Sunday, May 20, 2012

Success! "The Wrong Side of the Rainbow" accepted!

Many know the story so far. I originally wrote "The Wrong Side of the Rainbow", a detective story featuring Ramses II and Bernie Clayberg for an anthology that was to be published by The Library of Horror Press. Last year in a surprise move they decided to kill all of their anthologies and concentrate solely on novels. All rights were released back to the authors.

I was very disappointed at the time. I love these two characters. Ramses II, a centuries old pharaoh and self-made living god now mummy, and Bernie Clayberg, a golem made by a team of artisans and mystics. Together they solve mysteries for MCSI, Mythical Crime Scene Investigations. Theirs is a world were mythology sidesteps into ours, the two coexisting, mixing, and oft time clashing. Whenever there is a crime involving mythics, MCSI is called in.

The search for a new publisher began anew. Yesterday it ended. The wonderfully named Rampant Loon Press has happily accepted "The Wrong Side of the Rainbow" and it will appear in a future volume of the ongoing series anthology Stupefying Stories. Ramses and Bernie live!

And this may be just the beginning. When I thanked them and said I had planned a series of stories, perhaps a novel based on these characters, Bruce Bethke, editor of Stupefying Stories, said to send them his way.

I'll be sure to post when "The Wrong Side of the Rainbow" will appear, but in the meantime check out Stupefying Stories and show them some love. And as always, thanks for reading me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

When Superheroes Are An Architect's Best Friend

Ah, the summer disaster movie season is upon us. According to the latest box office reports I just may one of the few people in the entire world who has still has a pulse and has not yet seen "The Avengers". Let me clarify quickly that I plan to. I've been a Joss Whedon fan since Firefly which I regard as possibly the best sci fi series ever. My Star Trek fans are crying "Sacrilege!" But then he created the world of Dr Horrible. So I know "The Avengers" is good, and I will get there. Just not right now.

But I'm getting off track. Again. (Look! A puppy!)

One element that every big blockbuster action flick has is the major climactic battle between the forces of good and the evil forces of evil. "The Avengers" does not disappoint in this. Or so I'm told. In every article, or from every person I talk to. In this motion picture a good portion of New York City is destroyed. But that is just a small price in order to save the world. Or is it?

Last week The Hollywood Reporter asked that very question. They turned to a noted disaster assessment company, Kinetic Analysis Corp, to determine what exactly was the cost of the damage inflicted upon the city during the fight to save it. Their determination? $160 billion.
For context, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks cost $83 billion, Hurricane Katrina cost $90 billion, and the tsunami in Japan last year washed away $122 billion.

Is it worth the price? I think so. I love New York, have visited there a number of times. It is vital to the strength of this country, financially and culturally. Plus I have some very good friends that live and work in the area. They alone are worth that to me.

Professionally a city with that much destruction to its buildings and infrastructure, given that the $160 billion could be found, would be a dream for architects and contractors. Think of all the work! And could we use it. According to the New York Times architecture as a profession is suffering one of the highest unemployment rates of any professional service in the country.  $160 billion would turn that around in an instant.

Where's an evil alien invasion when you need one?

(The Hollywood Reporter article and Kinetic Analysis Corp report can be read here:

I wrote a short story on the theme of monster aftermath for an unfortunately defunct-before-it-was-published anthology. The story is called "Clean Up On Seventh Avenue" and features the brave men and women of MIS Disposal. It was bought, ready for print, and then the rug was pulled out from the anthology entirely. The whole mess was detailed in earlier posts on this blog.  "Clean Up On Seventh Avenue"  is now being considered by another publisher. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

To Really Know Your Characters Kill Them Off

As some of you know, and I wish more of you did and were of the purchasing kind, I like to write. I have a number of published stories, had an agent, a wine label, and even self-published an ebook, my novel for middle aged readers "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door." (Now only 99 cents.) If you follow this blog you've heard about every one of those and you'll hear every hit on my rocky road to success. I promise. Why do you think I have this blog?

But as I'm still novice, at least that's how I look at myself until I get that big time publishing contract, I am continually on the lookout for tips and tricks of the trade. I haven't found the magic formula. But I might have something that will help.

Today let's talk about characterization. How do you create a really moving and deep character for your story or novel? Stick with me and you'll learn a unique and quirky way that just might be the key.

There are hundreds of ways to develop a strong character. If you've read the magazines and books, attended the conferences, and watched the webinars, they all tell you to write your characters biography. Get to know them. Where were they born? What was their family life like? Do they have any talents? Would make anything? And on and on. I have a list of over 50 questions that I've gathered from numerous sites and classes. If you'd like to see it, drop me a line and I'll send it to you.

But everybody does it that way. What if you bored or tired of doing it that way? Want to try something new?

A few days ago I got an email from AARP, their daily news digest. (Yes, I'm a member and have been for 7 years. Do the math.) An article caught my attention. It was called "The Do-It-Yourself Obituary" by Elaine Appleton Grant.
 "When you die, what will your obituary say? Leave it to others and you might get boilerplate: cause of death, biography, survivors and where to send donations. Wouldn’t you rather have your life story told the way you’d like it?"
The basis of the article is simple. Large numbers of narcissistic Boomers can't leave their memory to chance, so they are taking care of their obituary themselves. The author of the article tells how they are doing it.

Some are hiring professional obit writers. Some are writing it themselves. They are taking classes, yes, classes in writing your own obituary.

There are even kits. The article talks about Obitkit. One workbook is $20 but if you buy 10 you get one free. Wow. The only people that might need 21 obituaries are Doctor Who or the members of an apocalyptic cult. (How fast can you write after drinking the Kool-Ade?)

All of this got me thinking. Yes, it does happen. I can apply this to my writing. Instead of writing a biography of a potential character, what if I write their obituary? I'm not talking the daily newspaper variety which gives you only a couple of brief paragraphs. That's fine for minor background characters. For your main guys and gals I'm talking the New York Times variety, feature article stuff.  It has all the pieces required of a good bio, a brief life story, survivors, with the addition of what other characters might have thought of the character.

One of the truest notion of a quality life, or lack of in some cases, is how we'll be remembered by others. Why else would so many people be wanting to write their obituary themselves? Is it to help those left behind or an attempt to rewrite history?

An obit also tells how they die. That tells a lot about a character. Is it at a ripe old age? Or is fast and young? Is it violent or from sickness? Was it expected? Don't be afraid if your character's death is a surprise in the story. Go ahead and write that obit. You know how they'll die anyway. It's no surprise to you.

Give it a try. It's a great writing exercise. Instead of writing a stogy biography, write a front page article. Have fun with it.

And if you get carried away you can join the team and write your own. Maybe buy an Obitkit. There's only one thing to remember, the Obitkit doesn't come with and that's a guarantee that your loved ones will actually use what you've written.

I'll read you later. adios

UPDATE: After posting I realized this was my 100th post on this blog. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and remember: Keep reading. It makes your brain juicy.