Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Story coming to EDF

My flash story "The Way the Sunlight Lays Upon Her Hair" is coming to Every Day Fiction on April 14.

EDF is one of my favorite markets, so I'm glad to sell them another story. It's been a while.

And I've got the distinguishment of having the longest title for the month of April!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

No. 22 - Lady Chatterley's Lover

by D. H. Lawrence

Started: March 28
Finished: April 11

Notes: One of the many from my list of books I've been meaning to read. Apparently this one was so titillating that the complete version was banned in the U.S. until a judge's decision in the 1950s or thereabouts. This is the full version.

Mini review: Okay, it's easy to see why this book has stirred up so much controversy over the years. Yep, there are quite intense sex scenes, several of them. I wouldn't classify them as pornography or obscene, but there is some strong language here. This book isn't for the prudent. However, all that being said, there is some good stuff here. The basic plot didn't do much for me, but there's a lot here concerning mankind's growing industrialization that I found of interest.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No. 21 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

by James Joyce

Started: March 21
Finished: March 28

Notes: In an effort to expand my writing and reading horizons, I'm turning to this literary author. Besides, he was Irish, and it's just been St. Patty's Day. This semi-biographical fiction novel was first published in 1916.

Mini review: There's some genius here. There's lots of boring reading, too, but there's some fine needles among the haystack. Basically, this is the story of a boy growing into a young man in Ireland and his bouts with religion, sexuality, philosophy, history and more. Eventually he seems to settle for a sort of secularist agnosticism in his beliefs, but he leaves open a mental door that he may come back to the church someday. The chapter mostly about religion contained a priest's description of hell that is absolutely the best description of hell I've ever read, even better than Milton's. What I enjoyed most about this book was that it opened my mind to a new way of telling a story, sort of a literary stream-of-consciousness writing that shows up from time to time in this novel; this helped me most with a story idea of my own I've had in mind for some time, though I didn't know quite how to tell the story. Now I do. And I have Joyce to thank for it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Writing discovery

Am I becoming something new to myself?

Working on my latest novel, I've discovered a few things. First, the novel has become something akin to Southern literature (though I use the word "literature" loosely ... I'm no Thomas Wolfe).

Southern literature is something I've dipped into with a few stories, but nothing I've ever considered seriously. I've always been a fantasy or horror writer. But I'm discovering I'm enjoying writing this novel, "Looking for America," quite a bit.

The writing is flowing ... differently. Yes, I still sometimes dread sitting down to the keyboard, but once I do, everything seems to come easily. More easily than anything else I've written in some time.

I'm also having fun breaking rules and not following stock setups and stock characters and the like (or, at least, it seems that way to me). This writing is just different, lackadaisical in some ways. There doesn't always have to be action, action, action. Every single conversation doesn't have to be all-important. But everything still has to move the plot forward.

Maybe this is my thing, my niche. Time will tell. Whether it is or not, I'm enjoying myself.

And, because this novel is so different from most of my other writing, I'm using a pen name. No, I won't tell you what it is. At least not yet. Let's see if I can get this thing written and published.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

No. 20 - Boxing Stories

by Robert E. Howard

edited by Chris Gruber

Started: March 14
Finished: March 21

Notes: As I just finished a biographical book about this author, I thought it only fitting I tear into some of his fiction for a while. This is a collection of Howard's boxing stories, which is a first for me because I've only been familiar with his Sword and Sorcery material, which is what he's best remembered for. Anyway, I've always found Howard to be a heck of a writer, and it'll be interesting to read something different from him.

Mini review: If the cover had not said these were Robert E. Howard stories, I would never have known he was the author. Myself being only familiar with his S&S stories before now, found this quite a delight in seeing the man could write in quite different styles. It's still great writing, though most of these tales were written when he was in his early 20s. I think his best stuff was yet to come, but again, there's quality writing here. I would never have thought Howard could write with such humanity. And comedy! A good number of these stories were quite funny. Another thing that surprised me was the patriotism showed in a good number of these tales, not something I would have suspected him of (not that I thought Howard was unpatriotic). Anyone who has read only Howard's Conan stories has done themselves a disservice; give some of his non-fantasy readings a try.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Latest writing project

After spending the last several months working on short stories, I've begun a new novel. I'm only a few thousand words into it at this point, but I've got the majority of it planned out already and the characters are alive in my head. It might turn out to be only a novella, but time will tell.

I'm giving myself a lot of free rein with this one. I'm trying not to second-guess myself on anything I write, and to trust myself as a writer. At least on the first draft. We'll see what happens with later drafts.

As with any writing project, this one brings new challenges. For this project, the biggest challenge for me will be that this one is a mainstream novel, possibly even literary. Yes, I'm staying away from any speculative elements.

This is a novel I've had in mind for some while now. It's something I want to write for my father, who is no longer young. I want to at least finish this while he is still around and kicking.

Publishing? That would be great. But if not, I'll move on to the next project.

I'm not giving up on fantasy and horror, but I am taking a break. I think I'm kind of burnt out on fantasy at the moment, mainly because I've spent so much of the last four years writing fantasy.

Also, my reading is going to take more of a literary turn for a while. This should help me keep my momentum on the current project.

The title? So far, it's "Looking for America."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No. 19 - One Who Walked Alone -
Robert E. Howard: The Final Years

by Novalyne Price Ellis


Started: March 10
Finished: March 14

Notes: I first became aware of this book a few years ago when I discovered the movie based upon it. That movie is "The Whole Wide World." The author was a girlfriend of writer Robert E. Howard and this is her recollections of the last years of his life. I've been wanting to read this one for some time, as I'm a fan of Howard's.

Mini review: A sad, tragic tale, and unfortunately a true one. Howard was a complex character, as I suppose are most humans. He was also a torn man, and full of tragedy, and a weak man in many ways despite his reputation as sort of a tough hombre. And he seemed to know it and to live it and, eventually, to die by it. The writing here is fair, but only fair. It builds toward the end, and that helps a lot. Only a true Howard devotee or scholar really needs to read this. Still, the ending is strong enough and sad enough to make this book worth reading. I honestly don't know if I'll ever be able to read another Howard story the same again.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

No. 18 - Doctor Faustus

by Christopher Marlowe

edited by Sylvan Barnet

Started: March 7
Finished: March 10

Notes: This is the famous play of a man who makes a deal with the devil. I've been meaning to get to this one for a long time. The author was a contemporary to Shakespeare, and possibly a sometimes companion and confidante to the famous playwright. Though Marlowe was famous enough in his time. I'm especially interested in this one in that it could give me story ideas for my John Dee character. The play itself is only about 80 pages in this book, but there's loads of commentary and extras, which I'm interested in.

Mini review: The play itself at first seems a bit simplistic when compared to the works of someone like Shakespeare, but as the further readings about the play helped me to understand, there is much more going on than meets the eye. Especially the modern eye, because there is so much forgotten or disremembered from the Elizabethan period. This book is a bit dry at times for the layman, but still quite interesting. I didn't so much get story ideas from this, though I picked up some thematic and plot-structure ideas.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

No. 17 - Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here!

by Ed McBain

Started: March 4
Finished: March 7

Notes: I was going to take a break from this author, at least for a book or two, but my mind just isn't in the mood to tackle anything more complex. So, here's another from my favorite hardboiled writer. This one's from 1971.

Mini review: Quite the appropriate title, and a different kind of plotting for these books. Usually McBain's 87th Precinct novels focus on a couple of detectives and a couple of crimes, but this one focuse on multiple crimes (both big and small) and a whole day's worth of detectives (two shifts) who have to deal with everything.

Vanilla Sky movie - New twist ending

Monday, March 02, 2009

Story released

My story "Interlude in Lombardy" is now available over at Noctober.

This story is a historical dark fantasy set in Italy in 1892. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Another story is available

My short story "August" is now available in PDF form at Demonic Tome. The story won first place in Demonic Tome's Spring writing contest, netting me a $50 gift card for Amazon. Cool, huh?

"August" is my attempt at mixing the hardboiled private eye and horror genres, and I think with some succes.

Word of warning: This story has some gore and strong language. You've been warned.