Tagged: paranormal

Job Satisfaction

A good day of work yesterday:

I think I nailed down the final version re: the jacket copy for Of the Night.  That’s one of the great things about being an indie writer and publisher, I have complete control over every aspect of my book, from the title and cover art to the selection of layout, fonts, even the composition of promo copy.  Some authors may not want the responsibility, the expenditure of time and effort, but I sure as hell do.  I have final say over the content and how it’s presented to readers.  I love it.

I’d decided to add an Afterword to Of the Night but for some days had been stymied as to what I wanted to say.  Yesterday the dam broke and the Afterword came in a rush.  Spent most of the day editing and cleaning it up and last night, just before bed, read it to my wife and sons.  They had some suggestions for revisions, small corrections, but for the most part they loved it.  So I’ll be adding the short essay to the end of the manuscript in the next day or two.

The book itself is close to completion, really just little niggling things that need to be touched up and smoothed over.  98% of it is finished, in the can, and I pronounce myself delighted with the end result.  Of the Night is a stand-alone effort but it’s set in the Great Lake city of Ilium, just like So Dark the Night, so it’s a short and sturdy companion piece to that longer tome.  It is not a sequel; it features a new cast of characters and an entirely different storyline.  Perhaps not as ambitious or immediately endearing as its predecessor, but Of the Night possesses a special charm of its own and readers are going to fall in love with it.  Take my word for it.

And since I mentioned So Dark the Night, let me say that it’s doing quite well, sales-wise, though it seems to be selling better in the e-book and Kindle editions than as a physical book.  The times they are a-changing.  The new technologies (e-readers et all) leave me cold and, candidly, I’ll keep buying books until the last forest is felled and converted to pulp.  Sorry, but it’s the truth.  When you buy my book, the actual “dead tree edition”, you can hold it in your hands, ogle that gorgeous cover, feel the rasp of the pages with your fingertips.

Sorry, techno geeks, your gadgets just can’t compete with that sensation.

But I’ve said my piece, given you an update so I’ll leave it there.  Gadgets/technology (pro and con) is a discussion for another time, another place.

The important thing for you to know is that Of the Night is on schedule and it looks very much like I’ll meet my self-imposed deadline and will be holding a proof of the book in my arthritic hands by my 47th birthday (end of October).  A short time later, it will be ready for ordering and reading.

Thrilling times ahead.

Watch this space…

“So Dark the Night”–cover art!

Yes, my friends, this is the new look for the front and back cover, courtesy our pal Chris Kent.  Ado Ceric’s gorgeous cover art is still predominant, but Chris has given us a different font and overall design.  My only instruction to him was “make it look like a fun read because that’s what it is”.  And Chris came through for us—hoo, boy, did he ever!

You can click on the individual pictures to view them full-sized.

We’ll soon be loading these illos on to Lightning Source’s templates, along with the complete text of So Dark the Night and awaaayyyy it goes.  But this is our first crack at this here new-fangled print-on-demand process so there are bound to be complications and glitches.  Thank God I’ll have Sherron to do all the dirty work while I pace back and forth behind her, cursing a blue streak.

But even with the foul-ups—the folks at Lightning Source have been very patient with my questions thus far—we should still have a proof within two weeks and the book ready for publication by the end of April (as previously announced).  Cover price $17.95.  You will also be able to download half the book (.pdf)  here at Beautiful Desolation (or over at Scribd) and read that excerpt for free, download the complete e-book for $10…or (at some point) listen to an MP3 of me reading the book for nuthin’.  Your choice.

The book has been polished since the earlier version I posted, tightened and pared down.  I’ll be purging that previous draft in the coming days/weeks (it has served its purpose and can now be deleted).

Don’t have much else to add—let me know what you think of the cover and please spread the word near and far that So Dark the Night is on its way…and there’s some great spring/summer reading ahead.

“So Dark the Night” Podcast–Episode 1

Yes, it’s finally here.

Thanks to the technical acumen of my lovely wife, we now have the first 20 minutes or so of So Dark the Night available for your listening pleasure.  In all, we’ve recorded the initial 75 pages as a teaser and, depending on feedback from readers and listeners, we may do the whole novel.

The production, music & recording are all Sherron’s doing–the only thing required of me was to stand and deliver.  I miss my live readings/performances so I had a ball (once we figured out how to do it and I stopped having screaming, ranting, petulant fits) doing my thing.

We’re going to zip a link over to iTunes too so watch for further developments on that front.

But I do go on.

So click on the link below, sit back…and get ready for a fun ride.

(This item was out of date and has been removed–an MP3 version of So Dark the Night in its entirety will be available in the fall, 2010)

DOORWAYS…a horror magazine with a difference

Regular readers know that I think very little of the contemporary horror scene.  It has become the province of the worst sort of hack–I believe in one post I referred to them as “purveyors of shit”.

Zombies proliferate, not to mention necrophiliac sex, rape, the ugliest sort of revenge fantasies, misogyny…really, really vicious and mindless stuff (and that goes for film and fiction).

But recently I saw a publication at a newsstand that seemed to go against the grain and I wanted to give it a plug. Doorways, A Journal of Horror and the Paranormal is a classy offering, great layout, decent illos and authors who don’t dip their pen in offal and their brains in sheepshit before commencing work.

Here’s a link to their site–editor Brian Yount says a new issue is due out any day and I urge folks to get out there and support a magazine that presents the field of horror with some class and dignity, attracting authors with real style and talent. Clive Barker’s handsome mug adorns the copy I spotted and if Clive thought enough of these people to contribute, that’s good enough for me.

Doorways…this is one to watch for and support with your hard-earned shekels.

Good luck to Brian and the gang!

R & R Apparently Doesn’t Mean “Ranting & Raving”

I’ve been put on notice: it’s time to relax, ease off on the workload for awhile.

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.”

-Anthony Storr

* * * * * * *

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.

And of course the occasional person still uses search terms like “Cliff Burns is an asshole” to get here but that’s all right too. As the Ramones say: “Hey, ho, let’s go!

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…

* * * * * * *

And finally:

* 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!

* On a sad note, my son Liam lost his second (and last) hedgehog to an apparent stroke.  Nebbin was buried with full honours.  Weird little creature.

* 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!