Friday, 30 December 2011

An Interview: Antoinette Bergin

Filing Words is proud to have Antoinette Bergin, author of Bedtime Stories for Children You Hate, with us for a chat.


Firstly, and I have to put this in before I start asking questions, Antoinette (Nettie, for short) has self proclaimed on her own website that: You might know me as the founder of "Nettie's Law," a piece of legislation that swept the United States a few years ago. Oh, alright. I'm not the founder of "Nettie's Law." Apparently, I'm the reason for it. "Nettie's Law" states that children's caregivers must undergo extensive psychiatric evaluation before becoming live-in nannies (even if they've worked for the bloody Queen!). It's currently under some sort of civil rights appeal and I've no idea why they've slapped my name on it.

We’ll find out how much of that is true in a moment, but first, I must lay down my hammer in respect of the real reason that she is here; Bedtime Stories for Children You Hate.

If you haven’t read it, it is time to leave here, follow one of these links to Amazon (US is here, UK is here) and purchase it. If you’re here, it’s because of the word horror – it’s what I do, and trust me… if you like my twisted tales of strangeness, you’ll love this.

Take this as my review:

Rolling in at the length of a good Novella, Bedtime Stories for Children You Hate is most definitely not for children you even remotely like. As charmingly, and, dare I say it, bedtime story-ish as it reads, it reads like Mr. King himself has just awoken from a Grimm nightmare. It is a rollercoaster of I didn’t see that coming, mixed in with Oh my God, did it really say that? I read it in one sitting, and although there are some formatting issues with the production, I couldn’t tear myself away.

So without further ado:

FW: Antoinette, welcome to Filing Words. I won’t beat about the bush with this. How much of it is true? Did you really skew American Legislation, or is it all ‘smoke and mirrors’?

AB: Although I'd love to take credit for being the cause of something like “Nettie's Law,” I must confess it is fiction. Antoinette is a character I created originally for stand-up comedy performances. I quickly learned that I loved writing the material but dreaded being on stage. Hence, my book was born (or forged in the fires of Hell, whichever way you prefer to think of it).

FW: Assuming that BSFCYH is all fiction (and I hope it is), where on earth did you come up with the deliciously dark twists?

AB: One of the stories is actually true but keeping to my evil nature, I shall not tell you which one. As for the rest of them, it's just how my mind works. Even as a child I was tilted to the dark side. Perhaps I'm genetically predisposed or was deprived of oxygen in the womb. I don't know. I do know, however, that writing a straight-forward story with a happy ending would probably kill me.

FW: And are you influenced (and by whom) in what is clearly, the horror genre? (To all my regular readers: I know horror is not a genre, but what else am I supposed to call it?)

AB: My dad was my first influence. He sort of gave me quiet permission to embrace the humor that could be found in weird, horrific, and morbid situations. He gave me the most wonderful copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Later, when I saw what Disney had done with some of them, I felt ill. I will also profess here and now my love for all things Stephen King and Tim Burton, save and except for the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Awful. Just Awful.

FW: So what’s next? Is the mooted More Bedtime Stories coming? A novel? More Nannying (Eek!)?

AB: No Nannying! It is perfectly safe to leave children with me as long as you're not particularly concerned with the condition in which they are returned to you, but it's really not what I do. I am working on More Bedtime Stories for Children You Hate and I had good intentions at Halloween and Christmas to write freakish holiday stories but life kept getting in the way. Rest assured (or uneasy) that the world has not heard the last of Antoinette Bergin!

FW: I’d like to thank Antoinette for being with us, and wish her well for the future, and of course, part with only these words:

Go. Go and buy it now. (But don’t read it to the children… please God, no.)

Antoinette Bergin can be found at her website, here, and her blog, here. She is an inspiration to the Nanny, claimant of Nettie’s Law, and an author who, by my estimation, will shock and scare us all, in whatever she serves up to us as dinner in the future.

Thank you for joining us.

‘Til next time…

(PS: Buy it. US here and UK here. I loved it.)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Buy this Now: The Plan by Charles Day



Frankie is about to come into a large, large amount of money. He listened in on a secret, and now he’s devised a plan to retrieve these unmarked bills before those he heard it from, get to it first. However, he’s going to bring a few of his friends in to help him collect. They will be needed in order for his plan to work.This is not going to be easy for Frankie, and he’s not even sure he trusts his buddies to keep things under the radar after they get this loot. Nonetheless, he recruits them with the impression that they are getting together to do another assignment from their higher ups in suits.As things progress, Frankie will soon find out he’s made a grave mistake and will have to pay the ultimate price.The Plan is full of mystery, suspense and a conspiracy that should have never came to be.Welcome to Frankie’s twisted and dark world.



The Plan is now available for only $2.99.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Plan-A-Mystery-ebook/dp/B006O5REH2/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_7

Do it! Buy it! Buy it NOW!
(PS: I've known Charlie for a long time. His stuff is cool)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Being An Author: Writing Your First Novel Part One

So, as the title suggests, your first novel.

Firstly, and I say this from experience, if you're a short story writer (a bit like myself) then you'll think: How hard can it be? I mean, I write everyday, it's just a longer short.

*Enter big crashing failure sound*

Oh no, my friend. Oh no.

So starting again from the beginning.

To plan, or not to plan: that is the question.

You see, the short is easy. I get an idea in my head, think it's good, and write it down. 1K to, say 14K. Okay, that's fine. That's how I roll. For the Novella, I plan a bit. Get a sort of sticky, oozy idea of how the story's going to go, but be sure of the beginning, the end, and something about the journey between them.

But then there's the novel. Hm. Experience has dictated to me that the novel is not something that you want to rush at with no ideas about. I had one of those sticky, oozy ideas when I started. Uh-huh. No way. Big mistake. The crash happened just over a third of the way through.

Crap. Where do I go with this character? Who did what what? Crap, trawl back over thousands of words finding the make of the car. An idea does not the novel make.

Here's my hints:

Write your character traits before you start. Get an idea of what they're actually like.
Know the beginning, middle and end. Especially the journey in the middle. Don't leave it to chance. It won't pay off.
Write it down. Really. In Excel, or Word, or in Photo shop. I don't care which, but don't think it's fine, you'll remember it. You won't.

So once you've got the plan, then what?

'Til next time.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Wicked East Press: Soul Reflections (or, yep, I'm editing)



CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS


Soul Reflections

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: April 15, 2012 Midnight (EST)

Edited by Mark Taylor and Jessica A. Weiss

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR:

They say that the mirror reflects the soul, the Egyptians believed that the shadow held great power and could move at great speeds, and Narcissus believed that his reflection in water was a vision of his own sister - a woman of unsurpassed beauty. Sometimes a reflection shows us what we want to see, other times it shows us the horrors of what we don't. We are looking for dark fantasy/horror stories revealing the truth behind the reflections, and most certainly not limited to those mentioned.

WHAT WE ARE NOT LOOKING FOR:

Slash and hack, blood and gore for their own sake. Graphic rape, torture, child molestation, and animal torture have their place, but not here. No erotica or adult themes.

We prefer stories written in the third person—will consider first person if you knock our socks off.

Looking for short stories in the 3,500- 6,000 word range, but will consider stories slightly over 6,000 words. Lower word count is FIRM.

Payment is ¼ cent a word upon publication.

Email submissions to: SoulReflection@wickedeastpress.com

Please put SUBMISSION, followed by the title of the story, and word count, in the subject line of your email.

Submissions should:
Already be self edited
In .rtf format
No spaces between paragraphs
Single space after sentences
“Double quotations” for conversation
No hard returns
No headers/footers
Use italics NOT underline
No hidden formatting
Font in Georgia or New Times Roman

Submissions pasted in the body of email will be rejected, unread.

Questions about this anthology?
Email: jaweiss@wickedeastpress.com

Friday, 28 October 2011

Being an Author: Talking Titles

So just how important is the title of a novel or short story? The answer is simple. Very.

When you're trying to sell your novel, tout your short or pass on your poem, you need something that stands out - something memorable. I received a compliment over one of my titles recently (Alice in Monsterland) by the author and editor (etc) bundle of awesomeness that is Chris Bartholomew. That's what led me here.

Some of you are going to outright say that titles aren't that important - it is after all the content of the story that sells it - but long term, you want - no, need - your readers to remember.

And by remember I don't mean: I loved that story by Fred Horroribus, you know the one, that really creepy one where the vampire hamsters discard their rocket launchers for thermonuclear warheads.

I mean: I loved the Fred Horroribus story - Vamphams Bring the Big Boys!

So what do we need to put into this title of pure hamster brought awesomeness? Well, lets look at some titles and see if we can't see the pattern.


Frankenstein.

Okay I hear you shouting... calm down. Everybody knows what Frankenstein is about.

But think about this... when it first went for publication, when the public first picked it up... what did it mean? Nothing. What was Frankenstein? It's creepy to say, rolls off the tongue and leaves you wondering.

Is it a top title? Yes.

So what about...

The Rats/Rats/Piranha/Alien... Hamster

The concept of naming the title of your story/whatever after a direct reference of a feasible and nameable antagonist is tricky. To do, or not to do?

The plus: yeah, I'm going to rock the world by reading about a *maguffin* and that's going to be awesome. 
The minus: Yeah, I know what this story has in for me.

It gives a good plus and minus. If I read a story called Killer Hamsters I know what I'm getting. Surely in the forefront of the reader's mind is that they want to read what they want to read.

So is it a top title? Yes.

-All You Zombies-

You can see this referenced here. If you haven't heard of this, -All You Zombies- is a story about time travel. It has roused infamy for two things. First, it's an outstanding (if not complicated) short about time travel. Second, the title has no bearing on the content whatsoever, apart from a passing comment in the last paragraph.

Why? (Don't ask me).

I can't say much, so is it a top title? I don't know. But hey, I've gotten to know it just because of the title... so... yeah I suppose.

So the bad titles?

I'm not going to point fingers. The short answer really, is jsut to say that a bad title can be one of two things:

  • Non-sensical

Titles that literally mean nothing, at least, not in their native language. Lord of the Rings for example (Good title) could have been published with an Elven title. Wouldn't really help the reader, now, would it?

  • Misleading 

My Story for Fives and Under: Fluffiest Bunnies. This should not have bunny stew in it. Do you get me?

Anyways, I've vented...

'Til next time...

An Acceptance: Coffee House Fiction III

Yeah, it's getting an annual habit of mine.


Can Boxes Solve All Problems? features in this upcoming anthology - but I'm afraid that you'll have to wait a while... end of 12.

Mark 

Monday, 10 October 2011

Halloween Movies for all the Family

Well, out of the norm, and giving you plenty of time to pick them up off Amazon, I thought I'd share my recommendations for your Halloween Movie Night. A bit of something for everyone methinks!

For the whole family:

A hard one for sure, and most people feel differently about both, so we have:


Personally, I prefer The Monster Squad, but if you've got a couple of lil ones running about both will serve well. Honestly, in my formative youth, The Goonies scared the crap out of me (Yeah I know), but I think The Monster Squad is cooler.

I won't recommend either - particularly if the young people are only just old enough to talk. If that's case, then perhaps Thomas the Tank Engine's Christmas DVD?

A Night in with The Gang:

(Yes, I used gang because I couldn't be bothered to specify boys or girls). Okay, well, what would I watch? Look, if you've got a load of people around and the beer's a' flowin', then you want something fun, right? It's got to be fast moving and gory? How about this:

I know that Aliens is an obvious choice, but you haven't seen it for a couple of years right? Well, it's time to dig it out again.

As for Dog Soldiers, I don't know how well you know it. If you haven't seen it, go, go now and watch it. Trust me. I'm an author. Seriously. I hear your harks. Yeah, if you haven't seen Dog Soldiers, it's a fantastic flick, worthy of any gory night in...

The Light of Dark...

I know that some people don't want to see the dead of man rising and that malarky. Just a chill... a feeling of horror without the bite... Hm. That's a bit tougher.

Okay then, how about this:




I know that Paranormal Activity is a sequel. I know. But if you haven't seen the first one, remember, it's actually a prequel. Either way, it's not as scary as the first, and it does well as a chiller.

Right At your Door, never heard of it? Shame on you! A cool little film with an ending that will leave you shocked. Honestly. I can't recommend it enough.

The Daring and Downright Discusting: 

Obviously:

Yes, Bad Taste is old school Aussie gore and Inside is new wave French horror, but they both pack the punch.

True, Bad Taste is funny, and equally revolting, but it is directed and starring Peter Jackson (yes, that one).

Don't be put off by the fact that Inside has subtitles, the spoken words are few and far between, and it's chilling... to the bone.


So, I reckon that's it. If you want a challenge, why not watch them all...

'Till next time...

Mark

Monday, 3 October 2011

Now Available


Two awesome little numbers are available to buy:



And













Buy! Many starving authors died to get you these books.

Nah... just joking... but BUY THEM!

Mark

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Being an Author: Finishing Things.

So here's the thing right, I've been working hard over the last few months (to the detriment of other things - as I've already said) and now I'm starting to wind down towards actually finishing a major project. And by wind down, I actually mean I'm one sitting away from finishing the writing - and moving on to the editing.

I don't know why, but it sorta scares me, (like hamsters with x-ray vision and rocket launchers strapped upside down to giant spider's backs). I mean, yeah it's cool and all, but now I've got to stop writing all the time and do something productive...

... like editing (whimpers).

So yeah, when you finish writing you have to start editing (unless you have an editor tied up in the basement - which isn't such a bad idea). Editing scares me. I look back at the spreadsheets full of notes and the stacked up printouts with somebody elses scribble all over it - who, by the way, passed over a piece of work to me the other day and said - "So I suppose you read it all now and decide you don't like any of it." Aargh!

That's what I'm scared of! Well, one of the things anyway.

I don't like the thought of editing - in case I don't like anything that I've written. I know that I'm not going to like all of it - but I kinda hope to like some of it. That, at least, is one of the bonuses of having a reader work with me. At least he brings stuff back and throws it to the floor exclaiming that I'd wasted his evening by forcing him to read 4000 words of donkey dribble. (That goes in the bin - he's usually right.)

It's just something that needs to be done. I was talking to writer once who said that he didn't edit his own work before subbing it to a house, because that was what an Editor was for. Yeah, that's not very likely to work. If you don't edit your work at all, that means that you're sending out your first draft. Don't do that. Mine certainly don't make any sense. And I usually write them drunk.

So anyway, I vented.

'Til next time.

Btw, I don't condone tying up editors (-or anyone else come to that) in the basement. 


Friday, 26 August 2011

Being an Author: Spread like butter...


Well, I’m still here. I know it’s been like two months but hey, I’ve been busy with lots of wtfckery. Short answer is I’ve been busy. Long answer: reaaaaallly busy. But I guess you knew that already.

And that’s how it rolls.

Being An Author is about many thinks, including spreading your time carefully, like butter on a warm croissant...

As it transpires – judging by the lack of posts for the last two months – I suck at it. I’m more spreading  my butter with a shovel. With a blind fold on. So I’ve been writing a lot – editing too (both mine and others), reading, starting things, finishing things, but I neglected this. Sorry about that.

I’ll try to put something more meaningful up over the next week, and in the mean time here’s a picture of Zombie Cat:


Friday, 24 June 2011

Being an Author: Thriller/Chiller/Horror

So I looked in the dictionary (Yeah, I can read).

Thriller: an exciting, suspenseful play or story, especially a mystery story.

Chiller: a device for cooling or refrigerating.
No wait. That's not right.
Chiller: a frightening or suspenseful story or film; melodrama.

Horror: Hold on. Horror's not the same. Each of the definitions of Thriller and Chiller are nouns from dictionary.com. Horror is different. If you look at it, dictionary.com doesn't link horror to stories, films, writing, refrigerators, or any of the above. The noun definition is: an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear.

So are you telling me that horror isn't a genre? Yeah. That's what I'm telling you. It's a feeling. (I've got a sense of Deja vu. I'm sure I've written that before - or maybe that's just the drugs?)

So you want to tout your wares? What do you tout them as?

It's easy:


Thriller: Ask yourself this; is it a straight up whodunnit? Are deaths played out through motive? Do the deaths happen 'off screen'? Yes? It's a thriller.






Chiller: Is it a whodunnit? Did who didit die before they dunnit? Is it a thiller with dead people init? (This is giving me a headache). So yeah, go Chiller with this one.






Horror: Does anyone get anything ripped off? Is your intent to scare/revile/disgust the reader? Okay. It's horror.



So you're asking yourself does it matter? The is obviously Hell Yes!
I've had the rejections:

  • It doesn't fit.
  • It's not for us.
  • It's not really what we're looking for. 

Okay, they could mean exactly what they say, or, they could mean... We're putting together an Philip Marlowe type assemble of shorts and you sent over The Case of the Werewolf Demon and the Blood Splat from Uranus.

'Til next time.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Rock n Roll is Dead - Now Available!






Rock n Roll is Dead is now available from all good retailers as they say. You can find the latest reviews of it here: http://darkmarkets.com/2011/06/rock-n-roll-is-dead-anthology/ and here: http://www.horrorreview.com/2011/gwrockandrollisdead2011.html

It's available for purchase through Amazon UK here, and Amazon US here.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Being an Author: Writing's Hard

When you sit at the screen, when you look inside your heart for the words... writing's hard. So, I'm in the middle of a couple of projects - somewhere in the region of 120K, just to give you an idea - and I'm struggling.

You know everything that I've said, write everyday (when you can), set aside an hour etc. but now, when the chips are down it's just not that easy is it?

No. You know what I'm talking about. 1K a day just isn't enough... that means an hour isn't enough. So I write more. And more. That's fine. I deal with it... when it happens, you deal with it. Then you get over week one, then week two... the words flow... it's cool. Then the words stop. The brain says NO MORE...

So what do you do?

Take a day, maybe two, and then sit back and start. At this point every part of you will want to not do it. No, it'll say, play a game, drink a beer, watch a film, go out - find out what sunlight is. When this happens take this:

Write something.

Anything.

It maybe a complete waste of your time, the words may not mean much, and most certainly, you'll hate them. It might take a couple of days of this. Eventually it clicks.

Just remember, write. It all comes back together.

Eventually.

'Til next time...

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Yep. Thrashed it. Beaten it to a bloody pulp.

See, it only takes a bit of work. I feel better: Got an idea, started writing, no, bit rubbish... but hold on! BANG! Back on it!

And just to make you as happy as me, here's a picture of a kitten:


See... isn't that cute?

Mark

Monday, 30 May 2011

No, It's Not Writer's Block

But it's not Kevin either. At some point I'll do a Being an Author about this. It's like the wall, it needs fighting past. You see, working mostly with shorts, sometimes I pump out so much work, that eventually the ideas just dry up. I can still write (I'm writing this aren't I?), but I don't have a great idea... not right now... not staring at me screaming write me!

So I start writing something. I've done a thousand works. I'll keep hitting my head on the idea (you know, when I'm eating fried chicken), two thousand words...

Consider this a ramble. I just had to say something. Now? Well, I'm going back to writing...

...something.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Being an Author: People... Real People

So you're the puppet master right? Yeah, it's cool pulling strings. But I'm talking about real people... no, not them, not the people that you see when you're out buying whiskey and fried chicken (the only reasons that I have found to actually go into the daylight). No, they're faceless drones. You have no control over them. I'm talking about the people whose strings you can pull. Your characters.

I know it's easy to say, "Well, what would I do in that situation?" But there is a problem with that. Ask yourself this... Does your story have five main characters? Yes? Are they all clones? No? Well they won't all act the same then, will they?

Even in shorts you still need to grow characters, and don't get me started on novelisation. Look at King. His characters are built like they are uncontrolled in a universe with un-faced god. That's a good thing. They are all coherent, uniquely minded individuals. Are yours?

Put plainly and in a sense that I think everyone will understand, look at Scooby Doo (No, the cartoon, not the film). Whilst we can all say that the cast are stereotype types, they are all different. Does Shaggy behave like Velma? No. Even in the unspoken subtext we know that Shaggy is a doped up drug addict coward who talks to dogs. Velma, not so much.

Allow that seed to grow.

Do you create characters that are as - if not more - individual than a childrens cartoon? If not, you may have to flesh them out more. Now I know that you're saying how difficult that is in a piece of maybe 8000 words. True. I know. But it does need to be done.

Your little puppets need two things. They need to behave differently, and they they need to speak differently. (I know, in some shorts it's difficult to get them to behave differently in the enclosed story. But please give them different personallities.)

Anyway, just sayin'.

'Til next time...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Being an Author: Ideas

We've all had it, haven't we? "So where do you get your ideas from?"

And there's the standard reply, "An author looks at what's around them, listens, and takes their ideas from the world that they see."

Pah! I call tosh! These people that believe this to be true, what are they, romance novelists? Celebrity Biographers? I'll tell you what they're not. Horror writers. If I was taking my inspiration from the world around me - with the crazy, off-the-wall, batty as fruit bats, bonkers horrorathons that I write - I wouldn't be here. I'd be locked away somewhere, and better off for it. In Static Movement's The Cedar Chest my opening lines describe a scientist stitching the corpses of his whole family back together, in an attempt to reanimate them. (It's called Family Union. Can you see what I did there?) Yeah, I heard someone talking about that on the bus one day, and thought I'd make a story out of it. (True story)

So anyway, horror writing. Another standard answer: Write what scares you. (You, not me. You don't know what scares me - it's hamsters with x-ray vision and rocket launchers. I dread the day they take over. All hail our new dolphin overlords.)

So where do I get my ideas from? That's easy. Nowhere. What I mean is, well, I just sort of get them, mostly, but I'll come to that in a minute.

See, when I'm writing horror - which is most of the time - my stories don't scare me. Mostly because I either know what's coming, or I want something to happen. Let's say that I can only write what scares me. How many x-ray visioned, tooled up hamster stories can I truly write? So I write what disturbs me. There is actually a vast difference.

So having discarded my hamster story as slightly stupid and not very likely to scare a four year old, I have to move on. The disturbing is much easier to grip. I find the concept of hell disturbing. I'm not saying that it scares me, or indeed whether I believe in it or not, but hell, look at it. Burning bodies, the devil, sorry I could go on, but I'm not your muse, so, etc. It's disturbing. Write it.

Spiders? Scared of them? No? Well make them eight foot tall with killer hamsters glued to their backs. Now it's disturbing. See? Write what disturbs you - not what scares you.

Anyway, so what happens when you have no ideas? Some people will say, Ha! Writers block! No. It's just that I'm not really in the right frame of mind. When this happens you need a go-to-guy. If you haven't got one, get one. (I've got two)

So, I've got two go-to-guys (they don't have to be guys, just non-vegetitive sentients). One helps me with grammar and the other stuff I suck at, and the other, story flow and on occassion, ideas. I'll say 'prompt me' and he'll blurt out 'vampire zombies fighting alien werewolves' and then we'll both laugh. But it's a catalyst. Vampire Zombies? It could work.

It's no different than a open call from a press asking for, I dunno, stories about one legged ninjas.

So I've rambled. Again if you don't like it, comment.

'Til next time...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Being an Author: How To Write

So yeah, I've decided to ramble about being an author under the guise of Being an Author. I know it shortens to baa. I can't be bothered to change it now. (I know you're thinking that I've got a thing for sheep)

So I've decided to start with 'How To Write'. Now I know that most of you reading this will fall into one of two camps. Either you are an author, or you want to be an author. So you're probably thinking, Hell, you're going to do the whole of how to write in one post? Wow. That's impressive, what a guy. You'd be right of course, but not about the subject.

We all write differently, but in some way, we all write the same way (zen, I know). No really. You wanted to be an author (or a writer, or whatever you want to call it... keyboard fondler) at some time, and decided to sit at a keyboard/pick up a pen/crayon and actually put those first tentative words down. That's where we're all the same. We write. It's what we do. The names in the title.

Write Everyday.

Aargh! No! Not that one again!  I know, I know, well calm down. I've seen all the people that say if you really are a writer, then you have to write, and well, they're right. Thing is, no matter who says what, sometimes you either have no inclination to write, or hell, just don't have time. No matter what they say, sometimes you do just run out of hours.

What they should be saying, is that if you are looking for a reason not to write, or you find yourself day after day saying that you're too tired or whatever. Then honestly? It maybe time to hang up the keyboard and go back to playing Minecraft. I've had times like that. I don't know if I was too tired to write, but I just didn't want to. After three months of writing three thousand words a day - seven days a week - and yes, I do have a full time job as well, maybe I was just burnt out. Maybe. These days I just timetable myself an hour. I try my hardest to fill that hour with nothing but writing, and if I go over, I go over. And really. If you miss a day, it's not the end of the world. (Unless you're on a deadline - then it maybe, but that's your problem.)

Your Writing Changes.

It does. When I first started writing horror I thought that what I had seen in the movies was a great starting point... it is, but it's not. Take my old friend Freddy. Making a madman like that might translate to the written word - it may not. The only way to know is to try. (Yes. Some of your writing will blow chucks and suck poop. It happens.)


Thing is, as you find your own way, you'll naturally find a curve that you fit in. It most likely won't be what it was when you started, and hey, you might not have been expecting it, but when you hit it, everything changes. I'm not going into what, but you'll know when it happens.

Right. That's all I'm saying for now. If you disagree, comment on it, and we'll argue (constructively of course and hopefully not when I'm halfway down a bottle of something - my arguments may be flawed in that case). I'll be back with something else earth shattering to say soon, so 'til next time...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I'm back from the brink...

What can I say, it's been busy. Now I'm not saying that 'it' has gone away, so whilst I will attempt brevity - and most probably fail in the most faily failing type way - I thought that I'd just check in.

So yeah, I've finished another one of Laymon's books - this time the collection Fiends. I don't want any spoilers in here, so I'll be brief again.

The first one hundred pages of this one is the Novella Fiends. It's a good read, a little complex, but broken down into a mountain of tiny chapters (- chapettes?).

After that you get a further couple of hundred pages of typical Laymon shorts. They're wickedly creepy. If you want to be scared, you want to poop your pants, read it. Having been a fan of the likes of King and Barker my whole life - and I'm ashamed to admit to having never heard of Laymon until six months ago - he's good. I mean real good.


Talking of Wicked...

Jeeps, I'm behind on my stuff big time...




Okay, first up to the table is Hannibal's Manor, available at the Pill Hill Press Shoppe:

 http://www.pillhillpress.com/shoppe-wicked-east-press.html






Flash fiction collection Cup of Joe, can be found here in the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Coffee-House-Flash-Fiction-Collection/dp/1617061190/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305645221&sr=1-1

Or here, in the US: http://www.amazon.com/Coffee-House-Flash-Fiction-Collection/dp/1617061190/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1305645293&sr=8-2





The Wicked Bag of Tales (Horror) is now available, here: http://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Horror-Tales-Jessica-Weiss/dp/1617061182/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1305645401&sr=1-1 in the US and
here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wicked-Horror-Tales-Jessica-Weiss/dp/1617061182/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1305644525&sr=8-1



And I've had a couple of acceptances. Firstly, I have had my story Alice in Monsterland accpeted for Wicked East Press's Halloween Frights, and Inc. for Tales of Terror and Mayhem from Deep Within the Box from a collaboration between Wicked East and Hidden Thoughts.

So... me? I thought you'd never ask. I'm fine. Working my butt off on 'it', and of course the other project that I have been approached to do, so that's another 'it', and then there was talk of a third 'it'. Who knows?

So I'm off, I got to do some writing. I'll be back though, I thought I might follow up How Not to Write Horror, with something along the lines of the Misconceptions of being an Author. I might title it, Stop asking me where I get my ideas...

'til next time.

Mark

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Richard Laymon's Dreadful Tales: Not Quite a Review

I was going to do a full on review of Richard Laymon's Dreadful Tales as it was one of the most profound collections of shorts by a single author that I have ever read.

But now I'm not.

Put quite simply: If you like horror shorts, go buy it, read it, and you won't regret it.

So now that's out the way, what did I decide to say? Ah yes. Well. Firstly, I wanted explain why Laymon dispells the myth of writing what you know. I know that most horror writers don't write what we know or we'd all be in asylums... or more likely prison... but Laymon manages to write in so many different personas, that it's quite amazing.

Through the book - and they'll be no spoilers here  - he manages to come across as having experiences of most people in most walks of life. Now unless he was born a girl and then gender swapped - at least three times - he couldn't have those experiences that he writes about so profoundly. His style is quiet unique, and yet you never think about Laymon, only about that tale which he is weaving, whether a young girl on a bike, a woman on the beach, or a man in a diner.

It's actually almost strange in retrospect, thinking back to how his writing manages to do that.

If you read the first story in the anthology entitled "Invitation to Murder" you'll know what I mean.

... And after you've read that, you'll know what I mean when I say...

... Richard Laymon knows how to write twists.

Those of you that have read my 'How Not to Write Horror' series, will know of the contention in the industry of how to write endings, and particularly twists.

It's difficult to write twists. I know, I've fubar'd a'many. Laymon, however, does it with grace and style (granted you'll see some of them coming - maybe) but most are a real kick in the butt, if you know what I mean.

Mark

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Hannibals Manor





I've just received my acceptance for the Hannibals Manor anthology from Wicked East Press. I'm joined in the anthology by my author friends including Charles Day, Rebecca Besser and Sean T Page. Awesome Stuff!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

How Not to Write Horror: The Conclusion

Firstly, I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who has commented on the contents of How Not to Write Horror, and I hope that it's been interesting for you.

The biggest comments have comes from endings, so I'll come to that in a minute, but first Jessica A Weiss (Author, Editor and Founder of Wicked East Press), whilst commenting on her preference towards situational/suspense horror, said this:

It all comes down to personal tastes.


Too true. Whilst most authors that I know don't peddle gore in the market, there is a place for it (and hey, I like to read it sometimes) and there is no right or wrong.

On the predictability of the Vampire and Werewolf:

Charles Day (Author and Founder of Hidden Thoughts Press) said:

It is true, you need to breath new life into these legenday characters, and they too need characters in their story that people will fall in love with!!

On endings:



Sean T Page (Author of The Official Zombie Handbook UK) said:

I think one of the biggest traps is falling into a predictable massive twist ending - it you do it right, it will be brilliant - get it wrong & you fall into every cliche bucket in the world. Sean is of course correct he said, "Actually, she died last week so how can you have seen her!!"
No one needs to see these endings, they're tride and predictable.


So that, I think, about wraps it up for now.

Hm. I suppose I should end with a great inspirational statement. How about:

Read Richard Laymon if you want great twists, the right way to write gore, and frankly, to have your socks scared off of you.

Thanks

Mark

Sunday, 20 February 2011

How Not to Write Horror: Part 5

Part 5: Endings. Happy or Not?


Back to films (briefly), another question raises its head. Should it really finish? Freddy, Jason and the likes have been going for years, with each film leaving you with the impression that they’re coming back. That’s movies.

If I have invested my time in reading a book – or short – that isn’t recognized as part of a bigger picture, I’m annoyed at a cliffhanger ending. Just saying.

So happy endings, should we use them exclusively?

I recently gained criticism from my peers over a story that didn’t have a happy ending, although I thought that I was justified in my not-so-happy ending. If you’ve read my work, you’ll know that I happily dispatch main characters in closing scenes. So I’m not a rainbows and flowers writer. But does that mean my stories don’t have happy endings?

Ultimately, it depends on you, the author, on how you want the story to finish. I’m looking for one word – closure.

If you kill your main character/s are you justified in doing so? Not for a happy ending, but to complete the story. All I ask for is an ending, without the ambiguity of, say, a Freddy film.

There is nothing wrong with killing off the cast to achieve a satisfying end.

That said, do you need to kill them all off? Of course not, no.

Take Clive Barker’s shorts in the ‘Books of Blood’. There are stories in there where no one of consequence dies, yet the chilling nature of the stories won’t let you put them down.

It can be done in many ways, but I urge you to finish the story, and most importantly, satisfy the reader.

Satisfying the reader leads to the other question, one predominant in horror writing… the twist. We know that ‘the twist’ is massively important in a horror story… or is it? From my personal writings, I feel that a twist is always there, sometimes significantly, sometimes not. My twists can unfold during the story, or in other cases are literally revealed in the last sentence.

Twists need to be shocking and surprising – that’s easy. They need to be believable in the context of the story (Yes, I’m looking at all the tales that end with ‘it was all a dream’ etc.) and if you’re going to put in a major twist at the end, it needs to stand up to re-reads.

I’ve seen The Sixth Sense many times – you all know what I’m talking about – but at no point during the viewing can you say, “Hey, that doesn’t work with the end.”

Sometimes the end doesn’t rear its head (to even the writer) until the last minute. Make sure you follow these rules as best you can:

Don’t cheat the reader – they’ll hate you.

Conclude the tale – no one wants to be left with half a story.

Rubbish twist? Rubbish story.

Plot holes – leave none.

This (sort of) concludes How Not to Write Horror, although in the next week I will be compiling a summary of the feedback that I have received from authors, editors and publishers to help you know… How Not to Write Horror.

Part 1 of How Not to Write Horror can be found here.

Part 2 of How Not to Write Horror can be found here.

Part 3 of How Not to Write Horror can be found here.

Part 4 of How Not to Write Horror can be found here.


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These are my own opinions, and should only be taken as a guideline.