidance from the Dark Scribe," for Morpheus Tales magazine. Several anthologies and a novella are soon to come.

A.R.: Hi Ty. Thanks for being my guest. I know you write horror, but tell us a little about what kind of stories you pen, what you like to write about the most and where your short stories have been published. Congratulations on "Liquid Courage" in Shroud 9, by the way.

T.S.: Thank you for having me.

When someone asks me what sort of stuff I write; I normally respond with 'horror'. Although in reality I'd say half of my stories are suspense and the other half what I would consider straight-up horror. I enjoy writing about anything from a crazied person, the human psyche, creatures, new twists on classic monsters, and even adding in some scifi in one of my most recent penned short stories (this was more an experiment more than anything - though I think the story came out ok).

As far as my short stories prior to 'Liquid Courage' in Shroud Magazine #9; I was published on some ezines (which in my opinion shouldn't be overlooked by an beginning writer) and in some independent print mags. I do have a few flash stories coming out in anthologies at the end of this year, as well.

All other short stories (as of right now) will be published in forthcoming short story collections.




A.R.: I hear you have seven books coming out in the next year and a half. Tell us a little about that, what your first book is about and where you're going as far as content.

T.S.: I do have one novel that came out in 2008 - which is now out of print. You are correct; I do have seven books coming out in the next year and a half (as of this interview I have actually agreed in principle to an eighth book, but can't announce it until I've signed on the dotted line). The books which I've already signed contracts on are as follows: Fem Fangs (anthology - co-editor, end of this month), For After Midnight (short story collection, 4th Q 2010), Dark Things II (anthology - editor - 1st Q 2011), Twisted Tales from the Torchlight Inn (3-novella collection by Myself, Dean Harrison and Thomas A. Erb - February 2011), Relics & Remains (anthology - editor - March 2011), On Dark, Lonely Nights (short story collection, 1st Q 2012), Dinin' (novella - 1st Q 2012).

You can actually read more about each forthcoming book via various links on my website at: http://tyschwamberger.com

A.R.: What books/short stories/authors influenced you, and why?

T.S.: My favorite author is, Richard Laymon. I have all but 1 of his books (excluding chapbooks and magazines) and absolutely love his writing style. In fact, I've had more than a few people tell me that my writing style is similiar to his. This definitely isn't by design and I can only hope to ever be as half as good as he was. There are several other current authors that I absolutely love to read, as well, but I think that is better left unsaid.

As far as Laymon; I've always enjoyed how he can take such a common situation and turn it into something off-the-wall or macabre. His style is simple, yet effective, and can scare the ever-living hell out of you. It's perfect!

A.R.: Great answer! I love Laymon. What are your favorite horror movies, and what do you think about the state of the horror flick today?

T.S.: I grew up watching the slasher films (Friday the 13th, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc) of the 80s. My favorite is definitely the original Friday the 13th movies. Though I don't particularly like the remakes of some of the 80s films, I think the horror movie industry (including some kick ass B-movies) is really pumping out some great stuff, today. I try to watch as many as I can get my grubby little hands on.

A.R.: What are your thoughts on Print on Demand and e-books taking over? I heard Dorchester Publishing has gone all e-books, which includes their Leisure Horror imprint.

T.S.: Listen. I remember two and a half years ago when I started writing (yes, believe it or not, I've only been doing this that short of time - if you couldn't tell from the number of books I have coming out over a relatively short period of time - I like to go balls-out when it's something I love to do); POD was taboo as all get-out. But, now...oh, now...the majority of small presses do it, along with some major publishers. From a business standpoint; how can someone say that isn't the way to go? Hell. You don't have to print thousands of books that you aren't even sure are going to sell and can instead just print them as they are ordered. This DOESN'T in any way diminish the quality of the fiction contained inside the covers (for the 'quality' presses, of course), but helps control overhead and therefore help these great companies not go by the wayside just because the economy of this country is in the dumps.

As far as e-books...some of my future stuff will be coming out in e-book form (though, every title WILL be in print, as well). I can't say I'm absolutely sold on the idea of reading an e-book, since I do write and read my stuff and others that I'm editing for on a 'screen' already, but I will say that tons of people are jumping on the idea of ereaders and such and can help the beginning writer (just as ezines) get in front of a large audience to showcase their stuff.

A.R.: Do you write full-time or do you have a full-time job? What education did you acquire for this work?

T.S.: I graduated from college in 2000 with a BA in History of all things. My degree basically means I can't, unless I would have gone onto graduate school, find a job in my major. For the past 8 years, I've worked for a few companies doing accounting-type work. I actually got asked recently in another interview; how in the world do I still have to work a 'day job' (as I call it) with all the stuff I have coming out. My answer is always; it's not as easy as some people think to be able to make enough writing to do it full-time. Writing full-time is my ultimate goal, and if things keep going as they are now, I hope to be able to do so in the next 5 years. That's if the stress of working full-time and keeping up my current output of material doesn't give me a brain hemorage first...

A.R.: Did you go the agent route, sign with a publisher or self-publish?

T.S.: I've never gone the self-publishing route. Although, if you have a dedicated following like Brain Keene, for example, I think it can work for you. Maybe one day...I don't know.

At this point, and I can say with some authority for the future, I will never sign with an agent. I do think that agents can be beneficial, but I actually enjoy the business side of writing just as much as the putting the words on the page part. All of the stuff I already have out there, and more specifically the future material, I have signed exclusively with a variety of publishers on my own accord.

A.R.: Are you a crafter (must get paid for your stories) or are you an artist (does it for the love of horror)?

T.S.: I consider myself a storyteller. I guess this would technically fall under the 'artist' category. And although I currently do a few things that are unpaid (which I'm not going to tell), I'm at a point now where I need to get paid for the work I do. Bascially, I'm just too damn busy for anything new going forward for which I'm not eventually going to see some sort of monetary compensation coming in.

A.R.: Clive Barker said "Horror is just a sticky-label," that writing a great story is what's most important. Your thoughts on this?

T.S.: How can anyone argue with a master of horror such as Clive Barker, ya know? I definitely can't. I think if you consider yourself a horror writer, which I do, you'll end up bringing in some sort of horrific material into some part of the story - whether it was your intention when you started the thing or not.

A.R.: Will you ever podcast your stories or write a graphic novel?

T.S.: Podcast - At this point, no. Perhaps in the future if the right situation comes along.

Graphic Novel - I would love to jump into this arena and have tried a few times. Graphic novels are really freakin' hot right now and I think it would be great fun to adapt something I've already written into pictures and dialog bubbles or create something new to format the story strictly for the use as a graphic novel.

Thank you, Ty, for your hard work at furthering the horror genre! I wish you much success!

http://tyschwamberger.com

Friday, August 20, 2010

How I Got Into the Writing Business

I thought it would be interesting to blog about how I became a full-time author and what I was doing until then, so here goes nothin:

I've been writing short stories since I was eighteen, showing them to my little brother and my closest friends. I also found I had a storytelling ability, as I could hold people captive with my crazy tales, whether at work or around a campfire.

Yet that was not my first ambition.

I became a metalhead when I was twelve because of KISS, and I wanted a career in heavy metal more than anything. As a teen, however, I was just learning to play because I started the guitar late, at sixteen (I actually started on bass and still play the bass guitar).

If I want to be truthful, my first ambition was sports. I was on the basketball team at Lincoln School in Monmouth, Illinois, where we won a couple of championships. I always got the Best Defensive Player award, stuffing the basketball on wannabe shooters, and even made a three-point shot from half-court (when you meet me, you'll know why I played basketball: I'm 6'3'').

But when I got to junior high, I no longer made the basketball team, and I had to do something to be special. Once puberty happened, I tried to impress the girls with heavy metal. It blew me away with its sick, over-the-top grossfest. Since I was just learning the guitar and wasn't that good yet, it didn't pan out for me to be in a band at eighteen.

When I was sixteen, they gave me an assignment in high school that changed my life. I had to read Edgar Allen Poe's "The Telltale Heart," and it was the first time I ever enjoyed an assignment. I was fascinated with the gripping, eerie tale, knowing I wanted to do that for a living. By age seventeen, I was reading Chillers magazine every month, a 'zine that not only had great short stories by up-and-coming authors, but also pictures and articles about now hard-to-find horror classics like Evilspeak, Without Warning and Mother's Day. By the time I was eighteen, I had the whole Stephen King collection.

Yet heavy metal was my true love. So I moved to the city as a young adult and worked full-time for twenty-one years, putting together bands like Heaven's Which that didn't want it bad enough to practice. I finally found a serious band named Streetlight, who not only wanted to practice, but also was supposed to open for Seventh Angel (not the Seventh Angel that's currently popular). The problem with heavy metal was, I played too Goddamned fast! By the time I realized I was meant to play death metal, I was twenty-eight, too old to start a band. All the death metal bands I listen to put out their first album when they were eighteen. Therefore, I've resigned to do it as a studio project.

I kept reading Chillers up through the early nineties (it was still excellent!) and worked on bettering the stories I'd written at eighteen, typing them up on Wordperfect at college and sending them out in the mail. Problem was, I didn't spend enough time perfecting my craft because, at the time, I was still trying to put together a band. The same thing happened from 1999-2001. I still had a jones for a musical group.

Finally, in 2006, I got the idea for a novel that demanded to be written. It started out as a seventy-page scribble draft in my notebook. Then I wrote for an hour on the library computer every morning before my full-time job, lengthening it to two-hundred pages. In 2007, I finally gave up the band dream (I'm getting ready to record my first studio album though!) and became a full-time author, getting serious enough to start getting good in the spring of 2009 (don't let anyone tell you it happens overnight!), when I started getting publications. By 2008, I'd added a bunch of parts to the novel and fleshed it out to over 80,000 words (over five hundred pages), but, since I wrote it when I didn't know what I was doing, it needed major surgery. Problem is, I still believe in the plot, which means it's time to take out the bonesaw and whip this thing into shape, an arduous task, indeed.

I'm glad to say my first novel will be critiqued and fixed and proofread ten more times by October, which is also when my birthday comes up on the calendar. I can't think of a better birthday present than finally finishing a novel. At that time, I'll start drafting query letters and sending them to agents. There's even a couple of agents that represent horror that are going to be at the writer's conference I'm going to in October, as luck would have it. I can't wait.

It's been a long road, and I suspect I have much farther to go before I'm a famous novelist.

Wish me luck!

A. R.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Music of Silence

At the writer's conference, they say "Always be professional," which I agree with, but then someone said, "Thank editors that reject you for taking the time to look at your story." Then I read an agent blog saying, "There's no need to thank me for rejecting your query. It's my job."

So whom do you believe?

I've also heard it said at the conference to tweet on Twitter twice a day and get involved in social media, like Facebook. Okay, but what if I don't have anything to say? You see, there's no taming the tonuge, so if one says something just to say something, one will end up saying something foolish and offending people. Sometimes key people. Sometimes editors and agents.

A famous singer once said, "What if my fan meets me and thinks I'm a jerk?" I'm thinking the same thing. What if you add me on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever, and you don't like me because you think I'm a jerk? What if I add you and think that you're a jerk? I mean, am I wrong here? Is this not a legitimate concern?

Not to mention the people on Facebook just waiting for you to say something stupid so they can take your job away.

The music of silence. It's a motherfuckin symphony.

Therefore, right or no, I'm not posting everyday just because I'm supposed to. If I don't have something clever to say or if I don't have something to promote, I'm not talking. I've had it with foot-in-the-mouth syndrome!

It's time to make some sense here!

Whay say you?

On my playlist: Practice What You Preach by Testament.

What I'm reading: The Loveliest Dead by Ray Garton.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tags

I've been hearing a lot about labels in writing lately--and no disrespect meant to anyone--but I see it as a necessary evil: nothing more, nothing less. They call it "horror" or "bizarro" because horror's not scary enough anymore. Don't get me wrong, an author has to brand himself, therefore I'm a "horror author." I keep in mind that it's just a tag, however. The bottom line for me is an exciting story. I don't care what genre it is if it's a great story, and most horror tales aren't great, let's face it. If you're kicking my ass with a thriller, then good for you.

Take The Wicker Man (*yawns* I am so tired of stating, "The 1973 version"), for instance. It's a lot of things: it's scary, it's a musical and it's an erotic film. Some people don't like it when there's a lot of things going on in a novel (thinking Bag of Bones here), but I do, and if that wasn't the case with my first novel, I wouldn't have cared enough to come back to writing. In addition to the scares and gore, it's got comedy and it's got eros. Having a lot going on is better than having nothing going on, which I've seen a lot of. To call oneself "horror" is to imply that there's nothing to life but being afraid. We also are sometimes confident, sometimes laughing, and every once in a while, we fuck.

Then some people call themselves "romance authors." This is the most foolish tag of all. Don't all stories have a romance embedded in them? I know all but one of my novels do.

"Adult" is a funny tag. I'm still the same teenage kid that listened to metal and read Chillers magazine every week. Only difference is, as adults, we can work out and learn to fight, thereby not being pushed around anymore.

A good example is music. I'm a musician, and they want to call me "death metal" or "screamo" or "emo." Most of those tags really bother me. I just like exciting music. I listen to thrash most of the time because most bands in my genre keep garbage songs, and some don't even have lead solos. I don't want to listen to the popular radio station to make more friends, however. Chances are they're going to see through the facade anyway.

So call one of my pieces a great tale, and I'll be happy.

On my playlist: Covenant by Morbid Angel

Reading: Wolf's Bluff by W. D. Gagliani.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Writing World 7/25 - 7/31

I had a better week compared to last week now that my dental problems are subsiding and I can focus on my work. I had another scare with the antibiotics, which made me just as nervous as the Tylenol 3 Codeine. I think any drug at or above four hundred milligrams is dangerous to someone with a thin body with no place for the drug to go but straight to the brain or the body's destruction. Once again, I flushed it out with six glasses of water and was all right. I've said this before: I can't take prescription drugs. On the lucky side of things, I didn't get a dry socket, so that's something to be thankful for.

I submitted a story to Necrotic Tissue for the first time and also sent one to the Halloween issue of Shroud, though I've already got one in with the regular Shroud issue (a piece I co-wrote with fellow horror author, Ro Van Saint), as I'm allowed one for both. I also worked on proofreading the first sequel to my first novel as I'm still waiting for a couple critiques before I can fix and proofread the newest first novel chapters as they come into the critique group's queue.

As I grow tired of my e-reader (just another way to read a book now), I wonder if signing with Amazon if you can't find an agent--or in J. A. Konrath's case, even if you have an agent--is wise in the long run. E-books going through the roof is starting to drop off according to a blog I read on www.ereads.com, so perhaps this is a temporary buzz. Don't get me wrong--they're still booming--just booming a little less than at the beginning of the year. This just reinforces my original belief, that I need a agent and a big-six publisher if I want the proper distribution of my tomes. I could be wrong (probably), but the e-reader isn't new to me anymore, and I'm starting to miss my paperbacks, especially the color covers, although they're fixing that.

On my playlist: Serpents of the Light by Deicide. I like this one and Scars of the Crucifix because instead of being focused on love for the devil, it's mostly just complaining about the hypocrites, something I can wholeheartedly understand.

What I'm reading: The Strain by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro. This is a fascinating read by two very talented novelists, one of them responsible for bringing us the brilliant Pan's Labrynth.


I owe a debt for paragraph three of this blog to www.ereads.com, the Association of American Publishers and the International Digital Publishing Forum.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Week from Hell

Progress has been steady as far as my work goes. I'll finish a short story for Shroud's Halloween issue and submit it today--Saturday, and I finished the rough draft and two proofreads of my newest story that I'm going to submit to Necrotic Tissue yesterday. The two newest chapters of my first novel just came up in my critique group, Critters. All is well on that front; however, I had one of the worst health problems anyone could have, in my opinion--an abcsessed tooth.

Dental problems are pretty common, you say? Not for me. It's always one of the worst experiences of my life. Last time was 1994, when I had four wisdom teeth out at the same time, and the horse pills they gave me made me hallucinate for almost forever. This time, they put me on Tylenol 3 Codeine, which almost gave me a nervous breakdown. I had to get off it. I was so nervous, I was pacing the apartment until I called 911 and talked with an EMT, who told me to get it out of my system by drinking milk and water. So I walked it off, drinking two glasses of milk and three glasses of water. After peeing three times in a half hour, I finally got it out of my system and was able to calm down and get some sleep.

I promptly stopped taking all the legal dope. Fuck pill-popping. I've got the NATURAL CURES "THEY" DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT book and I know the score.

Of course they can't get me in at the dentist for a while. No hurry anyway. I can't stop thinking of those two horror movies, The Dentist and The Dentist 2.

The problem started when I began using Sensodyne's Pro Namel toothpaste. Say I'm paranoid, but my teeth felt funny from the first time I brushed with it. It's got potassium nitrate in it! They use that shit to make bombs! I've went back to Colgate, believe me.

Two days later, and I'm finally getting back to normal. I'm calm and ready to shake up the horror world.

On my playlist: Deicide's Scars of the Crucifix. I'll admit it, I do listen to secular music once in a while.

Currently reading: The Loveliest Dead by Ray Garton, his first novel.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shirley Jackson, One of the Best Horror Novelists of All Time


Continuing my partnership with fellow-horror author, Ben Eads, this time we're spotlighting Shirley Jackson, whose novel, The Haunting of Hill House, remains one of my favorite books of all time. Mrs. Jackson, in my humble opinion, remains the queen of the ghost story.

Born in 1916 in Burlingame, California, she moved to Rochester, New York, in 1934, where she attended Brighton High School. She was asked to leave the University of Rochester (a sign of a true horror author if there ever was one) and went on to graduate with a B.A. from Syracuse Universty in 1940.

While a student at Syracuse, she published her first short story, "Janice," and she became the editor of the campus humor magazine, where she met her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, who would go on to become a noted literary critic. Together, they founded the literary magazine, Spectre. In 1944, her story, "Come Dance With Me in Ireland," was chosen for Best American Short Stories. In 1951, "The Summer People" was also chosen or Best American Short Stories. In 1961, she recieved the Edgar Allen Poe Award for her short story, "Louisa, Please."

In Twentieth Century Authors by Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Harcraft (1964), she admitted she didn't like to talk about herself or her work. Shirley disliked interviews, preferring to let her stories speak for themselves.

Speak for themselves, they did. Her most acclaimed short story, "The Lottery," was published in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. No other story has generated so much reader mail in The New Yorker either before or since, most of it hate mail (another surefire sign that she did her job as a horror author). Hyman and Jackson eventually moved to North Bennington, Vermont, where Shirley became a professor at Bennington College. It was in this backdrop, while she raised her four children (of which she often complained about and fictionalized in books like Life Among Savages and Raising Demons), where she continued to write short stories and penned her novels, The Road Through the Wall (1948), the short story collection, The Lottery, or The Adventures of James Harris (1949), Hangsaman (1951), Life Among Savages (1953), The Bird's Nest (1954), The Witchcraft of Salem Village (1956), The Sundial, (1958), Raising Demons , the second book in the Life Among Savages series (1959) and The Haunting of Hill House (1959), which Stephen King called "One of the most important novels of the 20th Century." In 1962, her novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, was named as one of Time magazines's Ten Best Novels, and was adapted for the stage by Hugh Wheeler in the mid 60's.

She also wrote in other genres: a children's novel, Nine Magic Wishes, and a children's play called The Bad Children, based on Hansel and Gretel. The Witchcraft of Salem Village was also a novel for young readers. Refusing to promote or explain her work, her husband explained that her tales were not the product of neurotic fantasies, but "a sensitive and faithful anatomy of our times, fitting symbols for our distressing world of the concentration camp and the Bomb."

Shirley died in 1965 of heart failure in her home. Her psychosomatic illnesses and the many precription drugs used to treat them, along with obesity and a heavy smoking habit, all led to her early death. But her work is carried on in the movies versions of her work. "The Lottery" has seen three film versions, and The Haunting of Hill House was filmed twice, the first time in 1963 starring Julie Harris, and the remake, The Haunting, in 1999, with Claire Bloom, Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lili Taylor.

In 1996, a crate of her unpublished short stories was found in her house and released in the collection, Just Another Day. She was a main influence of authors of today, such as Neil Gaiman, Richard Matheson and Stephen King.

The Haunting of Hill House scared me out of my wits and remains the second best novel I've ever read in my life, next to Rosemary's Baby. The way she gave the house a personality is unequaled in any ghost story either before or after her tome. Young horror authors would be fools not to read all her work from front to back.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bonded by Blood 2: a Romance in Red Now Available as an e-book on Kindle!


Bonded by Blood 2: a Romance in Red, featuring my award-winning story, "The Interloper," is now available for the Kindle e-reader! Check out the anthology with the best new talent in horror. And it's only $8.00, compared to the $15.95 paperback price!

Come get you some of that, Kindle owners!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back to My Crazy Work Schedule!

After a week's vacation, I'm back to full-time writing, which includes many things I'll tell you about presently. I took the time off because writing can be maddening, and I needed it for sanity's sake. (Make a note, new writers!)

Projects in the works are a new short story for Necrotic Tissue as soon as I finish reading the sample copy I just recived in the mail and, after that, a screenplay. I'm going to check out The Elements of Screenwriting from the library and buy a Stephen King screenplay to learn how and then--pardon the horror pun--take a wild stab at it. I'm still waiting to hear back from Horror Bound about my piece in for their Fear of the Dark anthology (which probably means I was rejected) and a story I co-wrote with Ro Van Saint for Shroud magazine. I am very happy my tales were accepted in The Dark Fiction Spotlight and in the D.O.A. anthology! In the midst of all this chaos I will be working on some order: a pro Web site with tabs and a novella I'll be giving away to everyone who signs up for the mailing list. WOOT!

On the playlist: Scrolls of the Megilloth by Mortification, the best death metal album ever.

What I'm reading: House Infernal by Edward Lee. I can't wait to tear into this one after reading the first two books in the trilogy: City Infernal and Infernal Angel.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Does Horror Make Fans Kill People?


There's been a lot of controversy about whether watching horror makes people commit violent crimes. Let me put this mess to rest right now. I've been a horror fanatic since I was five years old, and I've never killed anybody. We're just entertainers, making people forget about their miserable lives for a while.

Some writers believe the hype. Too many, actually. I've seen it happen. Their girlfriend ends up in pieces in the fridge or in the closet or they threaten to kill people on the Internet: virtual guts, or trolling, which is the new term for it. Fact of the matter is, some people are nutbags and are going to kill someone no matter what. Horror movies and books are just the scapegoat so they don't have to take responsibility for their actions.

Of course, I'm talking about supernatural or psychological horror, not the slasher shit. I try to stay away from that stuff because it makes me fantasize about becoming Michael Myers and because it's plotless, just some guy with a knife chasing a woman into a shed. Then she picks the flashlight instead of a weapon. You've got to be kidding me.

By the way, certain writers seem to be confused. Let me clear this up. My name is not "fucker."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Arthur Machen, One of the Great Masters


This post is due to my writing partnership with fellow author, Ben Eads, to try to enlighten newbie writers and readers to great authors' works.

Arthur Machen (1863-1947) is best known for his novel, The Great God Pan, and is also noted as creating the legend of the Angels of Mons. The Great God Pan has been called "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English Language" by Stephen King. It was the influence for King's short story, "N," one of most frightening tales in the amazing new collection, Just After Sunset.

Arthur was born in the Welsh country of Gwent in Wales. The breathtaking atmosphere, along with the Celtic, Roman and medieval history, influenced his eerie works. Machen's father, the vicar of a church, brought Arthur up in the rectory (no small wonder why he turned to the occult!). Young Arthur attended a cathedral school at eleven but did not attend college, due to his family's poverty. Later, sent to London, he failed the exams to get into medical school. He worked as a children's tutor and a publisher's clerk while he wrote his macabre fiction in the evening.

A member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn along with Algernon Blackwood, Yeats, Aleister Crowley and Machen's friend, A. E. Waite, Machen was also a journalist, essayist and Shakespearean actor. His autobiography is available, beginning with Far Off Things in 1922, the first of three volumes, if you want to get geeky about your Machen research. Along with Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James and Lord Dunsany, H. P. Lovecraft called him one of the four "modern masters" of supernatural horror.

A prolific writer, he wrote many books in his lifetime: Eleusinia (1881); The Chronicle of Cleventy (1888); The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light (1894); The Three Impostors (1895); The House of Souls (1906); The Secret Glory (1907); The Hill of Dreams (1907); The Angels of Mons: The Bowman and Other Legends of the War (1915); The Terror (1916); Strange Roads (1923); The Shining Pyramid (1923); Omaments in Jade (1924); The Glorious Mystery (1924); The Green Round (1933); The Children of the Pool and Other Stories (1936); The Cosy Room (1936); and Tales of Horror and the Supernatural (1948). He wrote too many short stories to even count.

Horror authors of today, take note, and do not fail to be inspired by one of the greatest horror authors of all time!

I owe a debt to Wikipedia for their excellent article on Arthur Machen, as well as this amazing page on Arthur: http://alangullette.com/lit/machen/

Monday, June 21, 2010

Swamped

I'm swamped as usual as far as writing projects are concerned, getting my novel chapters critiqued and fixed two at a time in the critique group, Critters, as well as writing and proofreading short stories while I wait for novel critiques. I have a piece in at Horror Bound's Fear of the Dark anthology, a story entered in another magazine where I'm waiting to hear if I'll win first or second place and earn a prize, and a collaboration with fellow author, Ro Van Saint, in at Shroud magazine. This is in addition to critiquing others people's stories and proofreading my second and third novels as I wait for crits. I'm waiting for two more critiques for a short story for Shroud's Halloween issue as well. In addition to having a couple pieces accepted for publication lately, I'm writing a new novel, trying to pound out 2,000 words every morning. The week is for writing and the weekends are for critiquing and reading agent blogs. I hardly have time to shit!

On the playlist: the latest two Megadeth CDs, United Abominations and Endgame. I'm proud to announce they're back to performing speed-metal. The latter two discs are the best ones since 1990's Rust in Peace!

Reading: Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris. A former crime-writer, Harris never fails to deliver as he continues the sage of the ultimate villian, Hannibal the Cannibal, the one outlaw smarter than the FBI and the police.

Oh, and certain people joining my blog that aren't eighteen are hereby warned: GET THE HELL OFF MY BLOG IF YOU'RE UNDER EIGHTEEN AND GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! IT ISN'T LEGAL TO PUSH UNCENSORED HORROR TO CHILDREN!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Influental Work of Algernon Blackwood



Thanks to my good friend, author Ben Eads, he and I are spotlighting authors of the past and present as major influences of horror writers everywhere, and are hoping to turn some people on to the great masters, should they be living in a cave.

Today's spotlight is on Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951), who was mainly known for his ghost stories but a prolific author who expounded on various topics and achieved much more than the mere "ghost story author" tag. Because of the eclectic mix of mysticism, spiritualism and psychology, S. T. Joshi stated that "his work is more consistently meritorious than any weird writer's except Lord Dunsany's." H. P. Lovecraft said his supernatural, mystical undertones put him on a par with Arthur Machen and called his story, "The Willows," the best modern short story he'd ever read.

Algernon was born in Shooter's Hill, now Kent, England, to a well-to-do religous family headed by his father, a high official in the British Post Office. Refusing to conform to their Sandemanian conversion which landed them in an ultra-Calvinistic sect, young Algernon was educated at Wellington College and worked a number of tedious jobs (as I have also done), finding himself no good at these Just Over Brokes. He moved to New York and lived in abject poverty. A weaker man might have given up, but Blackwood found himself in the good graces of a wealthy man and was soon writing for the New York Times, as well as being an occasional essayist for various periodicals.

The pivotal point in his life came when he moved back to England in his thirties and began to write tales of the supernatural. Penning at least ten short story collections (so many, in fact, he couldn't count them all), he soon told these tales on radio and television. He not only joined The Ghost Club, but was an avid enthusiast of nature, likely to be skiing or mountain-climbing when not working on his horrific stories. A loner, his cheerful demeanor moved those he dealt with when venturing out in public. Known for his qabbalistic factions, he eventually joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Blackwood is best known for not only "The Willows," but also for his short story, "The Wendigo," the best tale ever written about the enormous Indian werewolf, told through the eyes of the protagonist as his friend is carried into the sky by a giant-sized monster.

His first book in 1906, The Empty House, was followed by The Listener (1907). Not limited to the horror genre, his other tomes include The Human Chord (1910), The Lost Valley (1910), The Centaur (1911), Pan's Garden (1912), Incredible Adventures (1914), Ten Minute Stories (1914), Julius LeVallon (1916), Day and Night Stories (1917), The Wolves of God (1921), The Bright Messenger (1922) and Tongues of Fire (1924).

His range of influence on my work comes from what he calls "a series of shocks," catching the reader off-guard with what he called "grotesqueries (a word I now use in abundance)." My favorite Blackwood tale is "Ancient Sorceries," a titillating piece about a small, nerdy man looked down on by conventional society. He gets off a train at the wrong stop to embark on an adventure which becomes the thrill-ride of his life. He checks into an inn and, the owner's daughter, a seventeen year old vivacious girl, leads him into a racious romance. He comes to find out this child is a reincarnated witch who's deathly afraid of fire because she was burned to death in the inquisition.

No one can deny Algernon Blackwood's contribution to the horror genre, a true master of not only the ghost story but of every kind of macabre tale, a forerunner of today's trend, Wiccan horror, in stories like "Ancient Lights." Algernon Blackwood is a must-read for anyone serious about becoming a horror author.

This blogger owes a thanks to literature and Web sites. Information based on research from E. F. Bleiler's introduction in Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood, the Wikipedia article on Algernon Blackwood and the Web site, The Literary Gothic.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Horror Quantity Gone Down, So Stress the Quality

Has anyone else noticed that the quantity of great horror is way down lately? It seems like anyone can become an author today (see earlier post, "Becoming"). Even Miley Cyrus has a book!

I prefer authors of yesteryear like Shirley Jackson, Ira Levin, Whitley Strieber, Jay Anson, William Peter Blatty, H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Woolstonecraft Shelley and early Stephen King and Dean Koontz (70's and early 80's). In the old days, one really had to be gifted to get a book contract. Now, anyone who learns the writer rules can have a book out. Hell, even those that don't (see my earlier post on "Twilight")!

Not that there aren't great books coming out. They're just far and few between: Gary Braunbeck's Coffin County; Gord Rollo's The Jigsaw Man; John Everson's Covenant and Sacrifice; Scott Smith's The Ruins; anything by Ray Garton; The Girl Next Door and The Lost by Jack Ketchum; and anything by Edward Lee. But you're lucky to get a great book today. If you do, it's one in a million. That saddens me.

And then there's the slasher story. No plot, just a guy running around with a mask and a weapon chasing a nubile little minx into a shack where she has to choose between the bowie knife, sword, handgun, machete, rifle and flashlight, and she picks the fucking flashlight. Thanks to that shit, "horror" is now a bad word because it shot itself in the head in the 80's with sequel no. 34 of the same old shit, different day. What's even worse is that they're remaking all the slasher flicks from the 80's that gave us a bad reputation in the first place!

Let's strive to put out the best work we can and, to do that, one has to read like a fiend to avoid writer's block.

GOOD LUCK!

Friday, June 11, 2010

On Music

I thought I'd stray from writing a little bit this week and talk about music. I have an hourglass body Jackson Charvel. I also have a Randy Rhoads V Jackson Charvel, but I broke it and won't have the money to get it fixed until I finish my novel and get a book contract. The V has hot pickups and my other guitars (including a bass) don't. So that's a big problem right there. Once you go hot pickups you never go back!

NOT!

I also blew a tube in my amp, which I also can't afford to fix till the book contract.

Now, you'd think this would be a huge problem. I did too. But what it forced me to do was hunker down and really reach to get a great sound out of it. The high E-string sounds almost completely acoustic. I can't even use my Marshall pedal. With a tube blown, it still has a distortion sound but not as flashy as before.

What this forced me to do was play like a fiend to sound professional, and I did it! I really reached down deep and found some adrenaline. The fact that I can still make it sound brutal and wonderful is a miracle.

If you can't jam on a near-acoustic amp then you ain't shit.

I'm not going to tell you about the embarrassing album I put out in 2002 when I didn't know anything about death metal, and don't try to find it. It's out of print. I gave my last copy to my cousin so don't pester me about it. Believe me, you don't want it. I'm light years beyond that now and know what I'm doing. I backslid to devil worship for a year and loaded up on Deicide, Morbid Angel, Nile, Six Feet Under, Cannibal Corpse, Demiricous and Corporal Mortification. Therefore, I know how to do real death metal.

Now I sound like a Christian Cannibal Corpse.

So, the moral of the story is, it was probably better not to fix my amp!

FUCK YEAH!

Oh shit, I can't do it, can't stay away from the writing topic. The Haunting of Hill House is FUCKING BRILLIANT!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Love My Sony Reader!


I never thought I'd say this, but I love my Sony Reader! I'm playing with my new toy, typical behavior from me since I'm just a big kid, still the same seventeen year old that read Chillers horror magazine constantly. The screen isn't hard on my eyes. The only regret is I can't get some Kindle titles. *Sighs* I'm still reading my paper books, but there's a fascination present when I use the electronic device I didn't think I'd have. I guess I'm a total technology whore! Now I want an iPod, an iPad (yeah, like I'd be able to afford that) and I want to turn on my cell phone. I'd be able to put up a bunch of cool pictures on Facebook with it, and I wouldn't have to buy an expensive digital camera.

At this point, I'm still reading the instruction manual and getting ready to get some e-books at the library, plus wanting to search for some free e-books. Next month, when I'm not in such financial straights, I'll start buying some electronic novels. Last night, I read the first seventeen pages of The Strain. I'm definitely buying that book! I downloaded my e-library, and found they have House Infernal by Edward Lee! I've already bought and read City Infernal and Infernal Angel, but I haven't been able to find the third book in the trilogy anywhere: out of print on the 'net and absent in the used bookstore in Pekin. Therein lies the purpose of the e-book.

McLovin it like McDonald's! But I still love my paper books. It's a hell of a lot easier to buy a paperback and bring it home and read it. You don't have to order it on your computer and switch it over. Currently I'm in love with my paperback edition of Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box. Time will tell if I'll get tired of my e-reader or not and, that seems to be the question, doesn't it? Will the e-book trend die off? I don't think so. People didn't get tired of their iPods.

Information about whether the e-book trend will last came from ereads.com and Publisher's Weekly.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bonded by Blood 2: a Romance in Red soon available as an e-book on Kindle!


Bonded by Blood 2: a Romance in Red, featuring my story, "The Interloper," is going to be available as a download on Kindle this summer! Don't miss the best in new horror from story of the month contest winners of SNM Horror Magazine in this stirring anthology with a beautiful cover.

There's been a lag on sales of BBB 2, and I'm positive it's because it's only available in paper. With e-book sales going up 450% in March of this year alone, this will definitely solve the sales problem, as everyone's getting a Kindle or a Sony Reader lately. Like SNM editor Steve Marshall, I prefer paper books, but an author would have to be bonkers to ignore this sales trend.

So, all you e-book lovers, get your copy of BBB 2 this summer, only available on the Amazon Kindle (& probably on your iPad, as well).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Facebook War of the Worlds

All of you reading my blog will get the skinny on this, but all those poor schmucks that don't read it are about to get a surprise on Facebook. I'm going to announce that zombies have taken over New York and that the military is rushing in trying to contain it, but a few will escape by train. While I'm keeping you informed of the "grisly events," one of the undead will make her way to me . . . with disastrous results.

This is the comeuppance people deserve for sending me virtual gifts like "A little bitty pink pretty pot" and all that shit (Metal virtual gifts are okay). I'm not going to tell them I'm faking it. I'll say I heard it on the news.

Watch worldwide panic ensue.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tales from the Abyss

I've talked before about collaborating with fellow horror author, Ro Van Saint, and our first book is coming out on June 1st, titled Tales from the Abyss. This four-story ebook won't contain an actual collaboration on a story, but two tales by her and two by me. But it's FREE. This gives you a taste of better things to come. Just sign up for The Hooligans list on www.zerotorockstar.com to recieve it at the beginning of next month (though personally I am an anti-rock star).

The next book will feature even better stories, and might include the tale I collaborated on with her if the pro-paying magazine I'm going to send it to doesn't publish it. The next book will not be free. I'm very excited about this as the first story I wrote with her is the sickest piece I've ever taken part in. The next project with Ro will be a novella, and then a novel will follow, Lord willin and if the creek doesn't rise.

So sign up, creeps, and get freaked! You won't regret it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sony Reader

Okay, I've decided to cave to buying the almighty e-reader, but I'm getting a Sony Reader instead of a Kindle--too pricey. I could go on about how I prefer paper books, but that would be detrimental to me since I have stories out in two of them: Heavy Metal Horror and Vermin through Rymfire e-books. Those e-novels are fucking terrific, as is Bonded by Blood 2, which will soon be out on e-book also, so there'll be three.

The only time I'm going to use the damned thing is to review books for Nitelbade 'zine.

The rest of the time I'll be reading my paper books in my La-Z-Boy chair. It's been proven that e-books aren't better for the environment either. Because of the water and minerals it takes to make an e-reader, it's actually worse for the environment. So e-book lovers can't pipe that song anymore.

I'm just glad I'm back in my easy chair with paper books until the last week of the month.


I owe the information on e-books being worse for the environment to Richard Curtis's wonderful blog, www.ereads.com, to Daniel Goleman, author of Ecological Intelligence and to Gregory Norris, who's developing a life-cycle assessment software system.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kindle

Yes, A. R.'s giving in to the almighty Kindle (talking about myself in the third person--that's a good sign). I could sit here and chaw off about how I prefer paper books, but that would do me a disservice, seeing I have stories out in two e-books (that's right, the Rymfire ones).

Heavy Metal Horror and Vermin are fucking wonderful!

But as for the rest . . . well, let's just say I won't be using the Kindle god unless I'm reviewing a book for Niteblade, and let's leave it at that.

Oh Gawd, horror is so unhealthy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

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Welcome to a world hidden behind the blinds of reality, a landscape waiting to be molded into a thing of pain and torture.



This anthology is not for the faint-hearted. The ideas, themes, and disturbing images portrayed within these pages will send your brain into overdrive on the road to madness. This book is guaranteed to rob you of sleep at night by bringing you the nightmare you've most feared...



Carole Gill's "Truth Hurts," where a woman writing about douchey vampires gets her comeuppance.



A man is seduced by the lamia in "Ladies of the Scale" by Bob Morgan Jr.



Lee Pletzer's "Teeth" will make you think twice about taking your son fishing again.



A boy gets revenge on abusive adults in "Devil Inside" by William Cook.



We go on a Lovecraftian journey with Jason Warden's amazing story, "Once Seen."



K.K.'s "The Visitation" will have you shuddering.



Mark Edward Hall's "The Fear" makes a case against hunting for a lost relative.



Joseph Mulak's "Wounds" evil deeds for the right reasons.



Angel Leigh McCoy's "The Barnes Family Reunion"



One of my favorite parts of the book is the unrestrained gore, but if psychological is your thing, you'll also find compelling stories within. When this book comes out, any horror fan would be a fool not to get a copy ~ A. R. Braun



The one thing that stands out about this anthology is that no two stories are the same. Yes, they are horror, but each one brings in a new tasty scary delight. Triskaideka Books has done an amazing job of bringing all this talent into one anthology. There is no anthology out such as this and one that needs to be on everyone’s bookshelf at one time or another. Jumping into this world of darkness only brings forward the most compelling and interesting tales seen in a long time. It is worth the read and worth keeping for years to come ~ Shells Walter, Sonar4



More info: Avaliable here
Paperback Release date: 23-04-10. Only $9.99 (two week special). 12.99 after that.
E-version available here for only $1.99

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How old should one be to see a horror film?

I was thinking about my earlier post where I'd said a minor's brain isn't ready to handle uncensored horror until he or she is twenty-one, and if that would apply to movie actors and actresses such as the kids that starred in The Children. I don't think so. I mean, are you going to let him or her make the movie and then tell him or her they can't watch it? That's ludicrous! That's hypocrisy! There were some actresses in the past, like when Brooke Shields made Alice Sweet Alice, that couldn't watch it though she'd starred in it because it scared her too much. When I was 18 and my little brother was 13,I remember sneaking him into Friday the 13th 3D after I'd been severely warned not to do so, plus sneaking out of my window at 4 a.m. to go see The Boogeyman when I was 16. I watched The Amityville Horror at the theater when I was 14. Watching those films never really bothered me.

So I guess this would only apply to the written word, which is always scarier and more psychologically disturbing than the movie. I'll have to still stand firm and suggest one not read this wacky, uncensored horror shit till one is no longer a minor.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lee Pletzers's novel, The Game

I just finished reading Lee Pletzers's novel, The Game, the ultimate horror novel for gamers. Not only was it packed with virtual horror excitement, but also with characters' situations that felt real. We get inside the head of a junkie hooker, an underage girl being raped by her coke-head mom's boyfriend and her subsequent horror at her little brother's abduction by the nemesis, a woman not human, and her huge demon slave ready to beat anyone into the dust who goes against his master's wishes. I've never read a novel like this before, and I definitely recommend it. Buy it when it comes out (it's not yet released) and you won't be sorry!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Collaborating With Another Author

I'd always thought collaborating with another author would be a drag. How many author collaborative books have you read that kicked ass? Not many? Same here! I thought of how I'd loved Elizabeth Massie's short stories, but not Dreams of the Dark (Dark Shadows) with Stephen M. Rainey. I thought of Black House by King and Straub, which I didn't care for. In fact, I couldn't think of one single collaboration book I liked except for Skipp and Spector's The Cleanuup. This would be a failed venture, right?

Wrong!

I've been collaborting on a story with Ro Van Saint, and it's the best story I've ever taken part in. Plus, it overcomes what I think is the worst part of being an author--the loneliness. I'd never written anything so sick in my life! And if there aren't many great collabs, then why not rise to the challenge?

So if you get the chance, definitely collaborate. You won't regret it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How old should one be to read uncensored horror?

I guess it's time to tackle this subject. Of course it would be illegal to pimp my stories out to underage kids--doing that wouldn't even cross my mind--but I think one should be twenty-one before one reads uncensored horror.

Why, do you ask?

Because I don't think a minor's mind can handle this shit. It amazes me that I can read it all the time and not go crazy (unless I'm already crazy, which is entirely possible, lol). And the Leisure Horror novels go even farther than Stephen King does. I don't want to be responsible for anyone losing their mind, having a nervous breakdown, etcetera (although abusing caffeine's probably behind the latter).

Instead of the Twilight saga, I recommend worthy horror stories without cussing and sex by authors like H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson and Algernon Blackwood. That way you're getting trained (if you're a writer) or entertained by quality shit, not douchey crap.

Just something to think about. I guess if certain parents let their kids have uncensored horror, then you got away with it, kiddo. But I don't want to be responsible for it.

A. R.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Masters of Horror anthology

Lucky enough to have been invited into the Masters of Horror writing organization, I've been asked to review the Masters of Horror anthology--not the same Masters of Horror on Showtime. I gladly oblige:

This was a entertaining read from beginning to end. The stories lurking within truly creeped me out on so many levels. There's still a bit of proofreading to be done, but what published book is typoless? Sixteen authors contributed to this antho' guaranteed to rob you of sleep at night by bringing you the nightmare you've most feared...

The first three stories are excellent. I especially loved Carole Gill's "Truth Hurts," where a woman writing about douchey vampires gets her comeuppance. A man is seduced by the lamia in "Ladies of the Scale" by Bob Morgan Jr., and Lee Pletzer's "Teeth" will make you think twice about taking your son fishing again. A boy gets revenge on abusive adults in "Devil Inside" by William Cook, and we go on a Lovecraftian journey with Jason Warden's amazing story, "Once Seen." K.K.'s "The Visitation" will have you shuddering, and Mark Edward Hall's "The Fear" makes a case against hunting for a lost relative. Other great, creepy tales are "Wounds" by Joseph Mulak and "The Barnes Family Reunion" by Angel Leigh McCoy.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the unrestrained gore, but if psychological is your thing, you'll also find compelling stories within. When this book comes out, any horror fan would be a fool not to get a copy.

A. R. Braun