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, 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, 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."