Check it out:
(Click on image to enlarge)
Cover art by Joslyn Cain
Cover design by Chris Kent
(Release date: June 15, 2013)
Posted in book launch, Books, coming soon, Dark fantasy/horror, e-book, fiction, independent publisher, independent writer, indie writer, Literature, new literary fiction, New release, new short fiction, short story collection, Surrealism, suspense, writing, tagged Black Dog Press, Books, cover art, Dark fantasy, fiction, independent writing, indie publishing, Literature, new book, New release, short story collection, surreal on May 22, 2013 | 6 Comments »
(Click on image to enlarge)
Cover art by Joslyn Cain
Cover design by Chris Kent
(Release date: June 15, 2013)
Posted in author blog, Black Dog Press, Books, Dark fantasy/horror, fiction, free fiction, horror story, independent publisher, independent writer, indie writer, Literature, Prose poems, Reading, short story, Surrealism, writer, tagged Books, fiction, flash fiction, Franz Kafka, free reading, literary fiction, Literature, prose poem, short story, Stromata: Prose Works, surreal on October 22, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Once back at my place she plays it coy scuttling under the couch until I menace her with a can of Raid using it to steer her toward the bedroom antennae twitching in excitement crawling up the edge of my bedspread chittering as I run my fingers along her polished carapace stroking her thorax her withered ornamental wings fluttering mandibles dug into my pillow in insectile ecstasy while I prepare to mount her probing for anything resembling a vagina wondering if she uses protection and if not if the pupa will look anything like me.
* * * * *
I’m not going back to you. I’m gone. I’m outta here. You won’t find me. It’ll be like we never met. Just another face in the crowd. On a forgotten street. In a strange country. One of the disappeared. Yeah. Lost in time and space. I wasn’t born in the first place. Back to the womb. Stillborn. No. Aborted. A puddle of pink flesh. Gristle and blood. Dumped in an incinerator. Reduced to ash. Floating in the troposphere. Burned by the sun. Ultraviolet radiation. A cancer on your body.
* * * * *
These are two of my favorite short prose pieces, excerpted from my recently released volume Stromata: Prose Works (1992-2011).
For ordering information, please go here.
Photo credit: Sherron Burns
Posted in author blog, Black Dog Press, book launch, Books, coming soon, Horror, independent publisher, independent writer, indie writer, Literature, Live concert, movie, new literary fiction, New release, Poetry, publishing, Reading, Surrealism, traditional publishing, writer, writing, writing life, tagged author reading, book launch, Canadian literature, film of live reading, live reading, New release, Poetry, prose on October 5, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
A memorable evening last night: we launched my two new collections, New & Selected Poems and Stromata to an enthusiastic audience and, I add (much to my relief), there were no glitches or screwups on my part. I read for just over 35 minutes and then took questions from those in attendance. Great questions too, folks seeking clarification on my status as an independent author and also asking me about the changes in my writing over the past 25 years, among other things.
I’ll post some pictures ASAP but we also had two cameras running so in the next couple of weeks we’ll be uploading the entire reading on to YouTube where people can tune in and see me in action.
Without a trace of humbleness, I can tell you that there aren’t too many authors in this country who perform their work as well as I do. I take my responsibilities as an entertainer very seriously; I have been to too many readings where the authors have forgotten that they must also be performers. When I hit that podium, it’s my intention to blow people away, destroy their preconceptions, make it a night they won’t soon forget. And usually I succeed.
Thanks to everyone who came out on a chilly autumn night and an especially big THANK YOU to my production crew—Sherron, Sam, Sean, Micah—for their hard work.
Watch for the finished film, I really believe it captured one of the best readings I’ve ever done.
Man, was I hot…
Posted in amateur writers, author blog, Books, Dark fantasy/horror, fiction, Horror, humor, independent publisher, independent writer, indie writer, Literature, Opinions and Rants, personal, publishing, Reading, Science fiction, self-publishing, Surrealism, Thomas Pynchon, traditional publishing, Vladimir Nabokov, wannabe writers, writer, writing, writing life, tagged advice to writers, Amanda Hocking, Books, E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, independent writer, Literature, Q & A, questions to an author, self-publishing, Stephenie Meyer, traditional publishing, trolls, words of advice, writing life on September 29, 2012 | 2 Comments »
I’ve put together a short roster of the best of the best of these queries and my responses (though, in some cases I’ve pared the original question down and added more detail to my replies).
Here are the top ten:
What’s the difference between calling yourself a “self-publisher” and an “independent author”?
In a word, talent. Oh, and professional credentials. Oh, and the seriousness with which you approach your craft.
Before I started my own imprint back in 1990, I’d already received a Canada Council grant and published a good number of tales in various venues around the world. I toiled every day on my writing and though the money was almost nonexistent, I didn’t care, it was all about becoming the best writer I could possibly be. I was focused, obsessed with my work. I created Black Dog Press because I detected a dearth of vision and intelligence among the editors I was dealing with and since I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t take rejection lying down, I decided to empower myself, rather than accept the verdict of dingbats.
Most self-publishers, however, are hobbyists, part-timers, dolts with little knowledge of what entails good writing, they merely want to see their name on a book, regardless if it’s any good. They don’t labor over their work, endlessly polishing and editing, growing and developing as artists. Such notions are beneath them. Some have the decency to confine themselves to giving copies of their amateurish efforts to friends and family and I have no bone to pick with them. It’s the morons who’ve written a memoir about their so-called interesting life or a spin-off novel lifted from some popular franchise and are deluded enough to believe they are “real” writers that raise my ire.
Why are you such an asshole?
Yes, I’ve received a number of communications along these lines, usually from the aforementioned amateurs and wannabes. They demand that I take their vampire porn or zombie splatter or “poor me” memoirs seriously and resent the notion of applying professional standards (y’know, like spelling, syntax, grammar) to their abominable tripe.
To them, there’s no difference between great writing and garbage, since such standards are arbitrary and unfair (usually they have trouble with big words like “arbitrary”, but I digress). As I’ve written previously, I have nothing against aspiring writers, beginners, folks who genuinely care about the printed word and want to create the best work they can. It’s the ones who foolishly believe their 10-book vampire series (released as super cheap/free e-books to inflate their “sales”) is imbued with true genius that I take exception to…and vilify accordingly. They read shit, they watch shit, they write shit. I dismiss (and diss) them out of hand. They are part-time turd-peddlers and pretenders and they deserve nothing but contempt. And I give it to them…in spades.
How much money do you make?
Seriously? Dude, you think I’m gonna open my bank records to you? Let’s just say that if you got into writing (or any art) for the money, you’re a fucking prostitute, and I mean the kind of gutter trash that solicits around public toilets and drops to their knees at the slightest indication of praise or approval.
I doubt I’ll ever become rich from my writing but a number of my favorite writers lived and died in poverty and anonymity, yet their body of work out-lives them and most of their popular contemporaries. I’m in this for the long haul and will trust posterity to determine my stature as an artist. I’ve stated on numerous occasions that I’d rather have a million readers than a million dollars and anyone who knows me is well aware that I’m not joking or resorting to hyperbole. I’m an author’s author…and it’s unlikely that the fuckwits who read Fifty Shades of Grey will have much affinity for my work.
No regrets there.
You’ve been called an “elitist”–do you agree?
Yup. No question. I place high standards on my work, set the bar higher and higher with each new effort. I don’t confine myself to formula and refuse to cater to anyone’s expectations. Sales figures (see above) are irrelevant, the most important thing is releasing a work that is a celebration of the best in literature, a novel, poem or short story that pushes me to the limits of my abilities and sometimes beyond.
I write with intelligence and insight and I demand that from every film, book or artwork I see. I don’t waste my time on “popcorn movies”, mind candy or escapist entertainment. I feed my spirit and get inspired by innovative, original work.
Are you a horror writer? A fantasy or science fiction writer? How do you categorize yourself?
Well, I don’t. Not really. I utilize some of the devices and tropes from all three of the genres you mentioned but only to further the aims of my storylines. I suppose you could also call me a fabulist or surrealist…but I think any niches or slots are distinctly unhelpful when it comes to work as singular and unusual as mine.
I’m a literary writer, that’s the way I perceive myself. As for the rest…
I really think you’d like my writing. Can I send some of my stuff your way to critique?
No. Absolutely not. It’s not my role to be your editor or ego booster. Real writers write and that’s that. A thousand rejections and the opinions of others should have absolutely no effect on you if you’re truly devoted to the calling. Nabokov talked about “writing in defiance of all the world’s muteness” and that’s advice you should take to heart. Write and write and write. If you need feedback, there are plenty of opportunities for that through local writing groups and guilds and God knows how many on-line venues where up and coming writers gather to talk turkey and swap story samples. But leave the pros alone. We have our own schedules, deadlines and pressing projects. Don’t annoy us with your self-centered, egotistical lobbying.
You seem to genuinely hate traditional publishing and your harsh language must have drawn their attention. Don’t you worry about ruining your chances of becoming a truly famous writer?
Yes, I’ve heard through the grapevine that some of my remarks have made poobahs in publishing extremely cranky with me. How dare I question their intelligence, their professionalism, their psychopathology and their integrity? But, see, I’ve dealt with these bird-brains (editors, agents, publishers) for over twenty years and as I wrote in a recent post on RedRoom, I despise the vast majority of them. I hope I run into a few of the biggest arseholes before my arthritic hands wreck my chances of punching their fucking lights out. A substantial proportion of the people who decide what books get published are too stupid to be trusted with sharp objects and should be, if there was any justice in the world, employed as assistant managers of a fast food restaurant, a job more befitting their low intelligence quotient and lousy inter-personal skills.
As for being famous…it just isn’t a priority. Obviously.
I want to become an independent author too–how do I get started?
First of all, I wish you’d take a long, hard look at your work and decide, as objectively as possible, if you have anything to contribute to literature. Is your writing really that unique and unprecedented? Is it even literate? Have you spent years learning the craft of editing, ruthlessly paring and polishing your poetry/prose until it shines? There are quite enough bad, self-published books out there, why contribute to the dung pile?
But, really, if you’re determined, there are sites you can go to for advice (a couple are on my blog roll). A good ol’ Google search under “independent writing and publishing” will probably take you somewhere helpful. It’s a long, arduous process and the learning curve can be steep. And once your book is published, then you’re faced with marketing and distribution—and good luck getting your self-published offering into most book stores. I still find it a chore and I’ve been at it a long time.
Why are you so jealous of writers more successful than you (i.e. Amanda Hocking, Stephenie Meyer, E.L. James)?
Jealous of…? Er, no, I’m not jealous of rich writers or sub-literate authors who manage to score a book deal. Literary whores with the skill set of a Grade Eight diarist and the aesthetics of a village idiot. Personally, I’m envious of scribes whose talent leaves me gasping like a fish washed up on some sandy shore. I’m referring to giants like Thomas Pynchon, James Crumley, Don DeLillo, Annie Dillard—artists of the highest caliber, whose books will stand the test of time. I labor in the shadow of greatness. Daunting? You betcha. But it’s a challenge I accept every time I enter my home office, sit at my desk and commence another day of work. I crave to be an author of stature. And that has nothing to do with the size of my bank account.
I sense you’re a lonely, bitter, isolated man. Is that an accurate representation?
I’m still chuckling over this one. I don’t think the correspondent in question was trying to be offensive or “trolling”, merely curious and so my response was quite tolerant (for me).
I’ve been a loner all my life and require little in the way of companionship. I belong to no professional writing organizations, nor do I seek out other authors to befriend or chat up. I’ve been happily married for over 20 years and have two teenage sons. Between my work and my family, there’s little time left over for leisure or company. It’s just never been a priority to me. I have a small, intimate circle of friends who are fiercely loyal and who have been around me long enough to inspire my affection and trust. They understand my hectic schedule and introspective lifestyle and place no demands on me. But they also know I’m the kind of guy who’d walk through a wall of fire for a loved one and would defend a pal to my dying breath. It’s the Scotch/Irish in me, I suppose. The rage, the violence…and the passion I bring to every aspect of my life. Those who know and love me respect that and tolerate the long silences that are part and parcel of my calling.
As for everyone else…who cares what they think or believe? They don’t know me and I don’t spare a moment for their views and opinions.
* * * * *
Thanks for the questions and feedback. My email address is email@example.com.
Always pleased to hear from you…
Posted in author blog, Black Dog Press, book launch, Books, coming soon, Dark fantasy/horror, edge fiction, fiction, Horror, independent publisher, independent writer, indie writing, Kindle, Literature, new literary fiction, New release, new short fiction, Poetry, Prose poems, publishing, satire, Short Stories, short story collection, Surrealism, writer, writing, tagged Books, Chris Kent, cover art, flash fiction, Literature, New & Selected Poems, new book, new poetry collection, New release, Poetry, Prose poems, satire, Stromata, surreal on August 24, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Stromata: Prose Works (1992-2011) includes the creme de la creme of my short prose pieces (some folks call them prose poems). These are brief (usually under 500 words) narrative works, often quite surreal, twisted, satirical and, frankly, vicious. These bits are perfect for performing at readings and frequently provoke gasps and, seconds later, gales of laughter. Some of my favorites are in Stromata: “Cranes”, “A.I.”…material that hasn’t been in print and available to readers for many, many moons. And some new pieces that, I think, show a progression in terms of themes and my approach to the subject matter.
I’ve said it before but here it is again: I love these two thin volumes. While books like The Last Hunt and Of the Night reflect my skills as a storyteller, the collected poems and prose poems prove that I can “dangle” artistically with the best of them.
Dangle? Sorry, that’s a term that might only be familiar to hockey fans. If a player can really fly on the ice, skate fast and stickhandle you right out of your jock, we say, “man, look at that guy dangle”. It’s like a whistle of appreciation.
I hemmed and hawed about it but there will be an e-book and Kindle version of Stromata (unlike the poems). Frankly, the books are so beautiful, who would want to settle for electronic copies? Why not get the real thing and have two lovely tomes that you can treasure forever?
Chris Kent did both covers and, I’m telling you, his book designs just keep getting better and better. He seems to understand intuitively what I’m looking for, the “less is more” mentality I apply to every aspect of my life. Chris is a delight to work with—no huge ego, just a desire to execute covers that are artful and eye-grabbing and irresistible.
Both the Selected Poems and Stromata retail at $12.00 (U.S.A. & Canada) and they each clock in at around 116 pages. Slim…but there’s a lot of power packed into those little gems.
New & Selected Poems is available now, today, this very instant…the release date for Stromata is September 20th.
More info to come…
(Click on covers to see larger versions)
Posted in author blog, free reading, independent publisher, independent writing, indie writer, Literature, Poetry, Reading, Surrealism, tagged contemporary verse, free reading, poem, poem for the day, Poetry, surreal on June 27, 2012 | 1 Comment »
“THIS DOOR IS ALARMED”
& that window refuses to
hold out false hope
that those walls can
stand the strain
or this floor bear
C. Burns (June, 2012)
Posted in author blog, Books, fiction, free fiction, independent writing, indie writer, inspiration, Literature, short story, Surrealism, writer, writing, tagged Adrian Villar Rojas, Captain Ahab, flash fiction, Moby Dick, prose poem, whale sculpture on May 26, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Ahab stalks it still, through the swollen underbrush, its trail wide and easy to follow, marked by pulverized tree trunks, a long, deep, snaking rut in the soft loam of the forest floor.
He will follow it to the very gates of Perdition, if necessary, his hate a goad, relentless and all-consuming.
Hobbling along in the wake of the great whale, knowing it is somewhere ahead, moving easily across the earth, surging forward with powerful thrusts, swimming through seas of bright green.
* * * * *
Yes, I know some of you might recognize this snippet from a recent Facebook post but I couldn’t help reprinting it here, for those who missed it. It’s probably my favorite prose piece of the past few weeks. Sherron sent me some photos of Adrian Villar Rojas’ elegant sculpture and I immediately scribbled out a response. It gave me goosebumps once I finished it.
This one just feels…right.
Posted in author blog, Black Dog Press, Books, Dark fantasy/horror, electronic music, fiction, independent publisher, independent writer, indie writer, Literature, print on demand, publishing, Reading, short film, Surrealism, traditional publishing, writer, writing, tagged alternative, ambient music, cult writer, e-books, free writing, independent publishing, independent writing, original writing on the internet, print on demand, self-publishing, Sturgeon's Law, surreal movie, Surrealism, Twilight Zone on January 15, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
You’ll find all the relevant biographical info about me here.
I offer a sizable batch of my stories for free reading and downloading, you’ll find them here.
A number of my books are available for purchase and you can find ordering info here.
I know some of you (many of you? most of you?) view indie/self-published writers with a great deal of misgivings. I don’t blame you. The advent of blogging, print on demand and e-books has led to an explosion of self-published novels and volumes of poetry and the vast majority of them are unbelievably horrible. So bad, I wouldn’t wrap fish in them (real or virtual). In my view, when it comes to self-published offerings, Sturgeon’s Law is too kind—at least 98% of the self-published efforts I’ve tried to read are embarrassingly juvenile and inept. Derivative, tuneless, execrable drek.
I acknowledge that.
Now I want you to pop back to my roster of professional credits, scroll down until you get to the blurbs appearing below them. I think it’s pretty clear I’m no dabbler. For the past twenty-five (+) years, day in and day out, I have been putting words on paper. Writing is my obsession, an essential article of my faith, the activity that keeps me from absolutely losing my mind. Have a glance at one of my stories, a tale like “Daughter”. If that one doesn’t have you hooked within about ten lines, kid, you’re reading it upside down.
I became an independent author and publisher by choice. Producing and releasing my own work allows me to present it in the manner I intended; every choice is left to my discretion, from the cover art to the layout. It’s time-consuming, frequently maddening but, in the end, worth it for the control it gives me over all aspects of book production, promotion & distribution.
I hope you’ll take a chance on an author who has taken advantage of the new technologies to present an alternative to the rather dreadful crop of books the trads (traditional publishers) have been releasing since they went corporate and lost their souls. My stories and novels are thrilling, original and literate. They transcend easy genre classification; years ago, someone referred to my odd oeuvre as “Twilight Zone on acid stories” and I suppose there’s some truth to that. I draw inspiration from the surrealists and my work frequently displays more than a passing affection for the macabre.
If you’re feeling a bit flush this month, experiencing a craving for a much-needed mental goose, give some thought to picking up one of my books or downloading some of my stories. It’s simple, just a matter of a few clicks of your mouse. Remember how bored you were the last time you walked through a bookstore? Unable to find anything that spoke to your particular zeitgeist. Now’s your chance to veer off the beaten track and discover an author who makes no attempt to cater to the marketplace or kowtow to editors and agents.
But be warned: here there be tygers. My writing takes a toll on readers who have been lulled into lazy modes of thinking. My fiction is a wake up call, a warning klaxon, a condemnation. You can do a lot of damage with a steady hand and a sharp scalpel.
Time to check out some of my work. Go ahead. What are you waiting for? You’re not scared, are you?
Posted in abstract film, ambient music, audio recording, author blog, Books, electronic music, electronica, film, free film, Garageband, independent writer, independent writing, indie writing, iPod, Literature, movie, short film, space music, Surrealism, Uncategorized, writer, writing, writing life, tagged abandonment, abstract movie, ambient music, author photo, desolation, DV camera, Garageband, iPod, Labour Day, music for film, new film project, on location, road trip, Saskatchewan Roughriders, shooting film with iPod, short film on September 4, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Here are a few snaps of your humble author, hard at work shooting footage “on location” as it were. An overgrown lot in small town Saskatchewan, old farm buildings that we spotted alongside the highway. Whenever we identified something that might fit our overall concept of “abandonment and desolation”, we’d pull over and do our thing.
I handled a DV camera we bought off the internet a number of years ago. Very creaky, the technology practically obsolete. I can still find tapes for it at places like London Drugs in Saskatoon but I wonder how long that will be the case.
Sherron, meanwhile, was using her iPod, employing a number of settings and filters to grab some neat effects. We’ll load all the footage onto my computer and I’ll get to work trying to compose something out of what we’ve compiled.
The reason for this flurry of cinematic activity is that I’ve created a delightful seven and a half minute piece with Garageband and it’s so evocative and interesting to me that I thought it deserved some visual accompaniment.
If anything comes of this grand experiment, I will, of course, add it to the blog for your perusal and analysis.
Many thanks to Sherron for her collaboration and input. It’s a thrill to work with someone as creative and visually attuned as she is. I’m quite confident her footage will be the best we shoot—the combination of my ancient camera and ineptitude pretty much works against my ever becoming a proficient DP (director of photography).
I’d better get back to work.
Happy Labour Day to my fellow Canucks…and I dearly hope the Saskatchewan Roughriders get their asses kicked later today.
God, I hate that team and its moronic, watery-brained fans…
Posted in audio recording, computer, Dark fantasy, Dark fantasy/horror, download free podcast, download story, dramatized story, Dreams, e-reader, edge fiction, Fear, fiction, free download, free fiction, free fiction for iPhone, free fiction for iPod, free reading for iPhone, free reading for iPod, free short story, Garageband, iMac, iMovie, iPhone, iPod, listen to story, literary, Literature, Monologues, Music, new literary fiction, New release, new short fiction, new short story, podcast, Prose poems, Reading, self-publishing, short story, spoken word, story for iPod, story set to music, Surrealism, suspense, technology, writer, writing, tagged author reading, Dark fantasy, download story, fiction, fiction for iPod, free fiction, Garageband, indie publishing, listen to fiction, listen to story, podcast, spoken word, story for iPod, story set to music, suspense, writing on October 1, 2009 | 2 Comments »
Time for another selection from my growing library of audio experiments. Learning something new with each tune…and this time I’ve combined a fairly lengthy (well, okay, three-and-a-half minutes, but right now that’s lengthy for me) instrumental piece with an old prose poem from my violins in the void collection.
Sherron and my sons think I’m starting to get the hang of this technology.
But, friends, I’d like to know your opinion. Give it a listen and then speak your mind:
(Note: After getting word that the recording level might be giving some of you trouble, I went in and boosted the output, raising the volume some. Hope that helps. As previously advised, probably best to listen to my stuff through headphones. That way you get the full effect…)
Cliff Burns has been an independent author and publisher for more than 20 years. He's written a number of novels and short story collections, including SO DARK THE NIGHT, THE LAST HUNT and EXCEPTIONS & DECEPTIONS. In the past two(+) decades, over 100 of his tales have appeared in anthologies and publications around the world.