Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 in the Rearview/ 2011 Giving Me a Lap Dance…

Wow. This was a landmark year for me and the most enjoyable I've had since found stumbling around this mortal coil.

I met the woman of my dreams. Then we learned that a dream is just a dream and a real loving relationship takes work, which turned out to be kinda fun, and well worth the effort on both our parts. We've taught each other things, we've learned to listen, we share so much and give like you wouldn't believe. I was happy before. She makes me happier. I hope I can always do the same for her.

I've come to love limited edition books. They make my blood sing, my fingers tingle, and my hair stand on end. It's amazing the talent and skill that goes into making them, an outer beauty to match the inner glory of the stories. Perfect. I'll do everything I can to support authors and publishers I believe in. Like Steve Clark’s Tasmaniac Publications, Tom and Billie Moran’s Sideshow Press, Shane Ryan Staley’s Delirium Books, Brett Alexander Savory’s Chizine Publications, RJ and Julia Sevin’s Creeping Hemlock Press, as well as Centipede Press, Bloodletting, and Bad Moon Books, as well as magazines like Shock Totem, Dark Discoveries, and a dozen others. And authors they publish: Greg Gifune, Brian Hodge, Tom Piccirilli, Douglas Clegg, Peter Straub, Shaun Jeffrey, Clive Barker, Sam W. Anderson, Erik Williams, John Mantooth, Tim Lebbon, Cate Gardner, Gary Braunbeck, Mark Allan Gunnells, Sheldon Higdon, Ronald Malfi, Brian Knight, and a host more.

I learned that sometimes I need to step away from the Internet, to strip my life down to what matters most—the barest essentials: my relationship, my family, my closest friends, and my work. Energy ebbs and flows. I have to stay in step with it to keep dancing so smoothly. Pretty fly for a white guy, eh?

I learned a lot from writing this year from those who have critted my stories (Shaun Ryan, Kevin Wallis, Kara, Ken Wood, Ben Eads, Wanda Clevenger, Shaun Jeffrey, and Mark Allan Gunnells) and I give them all a big butt smack filled with appreciation to carry them into 2011. Not only are they great critters, they're great people with great butts.

I've met amazing editors who have helped me develop faith in myself that goes beyond the normal, and sometimes tiresome, back-patting you see among writers. So a big thanks to Steve Clark, Tom Moran, Shane Ryan Staley, Ken Wood, Claire Nixon, Michael Louis Dixon, Jassen Bailey, James Beach, and Jason Sizemore. Not to mention their great teams with people like Maggie Jamison, Mercedes Yardley, Nick Contor, John Boden, Jason V. Brock, etc., etc.

I had a blast while helping select stories for Horror Library Volume 4. It's such an excellent collection.

I found some great shows that made me laugh. Spaced; Spartacus: Blood and Sand; Peep Show; and some others that elude me because I'm a dork.

I've read a hundred great books (my top five would be: Greg Gifune’s The Bleeding Season; Tom Piccirilli’s Shadow Season; Sam W. Anderson’s collection Postcards from Purgatory; Douglas Clegg’s Neverland; and Jack Cady’s Street (which I copied the entire novel by hand to learn more. LOl. I am insane.)

I got to see some of my friends sell stories, collections and novels. Outstanding! I expect they'll all sell much more in 2011. I’m excited for them!

I gave my first blurb! (Kevin Wallis’s fantastic collection Beneath the Surface of Things)

I had my first interview! (AJ Brown interviewed me. What fun! And an equally fun second interview performed by Mark Allan Gunnells!)

I had my first professional sale! (Shock Totem issue 4, baby! Where my story “Beneath the Weeping Willow” sits in wait to get its hands on your throat, and maybe your heart.)

Hosted our first Scary Sad Stories Talent Show (We will repeat every Halloween!)

I found a career after a lifetime of living as a hooker and part-time vagabond!

I had my first limited-edition hard cover release! (As I Embrace My Jagged Edges—which was released in digital, is also being released in a limited hardcover run for collector's and features a bonus story! Drop kickin’ a pregnant watermelon.)

I’ve learned that there is more pleasure in having work through publishers I love and having my work among my heroes than the measly satisfaction given by money. A whole lot. But the money is nice because then I can buy people stuff (like breath mints.) :D

I wrote several long pieces (45-90,000 words). Four of them to be exact. Everyone of them was fun—we danced, we laughed, we cried, we collapsed, exhausted! And I am proud of them all. And you'll see some of them released in 2011!

I hope others have had such a wonderful year. It’s overwhelming at times. Surreal. But I'm grateful and looking forward to hitting my stride this next year! Dig it! And the great thing is 2010 is not even over yet and more wonderful news might arrive!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For your enjoyment…

an interview with Mark Allan Gunnells. He’s a promising talent on the rise. His stories are well-written, dark, and have a playful quality that can easily trick you into thinking maybe everything will work out all right. Mark has various things coming out soon from Sideshow Press and Apex’s imprint The Zombie Feed. It’s wonderful to see him off and running, and I hope that everyone gives his work a chance. He’s a pleasant and gifted host.

Lee: How did you come to love reading and writing, Mark? Were they a soft whisper that coaxed you into the dark, or a deafening roar that compelled you to set yourself apart?

Mark: I fell in love with reading at a young age, with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Something about that story just really captured my imagination and I began reading a lot. However, I fell away from reading as I got older and didn't find my way back to it until high school, with the help of one Mr. Stephen King. As for writing, that also began at an early age, with me penning these little one-page Twilight Zone knock-offs. Hopefully I've improved some since then.

Lee: People love your work. You’ve improved. Do you have a process when composing stories?

Mark: I'm very lucky in that I get to write at work. I'm a security guard, and have pockets of downtime throughout the day. I have trained myself to write in those pockets. It isn't ideal for some, the constant stop-and-start method, but I've managed to make it work. I don't put pressure on myself by aiming for a certain number of words or pages per day. My aim is just to write.

Lee: And knowing how much you’ve written I’d say it’s working very well for you! Who are some of your greatest influences?

Mark: Well, there are many writers I love. King is wonderful at characters and just seems to exude a passion for storytelling; Lansdale is awe-inspiring and has taught me how sometimes simplicity in style can expose great depths; Barker is just a master of the short form. That said, I don't know if I'd call them "influences" in that I do try not to emulate but write with my own voice.

Lee: Who’s Lansdale and Barker? (Hehe. I kid.) What are your favorite types of stories? And does your work naturally fall into this camp or that?

Mark: I like different types of stories, but horror is my first love, and perhaps my truest love. I've always found them to be thrilling and exciting. And because it's what I love to read, naturally it's what I love to write as well.

Lee: You have several stories which will be available soon through Sideshow Press with other talented writers like Sam W. Anderson, Erik Williams, James A. Moore, and Kurt Newton. What are your stories there about? What is unique about this press and why does your work fit so well among their catalog?

Mark: My upcoming projects include WHISONANT, which contains two novellas. "Whisonant", which is a ghost story of sorts set on a college campus, and "Creatures of the Light" which is a post-apocalyptic creature feature. Also, Sideshow will be releasing TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT VOL. I, my first full short story collection, which I'm most excited about. Sideshow is a wonderful press run by Tom and Billie Moran. They have a true love for the genre and for books in general, and they bring their passion to their company. I am very fortunate they were willing to take a risk on me.

Lee: What do you want to accomplish? What is your ultimate goal?

Mark: Some may call it simplistic, but my ultimate goal is just to entertain. Not that I don't sometimes have deeper themes and meanings, but to me the most important thing is entertaining. I want to be entertained by what I write and entertain those who read what I write.

Lee: That’s a great goal. People love to be entertained! (I'm a great pointer out of the obvious.) What do you have in the works now?

Mark: Right now I'm working on "The Summer of Winters", a coming-of-age novella.

Lee: You have a novella coming out through Apex's imprint The Zombie Feed. What's the title? How long did it take you to write? What's it about?

Mark: It's called ASYLUM, and it's a zombie story that takes place in a gay club. I sometimes jokingly say it's like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD only in a gay club instead of a farmhouse. There are zombie attacks and flesh-eating goodies, but it's also more of a character study of the people trapped inside the club.

I actually started a version of this story--then called NIGHT OWLS--in college when I first got the idea, but I wrote only the first few paragraphs (including one of my favorite opening lines: "When the dead arose, Jimmy was going down on the balding accountant.") before putting it aside. After college, I went through a dark period where I stopped writing altogether, but when I finally came back to it (came to my senses more like it) I looked at those paragraphs and decided I wanted to try again. NIGHT OWLS became ASYLUM (because I liked the dual meaning of the name) and I started. I got halfway through then for whatever reason felt it wasn't working and put it aside again. A little over a year later I looked at what I had written, really liked it and couldn't remember why it wasn't working for me at the time. Maybe all I needed was a little distance. So I went back to it and finally finished the thing up.

Had a hard time finding a home for this one, for various reasons. For some, the explicit gay themes was a problem. For others, it wasn't zombie intensive enough. I am very happy that The Zombie Feed is taking a chance on it.

Lee: Neat! Any advice for aspiring writers?

Mark: If you love to write, write. Plain and simple. Yes, you should strive to learn all you can and improve your craft. Definitely seek publication. But above all else, just sit down and write. And have fun with it. In my opinion, if writing isn't a joyful experience, you're not doing something right.

Thanks for sharing some time with me and these intelligent gents and ladies who read my blog! I’m sure we’ll see a lot more quality work coming from your golden pen, Mr. Gunnells. Looking forward to it!

Mark’s story “Dancing in the Dark” from Darkside Digital is a good first taste of his fiction. Support a great writer and a great publisher. And it’s cheap! Buy it HERE! (<--Right there)

Here’s a sneak peek of his novella coming out through Apex’s Zombie Feed imprint: Clickie.

Here’s a free story up on Sideshow Press’s website. (Click ME)

Mark's novella just went up for pre-order! The details are here: Asylum

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I strip in an interview (and other news)


It’s been a great year, which I’ll be posting about as soon as 2011 rears its pretty head. For now, a talented and entertaining writer—Mark Allan Gunnells—just interviewed me on his blog. Fun! We share space at both Darkside Digital and now Sideshow Press! You can read the interview here: Lee’s boogie woogie.

And tomorrow I’ll be posting my interview with Mark on here. He has some entertaining work you don’t want to miss!

In other news my story DADDY SCREAMED WITH US is going to be included in Delirium’s Horror Wired anthology. It’s a hardcover and I’m excited because I LOVE Delirium’s roster and quality! And it’s the second limited edition hardcover featuring my work. Neat, yeah? It is to me. I’m pumped. Bouncing off walls in my fancy yellow helmet.

I had an invite to an anthology with some of my favorite writers too! Can’t wait to write the story for this one and see/hold the end product!

Still waiting for the release of my novelette from Sideshow Press (see previous blog post). I’m so thrilled to be working with Tom and Billie and having work alongside some of the horror genres rising stars (Sam W. Anderson, Mark Allan Gunnells, Erik Williams, and a few others.) *Beaming*

I received my contributor copies of Tasmaniac Publications Festive Fear: Global Edition. It’s beautiful and has my story “A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky” alongside Tom Piccirilli, Paul Kane, Tim Curran, Kaelan Patrick Burke and lots of other talented folks. Sweetness. I’m looking forward to reading some reviews when they start coming in!

Also got some great books from James Beach. Dark Discoveries is running an excellent deal. Check it out HERE!

Working on a novel (The Dampness of Mourning), and editing a novella, pitched a novella to one of my favorite publishers, and got some other irons in the fire. I hope you’re all staying busy too (and having fun with it!)

Don’t forget to come back and read Mark’s interview tomorrow. If you love dark work he’s your man.