I have the great honor this week to be the subject of the weekly author interview at the website Horror Tree. I was very pleased to discover that the interviewer Ruschelle Dillon took time to cyberstalk me and compose original questions just for me. So if any of you out there are curious about my previous life as a mime or a special effects artist, feel free to drop in at the link below:
Tag Archives: writing
I am in an uncomfortable place for an indie author. My previous publisher pulled my Arcanum Faire books upon reversion of rights on February 1st. (It was an amicable separation, just like me and my first wife). My new publisher is still securing an editor for my upcoming tale of the Squirrel Apocalypse. I am only waiting on a really cool cover from excellent comic artist Seth Lyons to self-publish Camp Arcanum. Unfortunately, I don’t have the narcissism and unmedicated gall to ask him to put the cover ahead of his ant-related injuries to his hands and the repairs of his parent’s home from the Memorial Day tornadoes. That only proves I don’t have what it takes to be a small press publisher. (Did I tell you it was a really, really amicable separation? I signed a paper.)
This all leaves me with no reason to scream “BUY MY BOOK!” There is nothing out there to buy. I guess I’ll just have to be an adult, even on the weekend. This is how it looks:
6:20 am. Cats and bladder go off. Don robe and slippers.
6:25 am. Feed rodents and cats. Do NOT feed rodents to cats. Secure first cup of coffee and first pill.
6:35 am. Fiddle on computer until brain engages.
7:20 am. Brain still not engaged; will have to go on like every other day of my life. Avoid waste by eating last Apple Fritter for breakfast and taking the rest of my pills with even more coffee.
8:00 am. Wife, being a reasonable human being, sleeps until absolutely necessary to awaken. I don jeans and tee-shirt as she prepares for the day. (dressing much earlier than usual for the weekend)
8:20 am. Wife leaves to care for friends’ cats before opening our store. I open garage door for her and The Broom.
8:25 am. Since I am outdoors and not wearing bathrobe, I till herb and vegetable gardens.
8:45 am. Transplant invasive comfrey from last season into the shame corner of the herb garden, just below the gas meter. Give them a stern talking to while doing so.
9:00 am. Run a load of laundry and calculate the logistics of hanging damp clothes around the house if the dryer malfunctions again. More harsh language.
9:15 am. Replace old whiteboard with new preformatted project whiteboard. Transfer data and magickal glyphs. Rough out this week’s blog post and about a quarter page of my steampunk WIP. I feel the power of the dry erase flowing through my veins.
10:30 am. Leave cats in charge of house and stop by the credit union drive-thru to deposit check from bookstore. (Yes, people actually pay me for my books, some times.) Bank is usually closed by the time I get free of the day job, so I am actually conducting business when I should be home watching cartoons and wolfing down Lucky Charms.
11:08 Meet Sheldon at theater to catch John Wick 3. Last instance of adult thought for the weekend.
I am almost finished with Book Three of my Arcanum Faire trilogy, something I have been working on for the last two years. If there is going to be any catalog of work left when I go paws to Jesus, I’ve got to turn things out faster than that.
As an exercise in speed, hopefully without sacrificing quality, I am taking a fallow screenplay project and turning it into a novella. I won’t tell you which of my old stories, but it was one that I abandoned when a big name director made a pitch trailer for essentially the same film. He has done nothing with it since then, but I am moving on.
The plan is to have it written, re-written, and formatted for self-publication within three months. This should provide a glowing sense of achievement and another item for sale at event tables by Halloween.
In the first two days, in spite of three trips downtown to the Pride Festival and Father’s Day activities, I was able to lay down the first chapter. A whopping eight-hundred words, but eight-hundred more than I had on Friday.
Keep your eyes on this space for news of my progress.
This week a dear friend flew in from Japan and I was able to put my two books in her hands. Once she gets home, that will be four continents where I will have a literary presence, as sparse as it may be.
You don’t have to fly twenty-five hours to get my books. In fact, if you live in Southern Ohio, I will be coming to you. Friday evening, I will be at the Grand Opening of Keystone Books & Gifts in Circleville, between 6 and 7 p.m.. Come down and you will be able to see the sights before all the pumpkin tourists arrive.
Saturday, the good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise, I will be with my publisher Eric Beebe and other members of the Post Mortem Press Cadre to sell and sign books. Our own if we can, or forge others if we have to. My friend Seth Lyons will be there and this event is billed as Stan Lee’s last appearance ever. Join the fun, this will be my third year in a row.
This week we have been busy on the publicity front. The nice people at Dread Central have arranged to publish an excerpt from Camp Arcanum and give away an autographed copy of the novel of sex, magick, and power tools complete with the special shovel and pentacle charms. You can catch that here:
I also get to do an author’s confession and electronic giveaway on I Smell Sheep, a blog near and dear to me for my son’s nickname Sheep. Those goodies are not up yet, but here is their main site:
and you thought the undead skinless bunnies were all made up…
When I was a tween, I was a weird kid in suburban Sacramento. Among the many things that set me apart from all that was good and normal, I was heavily involved in the 4H rabbit project. It was not only that we had a few bunnies in the backyard. Hobbit Haven Farms, as my father named our one and a half acre spread, had up to a hundred pedigreed rabbits at any time. These were not only the prosaic Californians and New Zealand Whites raised for fur and meat, but also the fifteen to twenty pound Flemish Giants which outweighed most people’s cats. I bred and raised these fluffy creatures, and showed them at official American Rabbit Breeders Association events. I even taught one Giant named Mickey to play dead.
As you might have guessed, I did not get a proper date with girl until I was almost out of high school.
Each summer, 4H would have livestock exhibits for a few weeks at the State Fair. Lucky and responsible child that I was, I got to be one of the three or four kids that watched everyone else’s rabbits for the time of the exhibit. This involved water and feeding all the animals and watching to be sure that no-one walked by a carried off a rabbit that was not their own. It was not very stimulating work; during the average day, there might have been two to three dozen visitors.
The rabbit exhibit was housed in an old wooden barn where a multitude of pigeons nested in the rafters. One year, a baby pigeon got pushed from its nest and wound up in our rabittry. We put the bald, quivering thing into one of the empty cages and came up with a bizarre plan to alleviate our boredom.
Starting well outside the rabbit exhibit’s barn, we posted hand-made signs which read:
COME SEE THE INISIBLE RABBIT!
Arrows on the signs pointed passers-by into the barn. At the entrances, more signs pointed visitors into the center of the exhibit. Along the cages, more hand made signs egged people on to their goal. That was the cage which housed the foundling squab. A very large hand-made sign proclaimed:
BEHOLD THE INVISIBLE RABBIT!
AND ITS COMPANION, THE INFANT VULTURE “GRONK”!
It was ridiculous, but it pulled in two or three times the normal number of visitors that day. As they came, my friends and I would regale them with stories of the rabbit’s activities and his more visible avian roommate, who was promoted from pigeon to a far more exciting bird. Of course, no-one expected to see an invisible rabbit, but our sincerity and industry encouraged strangers to take a look and engage for a moment. It was in some ways a kind of lunatic magick that gave everyone a smile.
That’s what I want to remember about book promotion.
My first novel Camp Arcanum came out last March. With a minimal budget, I set out the equivalent of gaudy hand-made signs to pull readers into my world, regaling them with the stories of the characters only I could see. Six months in, though, I began to let up. I was afraid I was annoying people. I didn’t entirely believe the rabbit was there.
I pushed on past that, connecting through social media and live events. Feedback came in on the book, some times strangers saying that they didn’t normally like “that kind of book” but they enjoyed mine. Other authors, ones that didn’t owe me money or favors, praised my work. As “Gronk” the foundling vulture napped in its nest, I began to catch the outline of our invisible rabbit.
In the nineteen-eighties and early nineties, before I became the dour man-in-black with a handlebar mustache you see in my profile pictures, I was a mime. I was goofy and loose-limbed and adept at falling down on all sorts of surfaces. I even had rainbow suspenders. Though not working enough to support a middle-class lifestyle, I could earn as much as ninety dollars an hour. Not bad for a long-haired, silent leaping gnome. I became an extremely minor celebrity in Columbus Ohio.
Toward the end of my career, I was approached by a young woman who wanted to perform as a mime, but with her act being informed with the light of her Christian faith. I didn’t exactly register how that was going to be done. Still, I gave her what advise and encouragement I could.
The upheaval in my life at that time, along with the increasing number of pains in my back and joints, dulled my enthusiasm for performing. Slowly, the jobs started drying up. It wasn’t just that my normal contacts began to forget me. The aspiring lady mime had begun to tell my former clients that I had left town, or even died. That were her actions illumined by her faith.
Now I’m primarily a writer, I have learned by the mistakes of my former occupation the importance of reasonable and sustained self-promotion, because otherwise the people who might buy your stuff will think your dead. So here I am, telling you I’m not dead.
My first novel, Camp Arcanum is a horror/comedy about sex, magick and power tools. It has been available on Amazon and B&N since March 2014 to modest sales and very satisfying reviews. My publisher, Post Mortem Press, was confident enough in it to contract its sequel, Proserpina’s Bower. That will be available May 2015. If you’re in the market for a couple of smart, funny books, I know where you can get them at a reasonable price.
And I’m not dead.
Sorry that I missed the first round. Andrew Nienaber, the sickest sunavabitch in the Post Mortem Press cadre and there is no small amount of competition for that accolade, won the head to head competition against Ken MacGregor. Their secret ingredient was: “Ice”.
The second bracket is live. The competitors are KT Jayne and Aaron Besson and their writing prompt is “Wire Brush.” Both stories are horrific. You should hop over, read and vote. Enjoy.
I had the luck of being involved with Team Ondo this year for the 48 Hour Film when they drew the plumb topic of Dark Humor. Usually, I provide make-up and props for these wind sprint competitions, but this time I got to contribute to the script as well. Without spoiling any surprises, I helped shoot a cadaver in a Bluetooth enabled coffin. The young actor was supposed to be in his late thirties, so I ran the middle ground between making him look older and making him look “good” as a mortician would.
It was a fun time except for the staying up until two-thirty a.m. to work on the script part. (I was only one of three, so I can only take credit for a few funny lines). The whole cast and crew worked their butts off to get the piece in under the wire, especially John Ondo. The short films will be presented at the Gateway Theater Monday the 28th and Tuesday the 29th. Ours, “Grave Undertakings” will be Monday at 8:30 p.m. Hop over to Facebook to get more details.
Authors do two things: write books and mercilessly flog books. I got the chance to do the latter twice in the last week at two wildly different venues.
I started last Wednesday afternoon with the Ohio Writer’s Guild at Mozart’s Bakery. The place is large for a bakery, previously having been an oriental carpet store and a recording studio before that. We were given one of the larger halls that would have accommodated fifty to seventy five people. We were eight to ten authors and their significant authors. I had my film-maker friend Sheldon and Kit as my entourage.
We all sat, and sipped coffee or tea and stared at each other across the few tables set up with books. I was perhaps the second or third youngest author there. My novel of sex, magick and power tools certainly did not fit in with the multiple inspirational memoirs and family friendly books with poodles.
I think the only one who sold anything was the bakery.
Swinging over to the other pole, Kit and I spent last Saturday at the Printers Alley Lit Fest in downtown Chicago. The crowd with Post Mortem Press brought their best books and their “A” game to sell them. We had six authors Chris Larsen, Brian Dobbins, Cina Pelayo, Michael Matula, Max Booth II and the publishers Eric Beebe and Stephanie Kania-Beebe.
We were tucked beneath a tree on a sidewalk, situated between a vape store and the tent for the Mystery Writers Association. People who actual bought and read books paraded by in a steady stream.
Kit quickly demonstrated her sales technique refined in convention huckster rooms and our vintage/costume store:
“What kind of books do you like to read?”
It’s important to not give them a question they can answer “no” to like “Do you like horror books?” or “Do you like the weird stuff displayed before you on the table?”
Some answered, “I like all different kinds of books.” To that we could answer: “You’re in luck, these are some very different books.” A little probing and pressing finds the horror or mystery or non-fiction the reader needs.
If the potential buyer wasn’t overwhelmed with the beauty and quality of the product, Kit followed up with a second line of attack:
“We have the authors of the books here, and they’d be glad to sign their books for no extra charge.”
The authors would jockey for position, even offering to sign other people’s books. The buyer’s fate was sealed.
At the Lit fest, we picked up on Kit’s techniques quickly, selling each other’s books and outselling Post Mortem Press’s clearance bin.
As we experimented with new techniques, huckstering became street theater. I juggled to garner attention and Max made up a sign to pitch “Toxicity” along the lines of “I am poor and there is a big lizard in my backyard. Buy my book so I can feed it.”
One of the festival staffers approached me about “the weird guy” that was lurking near our table.
“Don’t worry, he’s with us,” I assured the staffer, “and it’s a weird book.”