Category Archives: Writing

2013: The Parting Glass

Now that 2013 is officially in the rearview, I’m not as hung over as I expected to be, but I’ve long known I’m a social drinker and when the party is small, so are my drinks. The party last night was just that—small—and in a way, quite reflective of the year I’ve had.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing.

At any rate, I know a lot of my fellow writers are doing a “this is what I did with my writing” or a “this is what I’m going to do with my writing” post for the New Year and this is kind of like that, sort of, in a weird way.

What do you mean by weird, Chris?

Well, in 2013 I didn’t do shit all in regards to my writing. Oh, I wrote things; I just didn’t publish them. I went to some conventions and sold a few copies of my first novel, Necromancer, and met some cool folks out on the road. The awesome Nelson W. Pyles podcasted a few of my short and flash fiction pieces on The Wicked Library, but that was the extent of where my writing went the last 12 months.

Halfway through the year I freaked out about this. Of course, by the time June/July came around, I’d only subbed one piece (which ended up shortlisted and ultimately rejected). After the PMPress Writer’s Retreat at the end of July, I subbed two more pieces, and then another near the end of August. All three were (obviously) rejected by the respective editors. Looking back now, at the start of the new year, I’m more like fuck it. It is what it is. I did write, I just didn’t publish, and it’s about the former, not the latter.

One thing that I did do was get back into reading novels. Before some of you have a conniption over a writer “not reading,” let me explain: for the past several years, I’d read almost exclusively short fiction as the editor for Title Goes Here: and it was awesome; I was able to read and publish writers like Alison Littlewood, Paul Anderson, and Alexis A. Hunter. But it didn’t leave much time for novel reading. Sure, I’d squeeze in a couple here and there (and those were familiar books I’d read before), but not like I used to read. This year, I’m happy to say I put to rest 32 books over the last 12 months. The only book I attempted to read and didn’t finish was The Talisman by King and Straub. Sad to say this is like my third time trying, though I did make it further than any other attempt.

I will finish that book this year.

But, here’s the list of books I did read. You know, for the curious.

01)  Back Roads & Frontal Lobes by Brady Allen – 5/5
02)  They Thirst by Robert McCammon – 5/5
03)  Lucky Man by Michael J Fox – 3/5
04)  Phantoms by Dean Koontz – 4/5
05)  The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub –
06)  Throttle by Stephen King & Joe Hill – 3/5
07)  Quarantined by Joe McKinney – 3/5
08)  The Hunt by Joseph Williams – 4/5
09)  The Rising by Brian Keene – 2/5
10)  Coraline by Neil Gaiman – 3/5
11)  Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – 4/5
12)  Pavlov’s Dogs by D.L. Snell & Thom Brannan – 3/5
13)  Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar – 3/5
14)  (dis)Comfort Food by Brad Carter – 5/5
15)  Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist – 4/5
16)  Demons, Dolls, and Milkshakes by Nelson W. Pyles – 5/5
17)  A Trail in Blood by J. David Anderson – 5/5
18)  Losing Touch by Christian A. Larsen – 5/5
19)  Draculas by Crouch, Kilborn, Strand, Wilson – 3/5
20)  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 4/5
21)  War of the Worlds by HG Wells – 2/5
22)  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – 4/5
23)  1984 by George Orwell – 4/5
24)  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 4/5
25)  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – 3/5
26)  Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – 3/5
27)  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – 3/5
28)  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 4/5
29)  The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin – 3/5
30)  Children of Men by PD James – 3/5
31)  Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand – 3/5
32)  The Hand of God by Tony Acree – 4/5
33)  The Wolf’s Moon by Patrick Jones – 2/5

I started building a reading list for this year a couple weeks ago, which includes several old King books I haven’t read in a decade or so, plus some other things I found on the bookshelves here I hadn’t read. I also received four Jonathan Maberry books for Christmas. They’re on the list, too. I can’t even speak to the number of books I have on my Kindle. I’ll read some of those, too.

I watched many movies in 2013. I can’t say I’m completely proud of this, but it’s a fact, and I do love movies. The number I watched is about double the number of books I read, but this list does include the few movies I saw at the theater and Netflix movies. Here’s that list, too, for the curious folk.

01)  Diary of a Nymphomaniac – 4/5
02)  Apartment 143 – 3/5
03)  Sector 7 – 3/5 (Korean, subtitled)
04)  Trollhunter – 4/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
05)  The Tall Man – 3/5
06)  Dead Season – 2/5
07)  In the Spider’s Web – 1/5
08)  Good Neighbours – 3/5
09)  The Rig – 2/5
10)  The Lost Tribe – 1/5
11)  Airborne – 3/5
12)  The Innkeepers – 3/5
13)  The Devil Inside – 2/5
14)  Black Death – 3/5
15)  Cashback – 3/5
16)  Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness – 2/5
17)  Intruders – 3/5
18)  Rango – 3/5
19)  The Day – 2/5
20)  Dead Snow -3/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
21)  Chernobyl Diaries – 2/5
22)  The Thirst: Blood War – 2/5
23)  Red: Werewolf Hunter -2/5
24)  Cleopatra’s Second Husband – 2/5
25)  Pontypool – 4/5
26)  Total Recall (2012) – 3/5
27)  Jack the Giant Slayer – 3/5
28)  Evil Dead (2013) – 4/5
29)  Byzantium – 3/5
30)  The Lords of Salem – 3/5
31)  Battleship – 2/5
32)  Chronicle -2/5
33)  TMNT (2007, animated) – 3/5
34)  Behind the Candelabra – 4/5
35)  Extinction: The G.M.O. Chronicles – 2/5
36)  The Last Stand – 3/5
37)  Sanctum – 2/5
38)  Hanna – 2/5
39)  Cowboys vs. Aliens – 2/5
40)  Darkwolf – 1/5
41)  Wrath of the Titans – 2/5
42)  Trip to the Moon (1902) – 3/5
43)  The Great Train Robbery (1903) – 3/5
44)  World War Z – 3/5
45)  Frankenstein (1931) – 3/5
46)  The Public Enemy (1931) – 3/5
47)  This is the End – 3/5
48)  The Heat – 3/5
49)  Rear Window – 4/5
50)  His Girl Friday – 3/5
51)  Storage 24 – 2/5
52)  The Frankenstein Theory – 2/5
53)  Oklahoma! – 2/5
54)  Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – 4/5
55)  Pacific Rim – 2/5
56)  The Wicker Tree – 2/5
57)  Spiders – 2/5
58)  The Conjuring – 3/5
59)  State of Emergency – 3/5
60)  Compliance – 4/5
61)  Shame – 4/5
62)  R.I.P.D. – 3/5
63)  Dredd – 3/5
64)  Infected – 2/5
65)  Stevie – 3/5
66)  Fatso (Norwegian, subtitled) – 4/5
67)  Battledogs – 2/5
68)  Apollo 18 – 3/5
69)  John Dies at the End – 4/5
70)  War of the Dead – 2/5
71)  War of the Worlds (1953) – 2/5
72)  The Sessions – 4/5
73)  Frankenstein (2005) – 3/5
74)  Mimic – 3/5
75)  Children of Men – 4/5
76)  Paranormal Activity 4 – 2/5
77)  The Possession – 2/5
78) War of the Worlds (2005) – 3/5

For the extra curious, you can read my post on how I derive my ratings here. If you don’t care, don’t click.

Overall, 2013 was a decent year for me and I’m happy in the growth I made as a writer. Personally, it was up and down. Probably the best part was finding out that grandfatherhood (BAM! just made up that word) here in a few months (March), while the worst part was fighting against depression and lethargy. I’m used to these spells just not for this long.

Funny truth…

On 12/31, before the drinking started, I did this Facebook “mental age test” and answered the questions honestly (c’mon, you know you fudge those fucking quiz answers to skew the results to whatever you think they should be) and my mental age was 16. Those of you who know me are aware I’m on the far side of 16 x 2. I don’t feel 16; I certainly don’t act 16 (though my wife may disagree with that). I believe it’s a sign I still hold a somewhat romantic and optimistic view of life and people, while masticating the shit sandwich I have every day for lunch.

Strangely, though, I’m okay with that.

Good night and joy be with you all.

Hello, 2014.

Writing: Though it not be written down, yet forget not that I am an ass…

So, as some people know, I recently had a birthday. The number is only important to me and anyone waiting for me to die. Hopefully, that’s not many of you, but hey, a man never can tell. Sad face fact is that I’m worth a lot more dead than alive, and a far worse sad face fact is that’s probably true for most of you reading this. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the American dream at work.

I digress, however, from the point of this post, which, as you can surmise by the title, is that yes, I AM AN ASS. I realize that isn’t news (at least, not shocking news), but it’s still a truth that I must face each and every day. Sometimes more, depending on how many times I look in a mirror. But holy fuck, I’m digressing again.

On point, the talented and insanely fucking smart Jen Sylvia (seriously, people, follow her blog, her twitter, and her other blog, and her other twitter…) reviewed Necromancer over at Nerdspan earlier this year. She reblogged the review last week on her website (yeah, the one I just TOLD YOU TO FOLLOW) and, being wrapped up in my berfday preparations, I completely missed it then and just caught it tonight. Hence, though it not be written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.

And, Ms. Sylvia, I am looking forward to your interview, sober or drunk.

Writing: Because, Thank You

This isn’t going to be a long blog post (as some of mine can be), but it’s certainly a personal one.

Last weekend, the pretty awesome (okay, to be fair, he’s more than pretty awesome) Eric Beebe (owner of Post Mortem Press) held a writer’s retreat and I had the fortunate pleasure of attending. There were a dozen writers, some brought spouses, other brought spouses and kids, and some just brought themselves. All told, there were more than a few people milling about.

Now, people who know me (which is probably everyone reading this blog, actually) understand that I’m pretty much an introvert until I get to know you or until I get drunk, so the idea of attending a retreat was pretty fucking daunting. When it was first brought up, I said I’d like to go, but in the back of my head I was thinking, “If it happens, I’ll bow out and let someone else fill the spot.”

My wife told me I was an idiot. She was far more colorful than that, but idiot is what she meant.

I paid and I went.

It was a super great gathering of authors, a giant creative machine of like-minded people, and just fun. I don’t say that about too many social situations, but I can about this.

It’s my distinct pleasure to be a part of this Post Mortem Press family and I give a hearty thank you to Eric for having me and all the other authors. I’ve learned a lot from Eric and the rest of the PMPress people, came out of my shell a bit more, and I have better tools to continue writing and selling my work. A simple blog post thank you isn’t really enough, but it’s all I have. An extra thank you goes out to the special guests present: Gary Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, and Tim Waggoner. My respect grows each time I’m lucky enough to meet and talk with them.

And who was there? Well, these people, and it was excellent to see some of them again and meet others for the first time. Check out their websites and work at the links below:

Special Guest: Gary A. Braunbeck

Special Guest: Lucy Snyder

Special Guest: Tim Waggoner

Nelson Pyles

Kenneth W. Cain

Jessica McHugh

KT Jayne

Paul Anderson

J. David Anderson

Georgina Morales

Brian Dobbins

Brady Allen

Elizabeth Jenike

Writing/Opinion: Professionalism

I want to spend a minute today to talk about professionalism. If you know me, that probably sounds pretty funny, considering I don’t hesitate to drop the f-bomb into any conversation at a moment’s notice (in fact, there’s several in this blog post). I don’t stop to think about the words coming out of my mouth before I say them. Some people term that verbal diarrhea. And that’s all true; I freely admit to being one of the biggest dicks I know (I also freely admit to being one of the nicest people I know, but my hypocrisy knows no bounds). I’m opinionated and I pretty much disagree with 98% of the rejections I receive. Of course my fucking story was a perfect fit and I have no idea why it wasn’t chosen.

Despite my personality quirks described above, very few publishers or editors I’ve worked with know that about me. And until they read that line above, they probably thought their rejection letters were taken with a smile and a nod and possibly an “Oh, well. Better luck next time, Chris.”

Not so, not really, because if you’re a writer, rejection stings. Sure, eventually you get to that “better luck” point (sometimes it’s in 5 seconds, other times 5 years), but just like every other aspect of life, you’re judged mostly by your visible and public reactions to things. So you got a rejection letter. Not cool. Do you blast back at the editor/publisher with a “Hey, you’re a fucking tool!” or a “You’ll regret this because I’m the next Stephen King!” email? Or do you write back with something nicer, something like, “Would you mind telling me why my story didn’t make the cut?”

If you answered yes, keep reading.

Professionalism seems to be a lost art. And, by the way, professionalism is different than being polite; you can be polite and still be completely unprofessional. Professionalism goes beyond just saying please and thank you, as I’ll illustrate below.

I work in corporate America and it sucks. I’m not going to lie (nor am I going to say that’s a very professional thing to say, as it’s not) but it is a professional environment. There are standards that the company I work for must abide by and therefore, in my job capacity, there are standards that I must abide by. If I don’t abide by these markers set forth by my employer, what happens? My boss gets all pissy with me; I get reprimanded, possibly shit-canned. More than that, in my particular industry (which is heavily regulated), my employer can be fined and prohibited from doing business in certain geographic areas.

Now you’re probably wondering what all that has to do with being a writer. Well, consider those standards as a market’s submission guidelines. This means you better damn well read and follow them. Keep in mind, this is your reaction to those guidelines, not an action you’re taking (Your specific action in this scenario was writing your story, since you don’t have to send it anywhere). I read a lot of these blog posts where it’s “common courtesy” to follow a market’s guidelines. My response? FUCK THAT. It’s not a courtesy; it’s a requirement. By not following those guidelines, you’re being unprofessional. It’s not impolite to ignore a market’s request for 12 pt Courier, it’s fucking unprofessional. I don’t care if you hate Courier with a passion, if it leapt off the page and ate your mother’s face off, if the market wants Courier, it’s CTRL-A, change font, SAVE AS…

During my time editing Title Goes Here:, I’d have those people who wouldn’t read the guidelines and submit some of the most off the wall shit; they were rejected, without being read. And here’s a further little note: I kept a spreadsheet of submissions. Title, author name, and, if a piece was rejected, the reasons why. We weren’t a huge magazine, reading only about 700 subs a period, so I felt it was nice to remember people if they subbed again. But, I also knew if your first submission was some deformed version of our guidelines, too. You could be certain I was looking closely at your new baby, too.

Another thing: make sure your cover letter is in complete sentences, has proper capitalization and grammar, and addresses the things the market wants addressed. Usually that’s story title, word count, sometimes a brief list of publications, and a bio, in case you’re accepted.

Notice what information isn’t asked for up there?

Anyone?

Bueller?

Bueller?

Your name.

But that doesn’t mean don’t sign your email. You have no idea how many cover letters I’d get that looked like this (yes, this is an actual cover letter):

hi, here’s my story. let me know if its good enuff to be published. thanks.

Okay, I get it… we’re on the internet, dealing with something as impersonal as email, but that’s even more reason to make your communications professional. Hopefully, the above example illustrates the difference between polite and professional. I mean, they said hi and thanks, so really, that’s polite enough. But the professionalism is important here because what if the story is on the cusp and it needs some editing, which means working with that author to get the story where it needs to be. I couldn’t imagine any further email communication with this person. First impressions count.

And, lately, I have seen some markets now having “don’t forget to include your name” in their guidelines. This saddens me. It’s unreal that we’re so unprofessional that we need to tell people to sign their fucking name to a letter.

The other things that fall into that professionalism category are, like I stated above, not going back to the publisher/editor after being rejected, especially if your comeback is snark or ignorant in any way. You can be, and usually are, forgiven for asking for feedback, but don’t turn to being dick if A) you don’t like the feedback or B) you’re told no.

Reactions, people. It’s all about your reactions to these situations.

They also extend to personal meetings, though less so. Those personal interactions is where polite really comes into play. I’ve met editors who’ve rejected me, and it’s never, “Hey, you fucker, you rejected me…” it’s always “Hi, nice to finally meet you.” Shake hands, smile, and be personable since it’s unlikely you’re wearing a pinstriped suit, polo, or even khakis and a tie. Speak well, be as well groomed as possible (sometimes, in convention land, this isn’t as easy as it sounds), and try not to be drunk (again, a feat not as easy as it sounds).

Look at it this way: every time you submit a story to a market, you’re applying for a job. You want compensation for your work, which means you need to give that market not only a story worth publishing, but also an author worth representing. The writing “industry” isn’t huge and publishers/editors talk to each other. They listen, they hear your name, and you want them to hear your name in a positive light. You don’t want to be “that writer” who gets the thumbs down chat, the mockery, and placed on that “watch list” because you didn’t provide a professional package.

Think before you submit. Proofread. Remember those lessons from way back when about spelling, grammar, punctuation. Say please and thank you. Sign your name.

Bottom line is that to be taken seriously, then you have to be serious. That extends beyond putting your ass in a chair and writing as best you can. Every contact you have with an editor or publisher should be as clean as possible, professional, and top-notch.

Questions, comments, discussion are always welcome.

Writing: Writing Groups

Oh my goodness, it’s another blog post! Forever and a day after the last one!

I figured I’d throw down something that falls under a different category than “Mr. Brown’s fucking opinion” like, maybe, writing. Considering writing is what I spend 85% of my time away from corporate America doing, I may as well write about writing. I hope that’s not anything like the old adage “Those who can’t do, teach…”

Anyway, I’m moving on now.

I wanted to start some discussion fodder on writing groups.

I’ve been a part of online and offline groups, critique groups and “teaching” groups, but never an actual reading group. By definition, though, I don’t think we can count those, but for the record, I do know several writers who participate in them for the book discussions after. They say it helps with plot and character development, pacing, but more importantly, it puts them in touch with what the average reader thinks of any given book, and therefore it’s a litmus test for their own fiction; they’re able to take the keynotes from those talks and edit their manuscripts to better fit a narrower/broader/whatever type of audience. But still, the primary goals of those groups, unlike a writing group, is to read. A writing group puts its focus on the craft by the majority of the members.

The major thrust of the blog post is whether writing groups are advantageous.

My personal opinion is yes, absolutely.

With that out in the open, I must confess that I belong to four of them. Two are online, two are offline, and each one gets a different amount of my time. The offline groups get 99% of my group time, but that wasn’t always the case.

When I first started to write with the added desire of publication, I didn’t know any other writers. This was way back before my first kid was born, so about 13 years ago. An online group was a perfect fit and I found my way to Zoetrope, ran by the magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story. Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, in turn, founded the magazine. It was pretty much a straight critique group where you had to review five works before you could post one of your own. The writer maintained that ratio to continue putting work up to be reviewed by others. Otherwise, the group was pointless, since its sole purpose was feedback. Sure, they had forums and writing caves that you could invite friends to, but Zoetrope’s main focus was getting critique and feedback. And if your piece was rated high enough, possible publication in the magazine, too. Not a bad deal overall.

I had good experiences in there, lots and lots of good feedback, but even more so, it was an ego boost. To hear other writers say “Hey man, this is pretty good…” and then go into the things they liked and didn’t like was awesome. It’s also where I learned to critique, to give positive remarks along with places of improvement. It helped me to read critically, because that was the sole purpose of being there.

Many reviews I see on Amazon and Goodreads today aren’t critical reviews, but taste reviews. And yes, taste is a valid part of any review, yet it shouldn’t be the entire basis of the review. But that, my friends, is a blog post for another time.

I recently joined Scribophile, recommended to me by Alexis A. Hunter. It works on the same basic principle as Zoetrope did (using points, I believe), but I’m just not active over there. It’s nothing against the site or the people (Alexis is super talented, for one, and super nice) but more due to a lack of time to read and review so and so many other people’s work. Maybe one day, if I’m not killing myself 10 hours a day with corporate America, I can become more active.

I also belong to a couple of offline writing groups. These two groups are vastly different, but that’s fine with me. It’s like genre or style in your fiction, you know? It never hurts to experiment, spread your wings, and see what’s going on.

After my first son was born, I went on a writing hiatus for the first five years of his life. I got my first corporate job and started two weeks before he was born, endured a painful 18 week training program, was never home with him as a baby. It fucking sucked. I’d had three stories published at that time (Threshold and Go Beyond) and a third (Prior Record: A Christmas Tale) scheduled for publication the following year. I’d just started, but I quit anyway.

Then, after having moved up slightly in the corporate arena, I met some writers in the company and we formed a group. We’d meet once a week, and one of us would have prepared a discussion topic to go over with the others. Such topics included character development, plot, dialogue, and all things in between. It was a teaching group, but we’d also trade word and give “ink” when asked. So, it was also part critique, but mostly the teaching. It helped put laser focus back on the writing portion and man, how I’d missed it.

Between my kid’s birth and then, I’d kept a notebook with titles, ideas, a few short stories I’d written, but what I really had was a trunk folder full of all the shit I’d started five and six years prior. I cranked that trunk open and pulled out the musty and dusty pieces.

They sucked, in my opinion, but that didn’t deter me, and I went back to work on them. This was back in 2007 or so. I revised, rewrote, reworked, received feedback, did it all again. And here, five years later, almost all of them have been published now. I have three left from that group (one of which I’m in love with and can’t find it a good home) and the other two, well, we’ll see what happens.

The teaching each other, even though none of us teach, is still a great thing. You learn how other writers approach the craft and you can then pull what’s useful into your palette of tools.

So, for the more curious folks out there, the group meets every other Saturday for two hours. We start with a timed writing prompt, go into our presentation for the day, and do any work/discussion associated with it. The last bit of the meeting we usually share news, publications, work, whatever is on our minds in relation to our writing.

The other group I belong to is quite the opposite of that one. They meet monthly (as of right now, though they’re piloting a bi-monthly meeting as well) and it’s much more of a discussion group. We bring topics, trouble stories, and the conversation just flows from there. Ideas bounce around, flow, and this goes on for several hours and the enthusiasm never wanes. Work is exchanged, critiqued, handed back.

It’s my opinion that talking and working with others writers in these capacities is beyond golden; you can’t put a price tag on surrounding yourself with intelligent, creative people, especially ones who write. Not to mention, writing is a solitary thing to do, and groups bring socialization. I should stress, since they’re all writers, that socialization is far less awkward than say going to a bar or some party.

I guess that makes writing groups priceless, eh?

Who else out there belongs to one? What kind of structure do you guys have? How beneficial do you find it?

I also want to hear from people who don’t belong, or who have and didn’t find them useful. What were the reasons you didn’t like about the ones you tried?

Talk to me, people!

Writing/Opinion: TX Frightmare and Conventions

So, I should be writing or editing or doing something productive, but instead I’m doing a blog post.

“What about,” you ask?

“That’s a good question,” I reply.

“Well, considering you were supposed to do one at the beginning of April and didn’t, it’s at least valid.”

“True enough.”

“Well? Get on with it…”

Yeah, yeah. This isn’t the blog post I was going to put up back then (that one is only half written, actually, and involves writer’s groups). This post is about Texas Frightmare and conventions, so it’s partially on topic when it comes to writing.

It’ll be fairly brief, I hope. I don’t have a lot to say on the matter other than I had an excellent time at TX Frightmare. The publisher, Post Mortem Press, sold a ton of books (we even sold out of Necromancers), I drank myself almost to oblivion Saturday night, and spent four of my vacation days in a car. It’s a pretty long drive from Ohio to Texas (even with a layover in The Lou to drop off a kid with my parents).

I met some cool folks (new friends, horror fans, celebrities), watched a very early screening of Neil Jordan’s vamp flick Byzantium (I think it comes out end of June), and spent way too much fucking money (hotel breakfast buffet was $14.00 if that’s an indication).

As far as conventions go, while I find it awesome to “see” celebrities, I’m not the kind of person who goes up and pays for the picture and autograph. Don’t think I’m knocking people who do (I’m not), it’s just not my bag. That being said, I don’t shy away from conversing with them when the opportunity presents itself and, for me, relating to them on that personal level, that “Hey, how you doing? Good convention so far?” playing field is the best.

Where is all this leading?

Well, it’s really for the other small press authors, I guess. I think it’s important to realize that while these conventions are mostly monetary vampires that will drain a bank account faster than Dracula eating Mina (picture that any way you want), it’s vital to show your face. It’s necessary to be there. Not at all of them, of course, but as many as we’re able. It’s another way to build (dare I say it?) a fan base for your work. Isn’t the key to investment diversity? So why shouldn’t diversity be the key to investing in yourself as well?

I haven’t had much luck w/social media or this damned blog (though I appreciate all of you who do read it), but hopefully continuing this mixed bag of everything will pay off in the end?

Authors, editors, others… what say you?

Blog Hop! C. Bryan Brown Edition

The estimable Nelson W. Pyles tagged me to answer some questions about myself and my upcoming work for this thing called Blog Hop. It’s your standard interview type questions, but you know, I don’t mind talking about myself (most of the time), so I’m gonna answer them. Just for you.

Before I do, gotta give props to Nelson for being Nelson. And awesome. If you haven’t checked out his podcast, The Wicked Library, where he does readings of stories authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jessica McHugh, and yours truly, then you’re doing your ears a disservice. Not to mention your intellect and that part of you that likes to be scared, horrified, and, in some cases, disgusted.

At the end of this thing, I’ll tag a few more writers and you can hop on over there in a week or so and find out what they have to say.

Ready?

No?

Too bad.

Blog Hop: What are you working on right now?

Me: I have so many irons in the fire that it’s hard to pin down any single item, but I think it’s that way with every author. But, in an effort to make the rest of this sound interesting, I’m working on something of a vampire apocalypse novel, which is the first in a (planned) trilogy.

Blog Hop: How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Me: It differs for a few reasons. One, the vampires don’t sparkle, which pulls it out of the “urban fantasy” and “tween” genres/markets, which is where most of the vampire fiction is at the moment. But it also differs because it takes something that’s become a popular trope in those genres and asks the questions “How?” and “Why?” in regards to arriving at a certain point.

Blog Hop: What experiences have influenced you?

Me: When I was ten (or eleven, my memory that far back gets fuzzy) my mother pulled me out of bed to watch the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” because it scared the shit out of her. I watched Freddy drag Tina across the ceiling, blood flying across the room, all while her boyfriend watched helplessly. From that moment on, I was more or less hooked on horror. Plus, my parents never really censored what I read growing up, so I’d pick up the books they were done with, which were invariably horror.

Blog Hop: Why do you write what you do?

Me: Two very simple reasons. 1) Murder is illegal and 2) To explore and better understand my own feelings toward the world I live in. Sorry, readers, but I don’t write for you. I write for me. I attempt publication for you.

Blog Hop: How does your writing process work?

Me: I start with an idea, a theme, or an image of something and build around that. If it’s a short story, I’ll just write. Novels get outlined, character sketches, timelines. As far as the actual writing goes, there’s a 1st draft, then a 2nd draft. After that, the piece is read by “readers” and I do a 3rd draft based on feedback (if any). Then I have a few “writers” whom I trust and they get a final look. I’ll do a 4th edit (if necessary).

Blog Hop: What is the hardest part about writing?

Me: It used to be putting my ass in the chair every day to write. So I stopped trying. Now I devote several hours each day to writing, editing, or reading. It works better for me to focus on one of the three elements of writing instead of all three in a single day. Now my biggest issue is turning off my inner editor during 1st drafts.

Blog Hop: What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

Me: Comic books. I’d love to write a comic book. But, as I can’t draw, I have to find someone who enjoys my work and that I can work with for an extended period of time.

Blog Hop: Who are the authors you most admire?

Me: I pretty much admire any author who writes and submits his or her work, who doesn’t quit after being rejected, and isn’t afraid to say, “Yeah, I can still learn from someone,” but then turn around and say, “Hey, I’ve been here before, let me help you out.” Too many authors nowadays get something published (book, short story, whatever) and all of a sudden they’re a gift to you and every person who aspires to write and publish.

I’m going to namedrop here, which I don’t normally do, but if you want to see a writer worth admiring, then you need to meet Jonathan Maberry. Listen to some of his interviews and how he elevates not only the craft, but everyone he works with and talks about.

Blog Hop: Who are new authors to watch out for?

Me: There’s so many. And I do mean, so many. Just a few that I’ve read their work are Alexis A. Hunter, Kenneth W. Cain, Joe Williams, Brad Carter, Craig Hallam, Brady Allen, Chris Larsen, Lydia Peever, Nelson W. Pyles. Some of these people are double and triple threats between the podcasting, doing graphic art, and other things.

Blog Hop: What scares you?

Me: My own death. But beyond that, failing my kids in any capacity. I’m also not a fan of any sort of public speaking.

And there you have it! That concludes my issue of Blog Hop Magazine! Time for me to tag three writers and so I’m going to give you over to one of those “new” authors I mentioned, Alexis A. Hunter. And in a twist, I’m going to also tag two of my “cabin” mates in this year’s Camp NaNo: Rochelle Bradley and Raven Hawk.