Taking a break from writing, concocted and edited a new short film.
“Exoplanet”…a love letter to science fiction.
Dedicated to Ian Sales and other bringers of wonder:
Posted in ambient music, electronic music, electronica, free music, iMovie, independent writer, independent writing, indie writer, Literature, movie, Music, Science fiction, space age, space music, writer, writing, tagged "First Contact", abstract, alien planet, cinema, experimental, free download, free movie, many worlds, movie, Science fiction, short film, space, Youtube on January 31, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Taking a break from writing, concocted and edited a new short film.
“Exoplanet”…a love letter to science fiction.
Dedicated to Ian Sales and other bringers of wonder:
Posted in Black Dog Press, Books, cinema, Dark fantasy, Dark fantasy/horror, download story, e-book, editing, fiction, film, film reviews, free book, free download, free e-book, free fiction for e-reader, free music, free reading, Horror, horror fiction, independent publisher, independent writer, independent writing, indie writer, indie writing, Interpol, listen to short story, literary, Literature, movie, movie review, movies, Music, new literary fiction, New novel, New release, novel writing, personal, publishing, Reading, revising book, revision, So Dark the Night, spoken word, summer reading, Tennyson, William S. Burroughs, writer, writing, writing life, tagged "Of the Night", Alfred Lord Tennyson, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Books, Charles Simic, cinema, Dark fantasy, Denton Welch, editing, Elbow, fiction, free download, free fiction, free novel, indie publishing, indie writer, Interpol, literary, Literature, Michael Palin, new fiction, New novel, New release, publishing, Robert Bresson, Samuel Fuller, Short Stories, So Dark the Night, spoken word, summer weather, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, urban fantasy, writing, writing life, XBox 360 on August 23, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
I’ve been working, what else?
Plowing my way through Of the Night, polishing a bit here, snipping a word or two there, prepping the manuscript to send off to the printer by the first week of October. Which means I’ll have achieved my goal and published two books this year. I thought it was important to do something, well, special to mark my 25th anniversary as a pro writer and getting my two “Ilium” novels out to readers and fans in the same calendar year seemed like just the thing to do. It’s been crazy hectic, frustrating and maddening…but it looks like we’re going to manage it.
Of the Night is a far shorter novel than So Dark the Night—I like to call So Dark my “A” movie and Of the Night my “B” picture. One is a bigger, bolder project, the other smaller and more modest. But I love ‘em both and you will too. We’ll be using Adrian Donoghue’s cover art for Of the Night and Chris Kent (as far as I know) will be designing the look of the book once again. We’ll have it out in time for Christmas and the novel will likely retail in the $10-11 region. There will be further progress reports so keep checking in periodically for more details.
Wild summer here in Saskatchewan, the weather verging on freaky. Rain, rain, rain. We have an old house and a basement with a stone foundation so I’ve had a fan running constantly downstairs because of the damp seeping in from outside, the surrounding soil saturated. I have several hundred books down there, my boys have a TV and their XBox set up so they can have their own little space. Must work to keep the area habitable, no killer mould growing in the walls, etc. The lousy weather has made it abundantly clear the roof tiles and eaves need replacing, the trees trimming back (again); yikes, when I think about the pending expense, it makes me wanna cry.
Ah, well, we’ll get by. Somehow. We always do. Just when I think we’re going under, some respite arrives in the nick of time. But there are some periods, nerve-stretching intervals, when things look pretty bleak and occasionally I am brought face-to-face with the very real risks and terrors that accompany life as a full-time independent writer and publisher. I’m 46…is life ever going to get easier, will there be some kind of reward waiting at the end of the rainbow? Or just a tarnished piss pot?
“Theirs not to reason why…” and all that. Thanks, Alfie, but all those guys died, as I recall.
Hasn’t been much time to kick back and indulge in my other passions: films and reading. Watched a few cool flicks like Samuel Fuller’s “Shock Corridor” and “Pickup on South Street”, two Herzog efforts (“Grizzly Man” and “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”) and Robert Bresson’s “Pickpocket” but not too many more. And I haven’t yet gotten around to reviewing those few movies I have watched for my film blog. Sigh.
As for reading, I’ve just finished Michael Palin’s Diaries (1969-79) and I’ve completed almost all of Denton Welch’s books, marveling at what a magnificent writer he was (no wonder William Burroughs revered him). Presently absorbed by Charles Simic’s The Monster Loves His Labyrinth, which is composed of entries from his writer’s notebook(s). Wonderful, wonderful stuff. If you haven’t read any Simic, rush out and find some.
Lots of music playing while I work—some ambient stations I found on ITunes, as well as albums like The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Who Killed Sergeant Pepper”, the definitive Joy Division compilation, “Heart & Soul”; old favorites like Interpol and Elbow and Black Rebel Motorcycle are always on hand to get me revved up. Soundtracks (“The Thin Red Line” and “The Fountain”) to give me mood music to write to.
That’s enough for now. I have to get back to, y’know, editing. Of the Night awaits my full attention.
In the meantime, why not take a few minutes to browse through this site, check out some of the stories, essays, excerpts, spoken word and music I’ve posted here over the past 3+ years? All of it FREE to read and download. Honest. No strings attached.
C’mon, whaddaya say? You wanna hang out for awhile?
Great, make yourself at home.
If you need me, I’ll be upstairs, first door on the left…
Posted in Books, crime, Cult TV shows, download story, edge fiction, free download, free fiction, free fiction for e-reader, free reading, hard-boiled, independent publisher, independent writer, independent writing, indie writer, indie writing, internet publishing, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, literary, Literature, mystery, new literary fiction, new short fiction, new short story, parody, publishing, Reading, short story, stories for e-reader, suspense, suspense story, television shows, writer, writing, writing life, tagged "Dragnet", "Naked City", 1950's, Books, Brion Gysin, collage, contemporary art, cop shows, cut up story, Edgar Allan Poe, experimental, fiction, free download, free fiction, free short story, indie publishing, indie writer, literary, Literature, mystery, new fiction, new short story, new story, Ngaio Marsh, Operation Terror, parody, Short Stories, short story, television, television series, TV, visual art, William S. Burroughs, writing on July 15, 2010 | 2 Comments »
My, my, how time flies.
It seems like only yesterday we were having the book launch but I see that a significant amount of time has passed since then, the summer well in progress…and I’m overdue for an update.
You know how it is, when this blog goes silent, that means I’m working. So deeply immersed in a project, I’m thinking of nothing else. Including food, water and most of the other basic necessities of life.
I’ve been feeling in a rut, writing-wise, which sometimes inspires me to bend my brain in other directions. I know very little about visual art, theory or practice, but every so often I like to pick up a paintbrush, find an old slab of board and have at it. This time around, my medium of choice was collage. I keep files of visual images and dozens of issues of old magazines lying around just in case I get it into my head to try something like this. Collage is a cumulative process; I moved the images here and there, tried them against different backdrops…but the key for me came when I decided to incorporate small blocks of text, usually relating to economic theory (the most savage form of social Darwinism imaginable).
It struck me as I was going through the literally hundreds of images I’ve collected over the past X amount of years, that I am an astonishingly morbid person. I mean, Jesus, click on the image (above), you should get a larger sized version. Would you trust someone who saves pictures like this to babysit your kids or date your daughter?
This is some sick, sick shit.
But as I was piecing everything together, as it all started to fall into place, I realized that what I was creating was a depiction of humanity run amok, the awful, indescribable damage we, as a species, have inflicted with our ideologies, our stupidity and greed. Depressing, yes; sick-making? Undoubtedly. But is this vision inaccurate, flawed or misleading? Well, like any creative endeavor, it’s up to each individual to decide for themselves.
The end result of that little experiment pleased me to some extent but I didn’t feel like I was quite done with cutting things up. My eyes happened on a pile of books I’ve snagged from various thrift shops and library book sales over the years. I decided I wanted to create an homage to one of my literary heroes, William Burroughs. I’m sure you know all about the “cut-up method” that was developed by Burroughs and his mentor, Brion Gysin. Take any number of literary texts, carve them up, piece them together and marvel at the wonderful word collisions and strange juxtapositions that are created.
My project started out as a noble venture but, as with most activities that involve me creatively, my Muse took over and things quickly got out my control.
I used scissors to pare out sections of a 1960 thriller called Operation Terror! I then snipped out various portions of the other books I had lying around: an anthology of detective fiction that included Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, a forgotten novel by Ngaio Marsh, etc. etc. Found a heavy sheet of black cardboard, set up on our basement workbench and proceeded to play with the various passages I’d selected.
At one point I realized I was probably defeating the purpose of the whole intention of “cut ups”, that my method was too conscious and controlling but by then it was too late. I was caught up in creating an all new narrative, trying to come up with a satisfactory climax–
Once I’d arranged the text into a coherent storyline, I decided I wasn’t done: I would then write a story based on the outline I’d created using the borrowed snippets. A completely original work utilizing pre-existing text. And I’d frame it as a teleplay for a long-forgotten TV series…
I repeat: Good Lord.
But there’s no use trying to talk sense to my Muse: she simply won’t be reasoned with. Once she gets an idea into her head, I am powerless to resist her.
So at the conclusion of this article you’ll find a link to the PDF version of my weird, whacky “mashup”. It’s an homage to Mistah Burroughs in the form of a script from a 1950′s crime drama that never was. Go figger.
I make no apologies for this story and predict it might annoy a significant proportion of readers. But fans of Burroughs and Gysin might be more inclined to give grudging approval to the thought behind this bizarre creation. They would see it, quite rightly, as a labour of love and even if they found fault with its execution, they’d think kindly of me for at least making the attempt.
Click on the link directly below for a free download of my story:
Posted in Black Dog Press, Books, coming soon, crime, Dark fantasy, Dark fantasy/horror, download story, e-reader, edge fiction, fiction, free download, free fiction, free fiction for e-reader, free fiction for iPod, free reading, free reading for iPad, free reading for iPhone, free reading for iPod, free reading for Kindle, free short story, Horror, Horror novel, horror story, independent writer, independent writing, indie writer, indie writing, inspiration, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Kindle 2, Lightning Source, literary, Literature, mainstream fiction, New release, new short fiction, new short story, publishing, Reading, scary story, short story, stories for e-reader, story for iPod, summer reading, suspense, suspense story, thriller, writer, writing, writing life, tagged "The Tenant", Books, crime, Dark fantasy, delusion, fiction, free download, free fiction, Horror, indie publishing, indie writer, insanity, literary, Literature, murder on bus, new fiction, Roman Polanski, Short Stories, short story, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, writing on May 10, 2010 | 10 Comments »
A couple of things to cover this time around:
The proof copy of So Dark the Night arrived and we’ll get pictures up soon. It’s a beautiful book—the folks at Lightning Source have done a brilliant job and we couldn’t be happier with the finished volume. Unfortunately, there were a few minor glitches: for one thing, we forgot to add the cover price (yeesh! what dopes!) and there were a couple of formatting mistakes inside that needed tweaking. So we sent in a revised set of cover and text files and that should be it.
In the meantime, the proof sits on my desk, just as pretty as you please. At least five or six times a day I walk over, pick it up and ogle it, turning it over and over in my hands.
So…unless there are any unforeseen problems, we should be going into production in the next ten days and I’ll begin taking orders for So Dark the Night at that time. Or you can buy my book through Lightning Source (and eventually Amazon and wherever else I can get it)
Watch this space.
This one has two main sources of inspiration:
The first was Roman Polanski’s “The Tenant” (terrific creepy film and the perfect evocation of Roland Topor’s short novel) and the second…well. We’ve all seen the stories on the news, an obscene act of violence perpetrated by someone who is clearly delusional. Our initial, knee jerk response to gruesome incidents like the killing on the Greyhound bus is to wash our hands of the assailant, throw away the key, put him out of his misery, etc. etc. But, of course, as a writer my curiosity is piqued when I try to divine the thinking of such an individual: what in God’s name would cause them to act out in such an extreme and horrific manner?
And so I wrote “Bedevilled”.
I have to say, now that the novel’s done and at the printer, I find I have some extra time to do things like journaling and writing short stories and I’m enjoying myself immensely. “Bedevilled” challenged me and I think the end result is a solid short story. I’ve played around with the formatting on this one, tried to make it more readable and eye-friendly (in PDF form). Let me know what you think, dear Readers, especially you folks using devices like the iPad, Kindle, etc. Do you like the fatter margins, find the spacing agreeable?
Let’s kick off the summer reading season with a tale of psychological suspense, shall we?
Click on the link below and…enjoy!
Posted in Black Dog Press, blog novel, book launch, Books, Cliff Burns, crime novel, Dark fantasy, Dark fantasy/horror, detective, download story, e-novel, e-reader, edge fiction, editing, fiction, free download, free fiction, free fiction for e-reader, free fiction for iPhone, free reading, free reading for iPhone, free short story, Horror, horror fiction, independent publisher, independent writer, indie writer, iPhone, Kindle, Kindle 2, literary, Literature, mystery, mystery novel, New novel, New release, new short fiction, new short story, novel writing, POD publishing, Poetry, print of demand, print on demand, Prose poems, publishing, Reading, revising book, revision, self-publishing, short story, So Dark the Night, Sony e-Reader, stories for e-reader, suspense, writer, writing, writing life, tagged Ado Ceric, automatic writing, cover art, Dark fantasy, e-reader, editing, fiction, flash fiction, free download, free fiction, free novel, Horror novel, indie publishing, indie writer, Kindle, new fiction, New release, occult, Poetry, print on demand, So Dark the Night, supernatural thriller, writing on January 5, 2010 | 8 Comments »
So Dark the Night is done.
Editing, polishing and buffing now complete. After some proof-reading for typos and mis-spellings, it’s off to the printer in the form of a PDF and, hopefully, by early March we’ll have a physical book to offer you. Really pleased with the changes I’ve made; I’ve tightened the novel considerably, lopped about 5 pages from its length. Speeds up the pacing..the idea is to make the book impossible to put down. And I think I’ve come pretty close to achieving that goal.
Can’t wait to see Ado Ceric’s gorgeous cover art on a trade paperback. Hoping to keep the price around $17-18 max. And, of course, we’ll still be offering the newly revamped So Dark the Night as a free e-book for those of you who have evolved and now do most of your reading from some kind of screen. Judging by the number of downloads I’ve had over the past couple of weeks, I’d say a lot of folks received Kindles or other e-readers as Christmas gifts. After all, what else do you give a discerning bibliophile (if you’ve got over $200 to spare)?
There will be more posts re: the release of So Dark the Night (the book) so stay tuned.
* * * * * *
In the meantime, idle hands and all that: once I completed edits on the novel, I had some free time and indulged in some “automatic” writing. This is what I came up with, my first fiction and verse of 2010:
A witch’s heart won’t burn, so what do you do with it? It can’t be buried, its evil influence would still be felt, blighting crops, causing stillbirths. To cast it into a well would poison the water for miles around.
No, best to keep the vile thing locked away. In a lead-lined canister, sealed with wax, submerged in holy water.
And who better to steward the damned things than me? Serving as an invaluable repository for witch-hunters desperate to dispose of something infernal, indestructible. Making a pretty penny off it too, if I may say so. Not many willing to do the work, to be honest.
It’s the shrieking and carrying on that’s the worst. There are nights I have to stopper my ears. They never rest and they never stop yearning to be free. From a hundred shelves, a thousand faceless jars. Some of them claiming innocence, and they’re the most dangerous and insidious of all.
© Cliff Burns, 2010
They have departed to the pleasure domes
abandoned their husks to decay
Meatless, eternal, every wish fulfilled.
Etheric couplings, satisfaction guaranteed;
high adventure, simulated to the last pixel
experience without significance,
vouchsafed by an overcautious A.I.
You can never die and so
you can never live
and virtual love is no love
They can emulate everything except a soul
(but it’s only a matter of time)
© Cliff Burns, 2010
Posted in ambient music, audio recording, Black Dog Press, blog novel, Books, Cliff Burns, Creative Commons, Dark fantasy, Dark fantasy/horror, download free podcast, download story, e-reader, edge fiction, editors, electronic music, electronica, Essays and Non Fiction, free download, free fiction, free fiction for e-reader, free fiction for iPhone, free fiction for iPod, free novel, free reading, free reading for iPhone, free reading for iPod, free short story, Garageband, genre, hard-boiled, horror fiction, iMac, inspiration, iPhone, iPod, listen to short story, listen to story, literary, Literature, mainstream fiction, new literary fiction, new look, new short fiction, new short story, Opinions and Rants, personal, podcast, publishing, Reading, Science fiction, self-publishing, Short Stories, short story, So Dark the Night, spoken word, stories for e-reader, story for iPod, story set to music, technology, traditional publishing, Wordpress, writer, writing, writing life, tagged blog novel, corporate publishing, Dark fantasy, editors, fiction, free download, free fiction, free fiction for iPhone, free novel, Garageband, Horror, independent publishing, independent writer, indie publishing, indie writer, iPod, new fiction, podcast, publishing, Science fiction, Short Stories, short story, So Dark the Night, spoken word, traditional publishing, writing on November 1, 2009 | 2 Comments »
You’ll find it by looking to the right hand side, under the “Stories” widget. Just click on “Audio” and you’ll discover a large selection of my stories, poems, commentaries, even an excerpt from my novel So Dark the Night. All available for free listening and downloading onto whatever device (iPod or cell phone) you currently favour. Many of these pieces are accompanied by music, which provides dramatic highlights, a soundtrack that is either pleasing or provocative (or both).
The most recent offering is a six-minute chat about “indie” writing I recorded because I’ve received a host of questions, both here and in various forums where I hang out. People want to know what it means to be an independent writer…and I want to do what I can to dispel this notion that one goes the indie/self-publishing route because your work can’t cut it with traditional publishers. Hey, kids, I chose to go my own way because after 20+ years of dealing with inept, sociopathic, moronic editors, I’d had enough. New technologies like blogs, podcasts and print-on-demand put more control into authors’ hands, a situation I welcome with open arms.
For the record, here’s what I said–
–and after giving it a listen, I hope you’ll have a clearer understanding of what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog. And please check out the rest of my audio releases, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the production values and the power and intensity of the work.
Theatre of and for the mind…
Posted in "Darkness" poem, audio recording, Books, Cliff Burns, Dark fantasy, Dark fantasy/horror, depression, download free podcast, download story, dramatized story, edge fiction, electronic music, Fear, fiction, free download, free fiction, free fiction for e-reader, free fiction for iPhone, free fiction for iPod, free reading for iPhone, free reading for iPod, free short story, Garageband, Horror, iPhone, iPod, listen to short story, listen to story, literary, Literature, new literary fiction, new short fiction, new short story, personal, podcast, post apocalypse, post holocaust, post nuclear, Prose poems, Reading, self-publishing, Short Stories, short story, spoken word, stories for e-reader, story for iPod, story set to music, supernatural, suspense, suspense story, writer, writing, tagged free download, free fiction, Garageband, Hallowe'en, Horror, indie writer, Lord Byron, Music, scary story, Short Stories, short story, spoken word, words and music, writing on October 30, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
I’ve been in a somewhat grim state of mind of late, for a variety of reasons I won’t go into. So I was sitting down today, nursing a blue funk, pondering the imminent arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. I turned on Garageband and started playing around; came up with some wacky tracks of music and thought about adding a few words, flipped through my notebook for something appropriate…and for some reason recalled “Darkness”, a poem Lord Byron wrote wayyy back in the early 19th Century. Dug out an old Norton poetry anthology, found the poem in question…and my face split into a nasty grin. It was perfect. Went with the music I’d laid down so nicely it sent a chill through me.
Here it is, a little something for the ghoul that resides in each of us, the darkness beyond the edge of town, as Mr. Springsteen would put it.