Tag Archives: horror

And so I’m back… from outer space… I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face. Presumably because you’re in my house and shouldn’t be. Now… get out…

So… it’s been a while. How are you? How are the kids? How’s the WEATHER?

I think that’s still how people speak to each other, but hey, I’m no expert.

Anyhoo…

I’ve been busy. I’ve had exams of the HOLY FUCK I REALLY HAVE TO PASS THIS variety. I’ve had a lot on writing-wise and that’s only going to get worse. Well, better, depending on how you look at it. There’s going to be more of it, put it that way.

Currently:

Spares (in novella form) was submitted to and then rejected by a very nice publishers who liked the idea, liked the writing and are keen for me to submit further writing to them. Super! It’s a rejection of the very best kind so I’m feeling highly confident and happy at the moment and it’s really spurred me on. Not bad at all for a “thanks, but fuck off” letter!

My magnum opus (Coburn: The Black Saint cycle) is in the planning stages and will remain so for “some time.” I’m not rushing this one and it will be going on in the background for as long as it takes to do it right and get it finished. It will be a trilogy and, once I’m done writing it, I will start to pimp out the first book. This is going to take YEARS, so I may be boring you with updates on it infrequently but for a long time. Haha.

I have three short stories in with publishers and am waiting with baited wotsits for news on those. One of which I would have expected to hear about if it had been accepted, so I’m writing it off as a dead ‘un. One I should hear about this month at some point, probably, and the third I’ll hear about sometime in September, probably. I’ve got one more to write for one of these publishers and will then be off

One other short story I have written was done to spec, so that’s in with the editors at the moment and there’ll be a proper announcement for the anthology once we’ve got dates and artwork to bandy about. The anthology is going to be called “The Night Wind’s Whispers” and features myself and several others writers from the Black Library Bolthole, talented bastards all. More on that soon…..

Now; current project. I can hammer out short stories pretty fast and novellas with reasonable alacrity, so I’m going full-bore to write a novel as quickly as possible. There will be semi-regular updates on this one (semi-regular like someone who eats only bananas and prunes, presumably) and this one will be a little… erm… it’ll be odd.

Expect to hear about the completed “Gumptions Follies” in the next four months. I aim to have it done (first draft form of course) by the end October. Why? Well, it’s fun writing to a deadline and the anthology I’m to be a part of is to be released in time for Halloween, so I’ll be racing alongside. This gives me four months to complete the project and, hopefully, that will be plenty.

Watch this space for a sample in the next couple of weeks!

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Characters – an endless parade of bastards.

Prior warning: Today’s blog entry is brought to you by a tired, irrational and somewhat exhausted Alec. He may bite if startled.

Ever heard of a Mary-Sue character? If you have, well, tough. Go on, smart ass, fuck off to Wikipedia and read about Latvian Gorilla-Llamas for a few minutes while the adults are talking.

Basically a Mary-Sue character is an idealised version of the writer, with all the strengths they lack and without their weaknesses, or something. There’s some debate about precisely what makes a character a Mary-Sue as opposed to a boring, overpowered cretin of some other creed, but frankly this is the definition that suits my current aims. If there was a door, I’d be directing the disgruntled towards it at this moment. Just poke yourself in the eye and kick yourself firmly up the arse and we’ll pretend I’ve just evicted you from the blog, ok?

The point is, don’t write a Mary-Sue. Unless you’re including one for a good reason other than polishing your own cock (or lady cock) they’re a dull, lazy way to write a character that smacks far more of self-indulgence than it does of creativity. Filling the pages of a book with a Mary-Sue is almost rude, it’s almost a form of masturbation and frankly I don’t want you flopping your wedding tackle out where I am forced to look at it.

What we need, or at least what I need, are flaws. That doesn’t mean Kryptonite, before any rabid Superman fan-boys approach, flapping their limp-wristed, clammy little hands in my general direction. Look to the mundane and go from there. Is your character unspeakably badass? Are they the sort of person who could kick the asses of 90% of the population unarmed? Fine! That’s cool, just hamper them enough to make them interesting.

For example:

Meet Jimmerz. Jimmerz is a boxing champion, billionaire, super-genius philanthropist who is capable of anything. Sound interesting? Maybe, at first, but now imagine meeting him. He’s tougher than you, better looking than you, smarter and funnier than you. Though your wife would swear different if she’d had to choose her partner from what’s on paper, she’d be doing him now and not you. And yeah, he’s bigger than you too. In that way.

You would HATE him. Or become his Igor or something, if you swing that way. Loser.

Add any flaw, any flaw at all to the above, and it will make him more interesting. Again, for example;

Meet Jimmerz. Jimmerz is a boxing champion, billionaire, super-genius philanthropist who is capable of anything. Sound interesting? Maybe, at first, but now imagine meeting him. He’s tougher than you, better looking than you, smarter and funnier than you. Though your wife would swear different if she’d had to choose her partner from what’s on paper, she’d be doing him now and not you. And yeah, he’s bigger than you too. In that way. But his left nut is haunted by a former chancellor of the exchequer who constantly screams his latest budget ideas at the top of his lungs.

Or he’s got a radioactive nipple. Or no elbows. Or an ostrich growing out of his ass.

ANYTHING is more interesting than a god made flesh, so for the love of crap don’t make one. There’s no need to just write someone incredible and insert a dark past or something obvious, but remember that characters are people, and people suck. We’ve all got something wrong with us, from the mundane to the harrowingly dreadful, and it is often what is wrong with us that makes us interesting. Sometimes, like it or not, it’s the presence of flaws that make people comfortable in our presence. They equalise us and provide us with opportunities to improve and to learn. They inform and direct us as people and they are essential to your stories.

Without flaws, what are your characters overcoming? Nothing. What are they learning? Very little. Why should we care? We shouldn’t, not even for a moment.

Now, bugger off and write something. I’m going back to sleep.


Progress report on “Spares” and the following novel.

Well I’ve been busy, to say the very least. The novella is very nearly complete and I am simply awaiting feedback from a couple of truly wonderful people (cheques are in the mail, honest) before I can get it totally polished, completed, formatted and ready to publish, which I intend to do via the self publishing route.

Other projects have been leaping up and down in my field of vision but I’ve swatted those aside in favour of going straight into the novel itself, so that when I come to actually publish the novella the novel will be very much in progress. I get the feeling that it won’t take too long to write either, given the level of information and inspiration I have for this book, and I hope to be able to make it available to agents and publishers at some point in either late 2012 or early 2013. The novella will be on sale and will serve as an introduction to the world I’ve created but, of course, the novel will be written in such a way that you won’t have to have read the novella for it all to make sense. I’m doing this in the main to ensure that when I approach an agent or publisher, they won’t be given a product that makes no sense without something published elsewhere, from which they will possibly never see a penny. If I can persuade them to include it as a promotional download or similar than I will, because the novella is a story in its own right and adds something to the story, but no-one’s going to be scratching their heads if they don’t ever see it.

Cool, huh?

In the meanwhile I’m busily planning away and have the beginning of the novel plotted and ready for writing, shifting everything forward several years and shifting the focus of the novel away from the first person and into more familiar third person territory.

Over the next few months I’ll keep you all posted with updates, samples and any news I have about the progress of the novella reaching the weird, digital shelves of Amazon and the like.

You never know, this could just work.


Here’s to the future.

Well, my novella is basically finished from a writing point of view. Sure it needs further editing and this may or may not require a certain degree of rewriting once it’s back from the beta readers, but the story is there. It needs tweaking and finishing but it’s back onto the back-burner for a while as I await the judgement of my fellows, and that means that I have to get on with some other projects.

Now with regards the novella, I do have a comment and a slight retraction to make. I’m not going to be giving it away. I’ve listened to a great deal of feedback from people who think it’s a good idea and those who hate the idea, and given the time to mull it over I’ve sided with those who believe that you shouldn’t give your work away. I place a fairly high value on my own work, possibly through a certain degree of artistic arrogance, and I believe that the story is worth a small amount of your hard earned money. If this annoys, upsets or pisses anyone off (which I doubt, I’ve got a blog readership of about six people) then I apologise, but them’s the breaks I’m afraid. I could have just deleted the post where I discussed this, but at least I’m being honest with you.

Right, and on to the projects.

First of these is a novel set in a less futuristic setting, one that I’ve had bubbling away in the back of my head for some time. It’s a quest based story (groooooan) but one with a little potential I think, and it feels a bit like a process that I need to go through in order to improve my writing. There are many, many linear quest based novels out there and that style is perhaps a little over done in the genre, but as with anything else the real test is to do it and to do it well. Yes it involves a small group out to journey across the world, uncover secrets and some horrible truths and ultimately take down a powerful witch. Yeah yeah, yawn yawn fucking yawn, but you’ll just have to trust me on this, it will not suck and you will enjoy it.

After this will come the novel length sequel to the novella “Spares” which will take the concept, setting and characters and go large scale with it, hopefully with the view to be pimped out to publishers as soon as it’s reached an acceptable level of quality.

I have other plans beyond this, including but not limited to a vampire story (by the time it’s done people will be receptive to a genre faithful tale rather than one that tears up the rulebook for kicks and crowd pleasing) and one that I started and put back down, featuring the angelic hosts and the Grim Reaper.

Throw into the mix my potential (but unconfirmed) attempts to gain access to the Black Library’s open submissions window and I’ve got a busy few years ahead of me. I’m still not decided on whether or not I want to continue the pursuit of writing in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universes, but I’m not ruling it out. This isn’t to sound arrogant or dismissive but success with them would mean a greatly increased workload, which would by necessity mean pushing my other projects into the background in the meanwhile. Now obviously success is far from assured and is indeed quite unlikely for a huge number of reasons, but only a complete dickhead would approach something like that without attempting to succeed and consideration as to what that would actually mean.

I have a lot to think about it would seem, not least of which being finishing this blog post and doing something more productive.

So…

Bye.


Everybody’s got one, or so they tell me…

What I would like, kind sirs and siresses, is an opinion. Not just any old opinion though, before you give me your views on Miliband’s leadership, Kim Kardashian’s arse to brain ratio or the loaded flight capabilities of various breeds of swallow. What I would like to know is your view on naughty language and how it applies to the novella I have in the pipeline.

Now make no mistake, this is not a children’s book. The themes are adult, it contains violence and “scenes which the viewer really bloody well should find disturbing,” including but certainly not limited to dismemberment, physical violence and at least one scene that would put Hannibal Lector off his Chianti. Now I would personally deem foul and often abusive language to be well suited to the environment that I am attempting to portray, but in such discussions in the past it has to be said that I have often found myself in the minority. People seem to have a high tolerance for gore, sex, violence and even gory sexual violence and yet, somewhat oddly I think, not for naughty language.

Now I am certainly, definitely not going to hack the novella apart for the sake of it but I have started to wonder if a slightly “abridged” version might be warranted so as not to alienate some of my potential readership. What I am quite willing to do however is to concurrently release an edited, curse-free version alongside the full novella for those who feel differently to me about what is and is not acceptable. I won’t do this if no-one thinks it is justified and so there, I am asking for your opinion.

Whether via the comments feed, my Facebook account (for those who know me in that twisted vista that we call “real life”) or via @Vampiricchicken over on Twitter, please let me know what you think I should do. Should I stick to my gut feeling and release it as I see it, should I be sensitive and release two versions or should I take my Encyclopaedia Profanica and throw myself into the nearest wood chipper?

Answers on a postcard, please. Or, you know, practically anything BUT a postcard.


The vital first edit/second draft.

A huge thanks to Jonathan Ward this week, that’s him down there on the blogroll if you were wondering, who has returned some absolutely spot-on advice to me about my novella “Spares.” It’s fair to say that there was a fair amount wrong with it, what with it being a rough first draft, written stream of consciousness style and all, but I’m pleased to say that there seems to be a great deal right with it too!

So now I’m onto the first editing process, which I can largely compare to that picture at the top of this post. The majority of what I am doing is cutting out sections and pasting them into a “cutting room floor” document of ideas, quips, dialogue and other bumf that, while not dreadful, simply either doesn’t fit, doesn’t work or interrupts the smooth flow of the story. Now, flow is something that I personally hold to be vital to a story. I like a story to grab you and drag you along for the ride, occasionally dumping you on your arse when there’s something to learn or listen to. I like snappy dialogue, insults that cut to the bone and people that are as real as I can possibly make them. Now in order to maintain a pace that accelerates you towards the finish and then dumps you hard on the other side, gasping for breath and reeling from what you’ve just witnessed, a story needs kicking, chopping, hammering and generally pummelling until it’s in the right shape. At the moment, I don’t have that. It’s tangential, overly introspective at points and a little prone to waffle. Now that’s ok some of the time, but at the moment it simply doesn’t have the clout that I want it to have and I want this story to be the literary equivalent of a haymaker to the temple.

Ouch.

Besides that there are points where I got stuck, didn’t have the right idea and so ploughed on regardless, leaping forward in order to keep going until I reached the end. Now of course I have to go back and sort this out, inserting chunks of story that fit and can be welded in place to strengthen the narrative arc that I’m going for. I have a sub-plot to weave through the story, a whole new scene that I’m writing whenever I’m not working, revising, blogging or preparing my Black Library Live army so I can carve my way through my friends’ armies with gay abandon. That’s like regular abandon, by the way, only with a lot more cushions.

In short I have a lot to do, but have all the time in the world to do it. I’m still tempted to say that this could be done within the month, though probably not ready for release as I simply can’t state categorically that those who have agreed to read it through will be done in time, or that they won’t uncover something dreadful that needs my immediate attention.

For now, I must plough onwards. I have a lot to do in order to fulfil my promise of a free ebook for you all and I like to keep my promises, though deadlines are largely something that happens to other people. The key point there, however, is that the wait should always be worth it.

Alec.


100 Horrors anthology, featuring yours truly.

Take a good look. Isn’t it beautiful? I wish I could say that it was the cover for my soon-to-be-edited novella because, quite frankly, I’m a little bit in love with that picture. A good piece of cover art compliments and enhances the work within, both telling the reader what to expect and adding a little real-life colour to the story. I took one look at this cover and smiled broadly because it really does suit the theme perfectly, and a cover artist who takes a brief and does something so on the money with it is worth their weight in gold.

This is the cover for the soon-to-be-released anthology “100 Horrors!” from Cruentus Libri Press, run and created by one Kevin G Bufton. This anthology consists of no fewer than 100 very, very short stories of 100 or so words each with the stated intent of scaring the pants off you in the blink of an eye! I was one of the plucky keyboard-jockeys to have a story accepted for publication within this fine tome, to be released in ebook and paperback format on the 20th of February this year! This will be my first work to have been accepted for publication and it’s no understatement when I say that I’m extremely excited about it, partly as I happen to know four other people who have had similar (although, in my opinion, lesser) success who are also to be published in this very same book! A huge round of applause for me and a slow clap and single party popper each for the four of them.

Anyway, you can expect to hear me pimping the living hell out of this anthology and I hope to hear that some of you take a look at it. In all seriousness the other four guys I know are damned fine writers all and if that level of quality is anything to go by, it’ll be one hell of a read.