Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles

About seven years ago, I started writing short fiction. Since then, I've written approximately 90 short stories, along with 46 flash fiction works, and seven poems. I'll be the first to admit that a lot of what is available online is NOT my best work. I took a "learn as you go" and "try to get better with each story" approach. I am very glad to be part of a critique group that takes their writing very seriously. About a year ago, I selected 24 stories that I considered among my best and asked a few members of the Horror Writers Association and a few members of Black Hills Writers Group to critique them.

After far more revisions than I expected (!) I am pleased to announce that 18 of my best stories have been polished up and will soon be available in a collection. All of these stories have been previously published. Twelve appeared in print anthologies, five in magazines and one in an online e-zine.

All of these stories have been edited, revised, corrected, and improved. Several of the stories vary drastically from the original versions. I am proud of every story included. At no point do I reread a story and think "well this one is just barely good enough".

I am in the process of proofing the PDF and am still making minor revisions. The title of the collection (if you haven't guessed already) will be BEDTIME STORIES FOR CARRION BEETLES. It will be over 200 pages, and over 50.000 words.

The target release date is September 1st of this year. Cover art is complete. It will be released using Create Space as the publisher.

I will release the Table of Contents some time in July.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Zombie Kong Review

HERE is a link to my review of Zombie Kong. Just finished it. Loved it! Proud to be a part of it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RAY BRADBURY: An Appreciation

This is my humble two cents to drop in the bucket of appreciation and acknowledgement of Ray Bradbury who, we learned today, has passed on. Jetting across universes unknown and undiscovered, I hope. Having adventures beyond our wildest dreams.

To say that Ray Bradbury was a great writer is an understatement. One group of readers will bring up The Martian Chronicles as his best work. Another contingent will say that distinction belongs to Fahrenheit 451, while another immediately thinks of Something Wicked This Way Comes.  The point is, all of it was (and is) brilliant, but we all have our favorites.

For me, the early short stories Ray wrote for Weird Tales and the other pulps are nothing short of breathtaking. The kind of stories that, as a kid, I read and relished, curling up my toes at the gleeful creepiness of each tale.

The kind of stories that, as an adult, I still read and relish. 

 And to think that he was that good at the beginning of his career!

There is more literary magic in the first two pages of Ray's story The Man Upstairs than in many full novels that I've read. There is no skimming here. You can't. Every word is a present to the reader, every sentence is a necklace of gems strung out just for you to read, try out, keep.

The Next in Line, Interim, The Scythe, The Small Assassin, The Emissary, Bang! You're Dead. If you've missed them, read them as soon as possible.

Many of these stories are collected in The October Country. Some day, I hope to find a copy of Dark Carnival, which includes many more tales from this era.

Those stories inspired me to start writing. Someday, I hope to affect someone the way Ray affected me.

In 2006, I wrote a letter to Ray Bradbury. It was a typical fan letter. I gushed. Praised his work. Mentioned some favorites. Just wanted him to know...

But I also mentioned how he had inspired me to write a few stories of my own. I mentioned how I'd just made my first sale ($5, a cause for celebration!) and hoped to write more.

Ray wrote me back.

He drew a funny cartoon face on the envelope and a shaky "R.B." where the return address would be. Inside he inscribed an inkjet-printed photo collage to me:

"Adrian! Onward!"

Then closed with his name and the date. 

Now, for all I know, Ray ALWAYS wrote "Onward!" as part of his inscriptions. In fact, I bet if I looked it up, I could find out. But I don't want to find out. Because for me, I looked at that and said to myself, "Ray Bradbury just told me to keep writing."

With every rejection letter I get, I hear Ray's encouragement: "Onward!"
Every time I think I don't have time to write. "Onward!"
When I think I'm out of ideas. "Onward!"

Any string of adjectives I could use to try to describe his writing would fall short.
And, however indirectly or accidentally, Ray Bradbury inspired me as a writer.

That is why this morning, when I learned of his passing, I just sat there and cried.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Anthology Spotlight: Blood Bound Books

 My fiction is included in four Blood Bound Books anthologies.

Unspeakable is a creature-theme horror anthology.

My story, "Wind, Winter, Wendigo" is included. Jacob lives in tiny Wind, MN and endures the bitter cold of the winter of 1889. He also endures the sudden death of this father. But with the winter ground too hard to dig, what does the undertaker do with the bodies of the deceased until spring?

Murphy Edwards, Monique Bos, Storm Grant and Natalie L. Sin all turned in excellent stories. I didn't think there was a single dud in the entire anthology!

I really enjoy working with Marc, Theresa and the team of editors at BBB. They actually take the time to edit your work, rather than just select it, and always have great ideas on how to improve the story.

 My first appearance in a BBB anthology was actually the first one they released. Night Terrors included my story "Tomorrow's Headline".

Michelle almost leaves her young son, Casey in the car during a quick trip to the drug store for migraine medication. Deciding against it ("that wouldn't be safe!") she leaves him to browse in the toy aisle. Michelle bumps into a strange man and realizes her headache is suddenly gone. But so is Casey. She tries to chase him down, but none of the other customers will let her leave the store.

I really enjoyed the stories by G. Winston Hyatt, Craig Saunders, Lee Clark Zumpe, Barry Napier and Harper Hull. Two other stories I didn't like as much were honorable mentions in The Year's Best Horror, so that shows you how tastes can differ!

An incredible FOUR stories included in the BBB anthology Rock and Roll is Dead received honorable mentions in a more recent edition of The Best Horror of the Year.  Quite a feat for a small press publisher! (Sadly, I didn't make the cut in that one.)

 I can take solace in the fact that I seem to be the only author with four stories in Seasons in the Abyss. This is a seasonal-theme anthology of flash fiction.

"The Red Thing in the Snow" is part of the Winter portion of the anthology. Can something that happens in the near future echo back to the past?

Great stories here from Doree Weller and Monique Bos.

We meet the Easter Bunny in a laundromat in "Wet Clothes." Wait until you see what he's washing!

Springtime terror from Geoff Bagwell, Paul DeCirce and Sean Graham were among my favorites.

"Lost in a Book" is my Summer entry. Grandma is just sure the girls drowned while she read.
Four tremendous stories in a row ended up as my favorites in this section. Thanks to Lorna Keach, Rebecca Brown, Chad McKee and Robert Essig for their great tales.

Finally, my entry "Problem Solving Beneath the Harvest Moon" is part of the Fall section. I ended up doing a lot of research for only a two page story!

Stephen Hill and Douglas Lane had great entries in this section.

Finally, let's talk about "extreme horror".  In the anthology titled D.O.A. NOTHING is off-limits.

After several rewrites and polishes, "Artistic Subject" was accepted. Cassie, a young woman looking for work, visits the home of a wealthy eccentric. His two hobbies are reading classic literature and taxidermy. Turns out, he thinks Cassie would be perfect for his newest piece. According to the editor, here was one of those rare instances where the last line made the story worth inclusion. I think it's appalling, myself, and I can't believe I wrote it!

I loved the stories by J. Grant, Edward Rosic, Glynn Barrass, John McNee and Stacy Bolli. Nice work! This one also features my favorite cover. If you are a jaded horror fan sick of vampires and zombies, be sure to check out D.O.A.!