Tag Archives: writing

The Vague Book

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.


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ICBM: Intercontinental Bibliophilic Missile.

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.


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Josef Matulich, blog guest & give awayer

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…

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Come See the Invisible Rabbit

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:


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:



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.





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Ignore what the Lady Mime Says: I’m not Dead

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.

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Wordslinger Shootout: Round Two

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.


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“How dead should I make this guy?” My 48 Hour Film Adventure.

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.


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Huckster Week

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.”

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Escalating Author Neuroses in the War Against Evil Incarnate

All writers, like all cats, are neurotic. It comes of alchemically combining pieces of your soul and life experience into some amazing simulation of life and thrusting it out into the word for approval and profit. The stress of the process as well as the pain of exceedingly personal rejection generate enough tics and twitches for a dozen Siamese cats.

I admit to all of them, but I am convinced of the saving grace that I have one more coping mechanism than neurosis, though it might be one less. It’s hard to tell. Here is my Jacob’s Ladder of Escalating Neuroses and the story of how the latest almost had me crawling into the grasp of Evil Incarnate.

1.) Can I Come Up With a Decent Story?
Early on, writers obsess about being able to write a good story, an original story, a worthwhile story. Napkins, paper placemats and Moleskin notebooks get filled with snippets of plot until something gels. The only way around this is to work up stories, by the dozens if necessary, and let them ferment in your backbrain. If you are not widely read, Google “clichés” to check if it has all been done too many times before. Don’t spend a lot of time talking them out with friends and relatives, because that leads to Neurosis #2:

2.) Can I Get It Done?
Talking about what you’re going to write, is not writing. Obsessing out loud about a plot reduces the needed back pressure to facilitate your vomiting your brain’s contents onto the page. The only way to combat your neurosis about finishing stories is to finish stories. Rewriting them a few times helps with Neurosis #3:

3.) Is This Total Crap?
The short answer is “No”. Nobody’s story is total crap. The unfortunate/scary thing is that it is guaranteed that someone out there WILL think it’s crap. That is the nature of taste and free will. All you can do is refine your storytelling and your style to point that you don’t cringe at what you wrote the day before. The Mythbusters proved that you can polish a turd, and somebody will think it could make a lovely paperweight. This leads to Neurosis #4:

4.) Can I Get It Into Enough People’s Hands?
Being published by a small press with limited means has encouraged my neurotic writer brain to engage in some fairly spammy behaviors in the few weeks since my book dropped. I plead temporary insanity on that and promise to cut way back. But I still feel the need to try to get the book under as many eyes as possible to make it a success. This is what lead to the whole Evil Incarnate thing.

My wife and I had been involved with a convention for a very long time; we actually met there. Things got ugly and we left, but not before the leader took a shot at us through our dead daughter. Perhaps it is libelous/slanderous to refer to that person as Evil Incarnate, but I’m not using names. Besides, the point of this story is not what they did, but what I was willing to do.

The convention itself is of negligible importance anymore, but it still had a few hundred sets of eyes for my new book. I had worked myself up, under the influence of Neurosis #4, to seriously considering attending it for publicity, in spite of the insult to my daughter’s memory and the pain it caused my wife. She even supported my decision because she knew how important my first book was to me. Fortunately, I came to my senses before going through with that plan.

It’s fine to be neurotic and a writer. It’s almost a prerequisite. Just keep an eye out for who in your life your escalating neuroses might injure.

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My Camp Arcanum Soundtrack

A few other authors have posted the soundtracks they used for writing their books. Since Camp Arcanum started out as a screenplay-that-wouldn’t-die-or-at-least-stop, I felt a soundtrack would be called for. Years ago, while it was still in process of conversion from screenplay to novel, it created a playlist on my iPod for this. An hour or two of themed music is inspirational, it helps to maintain the early levels of excitement. Also, some of these songs actually figure in the plot of the book. This list was the soundtrack for our book release party at Milennicon, besides. Here is a partial list, with notes

The Bee and the Bird

This was a strange one, released after I had already completed the first draft of the story, but still somehow echoing my heroine Brenwyn’s words and attitudes.

The Fixer
Pearl Jam

This also came out after I had written Marc, the ultimate tool-guy and fixer. Though it does not give me the same feeling of emotion resonance for the character that “Witch” does, it is nice to have a theme song for the hero too.

All Soul’s Night
Lorena McKennit

A no-brainer here, naked pagan rituals around a bonfire, what else could you choose?

It’s Cool to Be A Witch

I used a snippet of this for a public display of Wiccan Karaoke, but I never could get clearance for it. I had to use something of my own finally.

Boiled in Lead

Rowdy, raunchy Celtic Punk with Russian influences. My Ren Faire libertine Eleazar cranks up this song when trying to mask his thoughts from a telepathic witch.

Farewell to Tarawathie
Judy Collins

Can’t say too much about this one in the story: spoilers. I used the Judy Collins version which included whale song at first. I need to find a cleaner version, the whales became intrusive and gimmicky after a while.

Jethro Tull

When the men of Camp Arcanum are face with an invisible remnant from the time before Creation, what better music than a song about Fear Incarnate?

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