Editing, mostly, with a little bit of music and sports talk radio to help ease the pain. Aw, it hasn’t been so bad. I’ll admit to experiencing a lot of trepidation when I decided to give my novel So Dark the Night another run-through before I published it as a print-on-demand book next year. I posted it on this blog two years ago and since then have received numerous requests from readers that I release a “dead tree” edition of my supernatural thriller (and I do try to please my readers). Probably a smart idea: between this site and Scribd, So Dark has been downloaded at least a couple thousand times…a situation that pleases me beyond measure.
But I was worried that the interval of two years would rub some of the lustre off the book, reveal flaws, expose slipshod writing. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case. The changes I’m making are cosmetic and are mainly due to how hard I was bearing down as I completed my final edits. I had been at work on So Dark the Night for three years and I wanted to make sure it was exactly right. I think it seems too tight in places and I am trying to loosen it up a tad, enhance Nightstalk’s narrative voice.
I’ve given myself a some firm deadlines to have this manuscript polished up and the book released by a certain date (more on that later). Delighted that the book is holding together very well (thus far) and that my faith in it, my love of the two central characters, is more than justified.
I’m also pleased that both my cover artists, Ado Ceric and Adrian Donoghue, have agreed to allow me to use their art when I release So Dark the Night and Of the Night in 2010 (likely through Lulu.com). The books have each been assigned ISBNs and we’ll soon finalize cover design and jacket copy. Feels good to be an indie publisher again–it’s been more than ten years since we released The Reality Machine and that’s too long. Gotta make up for lost time.
Stay tuned. 2010 is gonna be a busy year. Gotta celebrate my 25th year as a professional writer in style.
Break out the bubbly, string up a pinata…hell, folks, let’s have ourselves a party!
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…
The artist is an Australian chap, Adrian Donoghue, and here’s a link to his RedBubble page. He’s young, he’s talented and I’m fortunate that he saw fit to allow us to use “Gotham City” for my book. This kid’s going places. And I can’t believe how perfectly the piece matches the mood of the novel.
Check out the picture, then click on my Novels page to download and read Of the Night. It’s FREE. You heard right. A fast, scary as hell, full-length book, yours for the asking.
To quote from my jacket copy:
Of the Night is a thriller set in the same universe as So Dark the Night, but taking place two years later, with a different cast of characters.
A series of events lead to a breach in the continuum, allowing fearsome creatures to break through and terrorize the citizens of Ilium. Police detective Gus Novak soon realizes that the mutilated bodies popping up all over the city are not the handiwork of your garden variety psychopath and he enlists the aid of fellow denizens of the night in order to thwart a cruel and inhuman foe.
Intrigued? Well, for God’s sake, what are you waiting for: go have a look. The price is right, what do you have to lose?
No argument. The hours I was putting in, working for weeks on end without a break, shut away in my office, tapping and scribbling like a maniac, was incredibly stupid and detrimental to my health. I was definitely feeling the strain by the time I wrapped up rewrites on Of the Night. Lots of shoulder and back pain but also a sense of being artistically and spiritually drained. The tank right on “E”.
The only problem is, what does an anal retentive obsessive compulsive workaholic do when he has time off?
Answer: he doesn’t take time off.
Oh, I know it’s ridiculous, completely irresponsible but I can’t stop myself. I promised Sherron, swore high and low that I would start thinking of my health first. I’m forty-five years old in October and my family has a long history of heart disease. Not a lot of 90-year olds on either side, if ya know what I mean. It’s time to start devoting more thought to maintaining a healthier lifestyle, a better mindset.
Stress is a killer and I’ve got it bad. Always trying so fucking hard to meet the high standards and expectations I place on myself, pushing myself to get better, improve as a craftsman and artist. I don’t want to write like everybody else, I want my own, unique take on reality, unfiltered and with the bark on. No compromises, no pandering…no exceptions.
My promise to Sherron was honestly made but I think it will be hard to observe “in the breech”, as it were. Habit draws me to my office first thing every morning. It’s directly across from our bedroom and as soon as I’m awake and mobile, I wander in, check out the state of my desk, shuffle papers about…or just stand in the middle of the room, revving up for the day.
I’ve tried to take it easy but over the last couple of weeks I’ve reorganized my office, caught up on paperwork, starting planning my next major project and spent long hours on-line, promoting this blog and flogging my novels So Dark the Night and Of the Night to whoever might be interested. I’ve sent notices to horror sites, science fiction sites, occult sites, paranormal romance sites—if I’ve missed anybody, I dunno who it might be.
And I’ve also somehow managed to find the time to write a twenty minute radio play, “The First Room”. Very intense and personal. Kelley Jo Burke, producer at CBC Radio, dubbed it “Portrait of the Artist as an Abused Young Man” and I think she’s bang on.
What’s wrong with me, why can’t I take a week, a solid week and do nothing more than lounge about in my bathrobe, watching old Bunuel movies and reading fat science fiction tomes?
Well…like Graham Green I am afflicted by boredom. Bedevilled is more like it. He claimed it sometimes reduced him to suicidal thoughts and I can empathize. My brain can’t stand being idle. Even when I’m watching movies I keep a notepad close at hand so I can scribble down good lines or salient plot points, often writing up a short review of the film later on. Why? To what purpose? Because I must analyze, dissect, critically assess. Same with books. I’m on my third book journal, hundreds of reviews no one will ever read. I take great pains with my critiques, have developed a strict rating system…again, why?
Because unlike Sherlock Holmes I don’t have a 7% solution of cocaine to ease me through fallow periods. There’s only my work. It is my purpose, the reason I was put here on earth; it is an essential, irreducible part of my identity:
“Most of us develop and mature primarily through interaction with others. Our passage through life is defined by our roles relative to others; as child, adolescent, spouse, parent and grandparent. The artist or philosopher is able to mature primarily on his own. His passage through life is defined by the changing nature and increasing maturity of his work, rather than by his relations with others.”
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Thanks to one and all for reading and/or downloading my novels over the past few months. I’m encouraged by the number of people popping in, a steady growth in visits as word spreads throughout cyberspace.
This blog has been a godsend to yers truly and has finally granted me the direct connection to readers I’ve been seeking for ages. Back in 1990 I self-published my first book, Sex & Other Acts of the Imagination. It was the product of desperation, a Hail Mary pass that somehow resulted in a game-winning score. The print run sold out in less than five months and the book went on to garner good reviews and excellent word of mouth. Readers loved it and cling tenaciously to their copies—just try to find one available for sale anywhere. It is well-nigh impossible to lay your hands on a copy (believe me, I’ve looked on behalf of friends and a treasured relative who lost hers in a house fire).
The success of Sex convinced my that my future lay outside of corporate publishing and marketing and nothing I’ve experienced in the nearly two decades that have elapsed since has convinced me otherwise. Thanks to the internet, I now have the ability to get my work out there and anyone, regardless of their physical location, has access to it. I’ve got readers in the Philipines, India, Vietnam, Australia…
That still takes my breath away.
The indie musicians showed me the way. I watched people like Ani Defranco seize control of their careers and message and I was inspired…if somewhat slow off the take. Writers, as a rule, are a lot more conservative and stodgy than their colleagues in other disciplines. I don’t know how many aspiring scribblers have responded to postings I’ve made on LibraryThing forums and elsewhere, pooh-poohing the notion of publishing their work on-line because they need the reassurance of an actual physical book, it gives them some kind of affirmation or some fucking thing. This past week we were in Saskatoon shopping for back-to-school stuff and we stopped by a gaming place my kids like to frequent. Its shelves are overflowing with Forgotten Realms books and all kinds of novelizations based on Dungeons and Dragons and what have you. The most dreadful, awful, amateurish tripe you can imagine.
Those are real books: does the fact that they exist as “dead tree editions” give those writers, as execrable as they are, more credibility than me? Are hacks like Margaret Weis, T.H. Lain and D.J. Heinrich superior to me because TSR et all churn out their shite by the truckload to gamers with the reading skills and mental age of an elementary school child?
I dunno, what do you think…
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* We’re still working on the podcast of excerpts from So Dark the Night. Figuring out the technology has been a real learning experience for Sherron. I won’t go near the stuff, I’d fly into a rage and boot the computer desk across the room. We’ve tried loading it on iTunes a couple of times but apparently we need an RSS feed and…aaaaaugghh!
* This summer I have gone to a spa and endured a massage at the hands of someone other than my wife. I know. I’m having a hard time believing it myself. What next? Crystals? Scientology? Membership in Opus Dei?
* No news re: the movie version of my novel “Kept”. I’ve heard rumbles of a summer/fall, 2009 release but that’s only speculation. Stay tuned.
* Lots of good music playing lately…until the much-beloved Yamaha stereo in my office conked out. I’ve been bopping through the latter part of summer with Bob Mould’s “Body of Song” album, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s “Baby 81”, Interpol’s “Antics”, Elbow’s “Leaders of the Free World”…as well as Trent Reznor’s double ambient album and a wonderful instrumental disk titled “The Last Drive-In” by Jo Gabriel. Fantastic to write to—thanks for sending it, Jo, and get well soon!
Let us return now to Ilium, a Great Lake city that has seen better days. While its fortunes may be on the wane, for some reason Ilium has become ground zero for supernatural manifestations and occurrences, a haven for things that only come out at night.
It has been two years since the events portrayed in So Dark the Night (So Dark-excerpt). Detective Gus Novak is investigating a series of attacks that defy easy explanation. Mangled bodies, strange sightings in the sky, disappearances. Something has gotten loose in Ilium and is hunting its citizens…
If I can express this in cinematic terms (you know I love movies), I see So Dark the Night as the big budget, “A” picture, and Of the Night as a really neat, tight “B” picture, the kind that show up at three or four in the morning and you end up greeting the dawn with. One that eventually develops a cult following, a community of aficionados who know it down to the smallest detail.
Thus the dedication to Val Lewton, master of the B’s.
Ready for some terrific end-of-summer reading? A page-turner that sucks you in from the first line? An entertainment in the Grahame Greene sense: fast and smart.
Here you go: Of the Night OftheNight(excerpt)
Of the Night is less than half the length of So Dark the Night and a good intro into the night time world my characters inhabit. Of the Night is a stand alone offering–while it alludes to events in the first book, there aren’t any HUGE spoilers (still, I’d prefer you read So Dark first).
For the record: I never, at any point, envisioned an “Ilium cycle” of novels. Yet that’s what I see developing …and I’m at a loss to explain how or why this happened. Not premeditated, I assure you.
But further installments on that front will have to wait awhile. This has been, in many ways, an “annus mirabilis” (wonderful year) for me: I’ve managed to produce two good books since my 44th birthday and, again, I never thought that would happen. However, this paroxysm of work has led to some burnout; I need to take time off to read and recharge. Gonna lay off the full-length efforts for awhile (I have two manuscripts in various stages of completion), work on a couple of novellas, maybe a short story or three instead.
I also want to add more archival material to this site so that eventually I’ll have all of my published work available for download. Revisiting some of that old stuff will be fun–it deserves to be back in print. Look for that in the coming weeks.
And we’ll be loading the podcast of the first section of So Dark the Night when time and circumstances allow. Yes, I know I’ve been promising it for awhile but, hey, we’re busy people. Sherron has added some theme and incidental music and the final result is a really neat production. Gal’s a genius.
But, in the meantime…enjoy Of the Night. I think you’ll like Gus and Darla, the professor, Tanya…lots of wacky characters, snappy dialogue…and scares galore too, of course.
I look forward to hearing from you once you’ve had a chance to read it. Let me know what you think and tell me (at the very least) Of the Night didn’t bore you or make you feel like you’d wasted an afternoon.
For now I’ll wish you “good reading”.
Reasonably confident that Of the Night provides that…and much, much more.
In the past two weeks, Of the Night has undergone some impressive tweaking. I’ve been on a roll, seeing the novel from new perspectives and making subtle but important adjustments. It’s uncanny…all at once I spot connections that weren’t there previously, I swear. Suddenly they’re glaringly obvious. Uncanny? Hell, sometimes it’s downright creepy.
I’m getting very, very close to the “Sherron Draft”.
This means the book is nearly done, right on the verge. In need of one final run through by someone who knows my work intimately. Sherron’s been my sole editor for as long as I’ve been a professional writer (and maybe even a bit before). She knows what my aspirations are, what I’m shooting for aesthetically. She’s a terrific reader, the kind who laughs out loud at funny bits or moans when she suspects something bad is about to happen. She has a sophisticated and well-rounded love of books and reads whenever she has a spare moment.
She’s a spell-checker and proof-reader and a demanding and opinionated fan of my work. When she doesn’t like something, she says so and she’s usually right. Well, okay, almost always…
I’m not an easy person to edit: I grumble over critical remarks and suggestions, sometimes walk away in a funk…but if the changes improve the story, they go in and that’s that. Creative writing types talk about “killing your babies”, throwing out your favorite lines if they don’t fit the story. When I edit, I’m absolutely ruthless, no flashy flourishes or stylistic showing off allowed. Everything in service to the story; a motto I live by.
Should have Of the Night posted here mid-August so keep that in mind.
I deliver my “Sherron Draft” late next week, close to our anniversary, as a matter of fact. Eighteen years I’ve been married to the finest person I’ve ever known. Ain’t that something? Ain’t I the luckiest guy alive?