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Some of you may know I have a problem with clutter. Some of you may know I have a similar problem with keeping up with my paperwork and filing, which directly affects the clutter thing.

Recently I undertook a project to clean the stacks of paper surrounding me and make sure that information jibed with the corresponding info on the computer. And then make sure the papers were given to the department assistant to file.

The result? I have whittled down a three-and-a-half foot stack of papers down to about a quarter of an inch which I will finish and turn in tomorrow.

These are some of the things I learned in the process.

  1. I was right. Paperwork utterly sucks.

  2. A job that looks overwhelming can actually be every bit as difficult and ponderous as you've built it up in your imagination to be.

  3. A three-and-a-half-foot stack of paper, when organized can become a three-and-a-half-foot stack of paper and three full garbage bags of shreddings.

  4. There's a coefficient to determine how long a paperwork organization project will take. It is 3.5. Estimate the time it will take you to complete the project and multiply by the above coefficient to get the actual required time.

  5. Paperwork utterly sucks.

  6. The same coefficient can be applied to the amount of time that you think you are behind. If you think you're three weeks behind in paperwork, multiply by the above number.

  7. Such an organization project will cost approximately 25.463 percent of your soul unless you make your saving throw of .904857 on a 20-sided die.

  8. The headache you can expect to have after completing said project can also be multiplied by the above coefficient.

  9. Did I mention it sucks? Just saying.

  10. Your assistant will want to kill you in your sleep.

  11. And the worst thing? Your office just won't look that much different when you're done.

So now I know. And knowing is half ... you get the idea.

Taking Publication into One's Own Hands

Lately there's been a veritable flurry of articles and conversations about the newly reconceptualized idea of self-publishing. I suppose at this point I should make a couple of distinctions. I'm not referring here to vanity publishing, using such purveyors as the quite reputable iUniverse or the substantially less reputable PublishAmerica. Vanity publications are for authors who write a book and for one reason or another, cannot get published, and so they pay a publishers who may or may not edit their work, may or may not have a distribution system in place and may or may not destroy the reputation of the writer in the process.

You see, vanity publishers will not tell you if your book sucks. Their job is not to gatekeep the trash from public view. So if you've written a book that, shall we say, needs a lot of work, a vanity press will do their job and get you out there where everyone can see you work, even if it's still in its underwear.

The problem with vanity presses is one of irresponsibility. Since these companies (rightly) don't view it as their job to make sure the product is good -- or at least passable -- copy, we have now given any idiot the power to publish a book, as long as he or she has the cash. And I've found that most idiots take advantage of this.

To be fair, I've also read a number of beautifully written and edited self-published books. This one, for example.

Now this doesn't really change anything. You've always had to wade through the crap to find the jewels in the bookstore. Since all art is a crapshoot as to whether you'll like it anyway, the Sturgeon statistic holds, that 94 percent of everything is crap.

What vanity publishing does is increase the ratio of crap to readable stuff.

And so it goes. It's not something we can stop, so I rarely worry about it or think about it.

What I'm really addressing here is the relatively new phenomenon of self-publication, which is not the same animal at all, although it has been, until recently, deprecated by both author and publisher alike. The art and concept of self-publication is taking the law into one's own hands, so to speak. It sounds like vanity publishing, but it isn't, because the self-publisher understands the Spider-man rule: With great power comes great responsibility."

The writer who publishes him- or herself understands that their job is no longer just to write, edit and submit on time. That writer must now be self-motivated enough to impose and keep to his own deadlines. She also understands that she must now have to edit her own material, or get someone else to do it, so the product they place out there is just as shiny and perfect as it can possibly be, with all her continuity, spelling, grammatical, punctuational and plot ducks in a neat little row.

The job of the so-called legacy publishers, the Big Six, the small press, anyone who has an acquisitions staff, team or person, was to put the final polish the manuscript, package it, market it, and sell it. Now the writer who wants to publish himself becomes all of those things. If you want a full-page ad in Locus (no longer absolutely necessary, but always helpful) one has to front the money him- or herself.

One has to arrange -- or hire or con someone to arrange -- content- and copyediting, covers, ebook formatting, advertisements, book trailers, distribution or placement on websites such as Sony, Amazon and Fictionwise. This is all in addition to arranging your own publicity, social media, presentations, book tours and all the hidden stuff that goes with being an author on your own.

That's the downside, and only part of it.

The upside is that the author remains in complete control of every project from start to finish: plot, cover, editing, formatting, publication, distribution, And keeps all (or most of) the money for doing it. With the advent of the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader, computing tablets and smart phones, readers are now more connected and have more access to immediate books than ever before. It's a reader's dream. A writers dream, too. A writer can connect with his readers on an immediate, basic level.

I have just touched the surface of investigating this idea. I'm going to try some experiments, and, for those interested, I'll pass my findings and my procedures on to you. Here is one such finding (on the "be wary" side, which began life as an email to me from a dear friend and later took on an expanded life of its own.

Does this mean I'm going to go whole hog into self-publishing? Hell no. Even if I thought that was a good idea, which I'm still not wholly convinced of, monetarily speaking -- there are downsides I've touched on, but haven't explored.

But I am going to gather my Lantern of Diogenes and go looking for the truth (and perhaps any honest remuneration) to be found therein. Stay tuned.

2010 Bram Stoker Award Nominees

I'm proud to be in with this bunch of fine writers. Congrats and best of luck to all the nominees in each category.

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
ROT AND RUIN by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
DEAD LOVE by Linda Watanabe McFerrin (Stone Bridge Press)
APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
DWELLER by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (DoubleDay)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
SPELLBENT by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
THE PAINTED DARKNESS by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
DISSOLUTION by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
MONSTERS AMONG US by Kirstyn McDermott (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
THE SAMHANACH by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
RETURN TO MARIABRONN by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
1925: A FALL RIVER HALLOWEEN by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
IN THE MIDDLE OF POPLAR STREET by Nate Southard (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
FINAL DRAFT by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY</b></u>
DARK FAITH edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
HORROR LIBRARY IV edited by R.J. Cavender and, Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
MACABRE: A JOURNEY THROUGH AUSTRALIA’S DARKEST FEARS edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin's Griffin)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
OCCULTATION by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY by Stephen Graham Jones (Prime Books)
A HOST OF SHADOWS by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY collection
DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
WILD HUNT OF THE STARS by Ann K. Schwader (Sam's Dot)
DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White (Bandersnatch Books)

Need I Say More?

Can You Tame Your Books?

I shamelessly cribbed this from someone else's journal.

2009 Stoker Nominees

These are the folks who should try to get to World Horror Convention in Brighton this year. Congratulations to all of them.

Superior Achievement in a Novel
  • AUDREY'S DOOR by Sarah Langan (Harper)
  • PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin's Griffin)
  • QUARANTINED by Joe McKinney (Lachesis Publishing)
  • CURSED by Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Superior Achievement in a First Novel
  • BREATHERS by S. G. Browne (Broadway Books)
  • SOLOMON’S GRAVE by Daniel G. Keohane (Dragon Moon Press)
  • DAMNABLE by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)
  • THE LITTLE SLEEP by Paul Tremblay (Henry Holt)
Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
  • THE HUNGER OF EMPTY VESSELS by Scott Edelman (Bad Moon Books)
  • THE LUCID DREAMING by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
  • DOC GOOD'S TRAVELING SHOW by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

  • IN THE PORCHES OF MY EARS by Norman Prentiss (PS Publishing)
  • THE NIGHT NURSE by Harry Shannon (Horror Drive-in)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

  • HE IS LEGEND: AN ANTHOLOGY CELEBRATING RICHARD MATHESON edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)
  • LOVECRAFT UNBOUND edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse Books)
  • POE edited by Ellen Datlow (Solaris)
  • MIDNIGHT WALK edited by Lisa Morton (Dark House)

Superior Achievement in a Collection

  • MARTYRS AND MONSTERS by Robert Dunbar (DarkHart Press)
  • GOT TO KILL THEM ALL AND OTHER STORIES by Dennis Etchison (Cemetery Dance)
  • A TASTE OF TENDERLOIN by Gene O'Neill (Apex Book Company)
  • IN THE CLOSET, UNDER THE BED by Lee Thomas (Dark Scribe Press)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction

  • WRITERS WORKSHOP OF HORROR by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)
  • CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT by L. L. Soares and Michael Arruda (Fearzone)
  • STEPHEN KING: THE NON-FICTION by Rocky Wood and Justin Brook (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in Poetry

  • DOUBLE VISIONS by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions)
  • NORTH LEFT OF EARTH by Bruce Boston (Sam's Dot)
  • BARFODDER by Rain Graves (Cemetery Dance)
  • CHIMERIC MACHINES by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)

Every Day Holds Wonders to be Seen...

Lately I've had a tune running through my head.

Yes, I know. Those who know me will tell you I always have a song playing in my head. It's part of hanging around with Mark that he'll hum the same tune for three or four days straight, inflicting his taste in music, or at least the tastes of his unconscious -- not to mention his dubious vocal talents -- on everyone around him.

Yah, okay. But this one is different. The tune, not to mention the message carried on its waves, has kept me calm these last several days when I should have freaked out (or is that froken out?) on various occasions. It's been a stressful few days to be sure, with the Stokers this and the updating of tutoring statistics that and finding a place to live the other. Not to mention being sued by incompetents and defended by indifferents. Yes, we lost and now owe seven hundred or so dollars we never owed. And there's more, but I won't bring you down with it.

Gerry Goffin and Carole king wrote my reoccurring tune, but neither ever performed it that I know of. Who did? Why none other than The Monkees of course. I've always said that group was vastly underrated. All four musicians were good at what they did, and at least two of them were wildly talented. I'll leave it to you to figure out which ones were great and which rode the star wagon.

"Take a Giant Step" is the name, and it's definitely representative of the optimism and idealism that embodied the sixties, and those two qualities are brought home to me every time I hum or sing it, but the last two lines of the second verse remind me that no matter how bad things get, there's always an upswing. Things will get better. At the risk of being asked to take them down:

Come and let me take you where the taste of life is green
And every day holds wonders to be seen.

Every day holds wonders. You know, that was my attitude when I was little, every day brought a new wonder. Having this song ever-present in my head reminds me of that. Every day is to be specifically appreciated. Every day carries the potential for joy or sorrow -- sometimes joy and sorrow. And the experience of either lets us know we're alive.

So if I have anything resembling a new year's resolution, that would  be it: to maintain my childlike sense of wonder, and keep my taste of life green. Not green in the sense of saving the world, but green in the sense of newness -- it's time to leave my jaded cynicism behind. It's not serving me at all, and if anything, it's bringing me everyone around me down.

May you be able to leave behind your cynicism and get green with me. Appreciate those wonders!


In other news, I'm working steadily on the Nick and Lysette sequel, tentatively titled MEMORY GROVE. I'm 28,500 words into it, and was feeling pretty good about it until I had a dream. This dream gave me a novel for free -- almost start to finish.

So I did what any good writer would do -- I wrote copious notes on plot and character and even wrote a few words. But the thing started taking over every waking moment, and got stuck, so I had to write the first chapter. And now I'm into it.

So I'm going to try to work on both. We'll see how long I can sustain that. If I can't, I'll set one aside temporarily. But I think I can, because I have the two well separated in my mind. So here are my progress charts on both.


(This is a working title)

In between, I'm also working on a story called "Sanctuary." That may be a working title as well. We'll see if anything occurs.

Finally, I sold a story but the transaction isn't complete yet, so in the interest of not jinxing, I'll let you know to whom later. The story was originally titled "Whosoever Loseth His Life," but that name will be changed on publication. If anyone has read this and has a suggestion, let me know.

That's about all I've got for now. See you next week.

And I almost forgot. My review of Alice Henderson's VORACIOUS is up here:

Novel Ways of Doing Things

On March 31st of this year, I finished my third novel.

Okay. That's not exactly right. To be completely truthful, it's the third novel I’ve written in my lifetime. But it’s the first one that a) I've fully completed, and b) I am allowing others to see because it might not be crap. If we're sticking to those criteria, it's the very first ever.

Let me elaborate.

Elaboration...Collapse )

Internet Reading in Second Life

So, I did it. After having seen it on Second Life and CSI and some G4 show, I decided to give it a try. I signed up for a Second Life account in January. It took me a while to stop asking questions and feeling like an idiot newbie, but I didn't feel too concerned about that. We're all idiot newbies at something or other. Right?

It didn't take me long to find the writers group and make some friends I was comfortable talking about writing with. I could name them, but since most of them use exclusively internet handles (like nitewanderer), they probably would mean much to you, but the Milk Wood Writers Meet -- a group of writers who get together on a regular basis and park in a certain locale to talk and write. Milk Wood, which I assume was named after Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood," is a place with beautiful graphics containing a market, a place for writers to write, read and socialize. Those folks, along with my RL writing pals have helped me meet my writing goals of the last two months. On March 31st, I finished the rough of my novel, and this past week, I finished a screenplay. And, in the words of Jason Hawes, on to the next.

I'm currently working on a new screenplay and revising the novel. Hope to bark both at the Stoker Weekend.

In Second Life, this month, I was asked to do a reading and a podcast inteview. The interview is tomorrow, so I'll talk about that next time, but several folks have asked me out the reading went. So here is a short summary.

It happened on Thursday at seven p.m. In second life, which runs on Pacific time, despite the fact that it is world wide, it was five. The reading started half an hour late. Here's why.

I have rarely had a problem logging on in the past, so I allowed myself five minutes. The problem is that SL involves both visuals and voice -- think of an Xbox Live game. So getting the visuals to run is a piece of cake. Since most SL servers are at least four years old, most computers will hook right up.

Except of course when the servers are wonky.

Second Life itself is six years old this month. Voice, however, has only been a part of it for two years. I got my first pair voice headphones this past Tuesday, and was all ready to go, and it took a full two minutes to log in. When I got there, voice did not work. So I relogged. And again. And again, and again.

When I finally materialized, being able to see the avatars that represented other people and hear their voices, I was a full half-hour late. But I jokingly waded in and talked a little bit about how the stories came about and read two of my favorites. The first, which some of you might have heard me read, was called "What You Carry With You." It's a dark fantasy which requires me to do two different accents. After that, I read, "Hold My Beer and Watch This," which I wrote with J.P. Edwards.  That one requires me to do three different accents and about ten different voices.

When I finished, several people gave me compliments.  It surprised me that most readers don't treat their readings as the theatre they must be in order to carry interest.  Voices, accents, all are important to keep people's attention.

Overall, I had a lot of fun, and so did those eight or ten people attending, so that's all that counts.  Would I do it again?  That question is moot; I am doing it again next month.  And probably the month after that.  It's wonderful not to have to drive around everywhere but stay home in your PJs swilling Coke and do your reading.

I highly recommend it -- it's an inexpensive way to get your name out there.  And SL does allow a way for you to attach your real author name to your avatar.

Talk to you soon.

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