Tagged: urban fantasy

Reading and Book Launch

“So Dark the Night” is here…and ready for ordering

All right, readers, it’s official.

So Dark the Night is now available and ready to be added to your bookshelves.  Maybe you’ll take Stefan Dziemianowicz’s advice and slot me in between Jorge Luis Borges and William S. Burroughs.  I think that would make a very nice fit, frankly.

There are a number of ordering options open to you.  You can purchase my novel through Amazon.com and a number of affiliates there or you can pick up the e-book OR you can buy the Kindle version.  However, if you’d like signed, personally inscribed copies, I’m afraid zipping your orders my way is the only way to manage it.  If that’s your choice, click on this link and it will take you to my bookstore where you’ll find So Dark the Night and several of my other titles (though most of them are available in very limited quantities).

You’ll find all the necessary info there, including shipping rates.

What can I tell you, folks?

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, exciting read, a thriller in every sense of the word, So Dark the Night is for you.

Imagine a combination of “The X Files”, H.P. Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler and you’ll get at least some idea of what I’m talking about.  It’s the perfect “summer reading” adventure, featuring the most likable and endearing tandem of sleuths since Holmes and Watson.  Plus the book will scare the living crap out of you.

What more could you ask for?

So…check out So Dark the Night, buy it, request it from your local bookstore (tell them it’s distributed by Ingram and, likely, Baker and Taylor) or your public library.  Spread the word, tell your friends, Facebook about it, text each other your favorite quotes…or just kick back and indulge yourself with a powerful, literate offering, “a spook show that delivers everything it promises”.

And, needless to say, drop me a line here or at blackdogpress@yahoo.com with your thoughts and impressions.

I guess you can tell:  I…am…pumped.  Who wouldn’t be?  This book cost me 3+ years of my life and now that I’ve got it in my hands, I can honestly tell you it was worth every moment I devoted to it.

But don’t take my word for it:  pick up a copy and see for yourself.   Or, if you like, here’s an excerpt you can browse, a sneak peak at the best supernatural thriller since Linda Blair puked pea soup all over Max von Sydow:  

So Dark-excerpt

“Bedevilled”–A scary new short story to start your summer!!!

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.

For those of you who are currently seeking some fun reading, I’ve decided to post my newest short story, a work of suspense called “Bedevilled”.

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!

Bedevilled

“Anchorite” (New short fiction!)

Anchorite

The first one is a kook.  Total whack job.

Rings the doorbell and right away starts babbling about ley lines and planetary convergences, everything explained by this crude chart he holds up for perusal.  And all the while keeping his eyes cast down because he’s afraid of being “blinded by immanence” or something like that.  It’s hard to make out what he’s saying because he’s weeping, practically vibrating from a combination of fear and excitement.  The guy won’t be talked down or dissuaded.  Eventually, he just wanders off, pausing every once in awhile to shout and point at the house.  Weird.

But the word must be out because another one shows up the next day, an old man who won’t approach the door.  Content to stand at the end of the walk, bracing himself on a cane when the arthritis in his hip gets too bad.  He’s there until dark.  And then he’s gone.

More arrive daily, most content to be bystanders, others bolder.  There are all kinds of places on the internet.  Conspiracy theorists and cultists and people who believe the apocalypse is due a week from Thursday.

A particularly awkward moment when a woman thrusts out an infant, screaming:  “Heal him!  Don’t let him die!”  Closing the door but she won’t stop screaming.  Rushing out to calm her, reason with her.  And the whole time it’s “my baby, my baby”, the neighbors looking on with frank disapproval.

It gets worse.  A steady stream of people arriving, knocking at all hours.  The congestion creating a parking and traffic nightmare.  It’s a quiet neighborhood and residents start to complain.

The police and authorities are, predictably, completely unhelpful.  Initially dubious, suspecting some kind of publicity stunt.  They check around, find the sites in question.  Someone alerts the media, which means more unwanted attention, phone calls, requests for interviews.  The situation only exacerbated when the Pope becomes involved, issuing a statement denouncing superstition and idolatry.

Uniformed officers are stationed around the clock, an attempt to keep the growing throng under control.  Weapons have been seized, along with extremist literature and bizarre religious tracts.  The situation quickly deteriorating.

Late one night, someone breaks through the cordon.  Presses his face to the door, whimpering:  “Libera me, Domine” and, as he is being dragged away, howling:  “Miserere mei, Deus!”

Living like a prisoner now, never able to venture outside or peer from a window.  And  day and night, 24/7, serenaded by a continual soundtrack of prayers and hymns.  Someone even sets up a loudspeaker and plays amplified recordings of rabbits being slaughtered and children crying—o, pity the suffering children.

Unplug the telephone, turn off the lights, sit in the dark.  They’ll weary of this eventually, go back to their homes.  Give them nothing to encourage their simple credulity.

Alone and besieged.  Resigned and dangerously bored.  Reorganizing the cupboards and bookshelves, performing a thousand small chores.  Playing endless games of solitaire and, naturally, winning every single time.

© Copyright, 2010  Cliff Burns (All Rights Reserved)


The Waiting Game

The latest communication from Lightning Source indicates the proof of my novel So Dark the Night will be printed tomorrow (Tuesday, April 20th) and, if there are no obvious glitches, sent off to me a short time afterward.

(Sound FX:  Fingers drumming anxiously on desk top.)

In the meantime, I’ve decided to post more of my strange, ambient music—it’s on my “Audio” page, just scroll down past the spoken word stuff and you’ll get there.  Really love these pieces, which I’m calling (collectively) Intervals.   There’s been a big progression since my first offering and one tune from this latest batch in particular stands out for me:  can you guess which it is?

Busy days around here:  Sam, Liam and a number of their friends (shout out to Sean, Dylan, Jess and the rest of the crew) are deeply involved in a short film project that keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I applaud their ambition.  Sherron has her own film on the go, an abstract bit of business for which I’ll be supplying music.  But the deadline for the local, library-sponsored film short film competition is looming, so I hope their post-production efforts go well or they’re gonna be scrambling.

Meanwhile, I’m fretting over the impending arrival of the proof, beating my brains out trying to find ways to better promote and distribute my independently produced books.  I welcome your input and advice on both these points.

Let me know what you think of Intervals too.  And keep watching these pages for more info on the release of So Dark the Night, a supernatural thriller with a heart of gold.  Your summer reading is on its way.  And I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Coming Soon…

Another long interval between posts and, again, all I can do is mutter, “sorry, busy” and then get on to the matter at hand.

First of all, the cover and text files of my novel So Dark the Night have been uploaded to Lightning Source and we have been told to expect a bound proof of the book in the next week or so.

The process of prepping the book, getting the files formatted properly, meeting Lightning Source’s very complicated and detailed specifications, took some doing.  Honestly, the folks at Lightning Source are great, helpful and quick to respond to questions.  Full marks to them for that.  But their process is so amazingly convoluted it would scare the living bejesus out of anyone with little or no tech savvy.  Fortunately, my wife Sherron is fearless and possesses endless reservoirs of patience.  She needed every last drop.  She worked for hours on consecutive nights, trying to make sense out of the printed guide supplied by Lightning Source and then, God help her, doing her best to master Adobe Pro 9, which we needed to complete the process.  She was a trooper, I tell you, plowing her way through while her husband (that’s me) had to take frequent “time outs” to maintain his composure and rein in his well-known impatience and incendiary temper.

And let me also single out our cover designer/graphic artist Chris Kent for praise, salute him for assistance and tolerance above and beyond the call of duty.  When Sherron finally had to throw up her hands, he graciously agreed to meet with her and help her get those &$#@ing files sorted out.  Chris, you da man!

So now it’s wait for the proof and see if there are any glitches that need correcting.  This is computers we’re talking about, after all, semi-sentient creatures showing the first stirrings of consciousness.  God knows what that proof will look like.  Lightning Source has a promotional offer on right now–for the next month they’re waiving their set-up fee of $75.  So I guess I should consider this, my initial shot, a freebie.  Nothing to lose, right?

But if all goes well, we’ll get the proof, it’ll look fantastic and production can begin immediately.  I’ll put in an order for 100 books and we’ll arrange a launch, peddle the books to Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton.  Send fliers to the indie bookstores still out there (damn few of them) and prevail on friends in far-flung places like Vancouver, Toronto and Los Angeles to flog the sample copies I send them.

What else can I do?  Newspapers have slashed their book review pages–and, even so, indie/self-published work constantly had a hard time getting any kind of acceptance from the mainstream media.  No one in Canada reviewed Righteous Blood, despite the review copies publisher Peter Crowther supplied at my insistence (sorry, Peter!).  Should I try my luck with their on-line counterparts?  BookNinja and Bookslut, places like that?  What think you, Readers?  Where do you go to get your reviews, information on interesting new releases?  Let me know…

I’ve checked into shipping and, hoo boy, have prices ever skyrocketed in the past few years.  Mailing out copies of So Dark the Night is going to be a pretty costly proposition.  Tentatively, here are the numbers we’re looking at:

So Dark the Night—$17.95 per copy (U.S. & Canada); £13 (U.K.); €14.75 Euros (Europe)

E-Book:  $9.95 (U.S. & Canada); £6.50 (U.K.); €7.50 Euros (Europe)

Shipping:

$12.00 (Canada)

$8.00 Surface (USA)  $9.50 Airmail (USA)

$16.50 (Air)  Overseas

I’ll be making half the book available as a free PDF and I’ll also be recording the entire book, which you’ll be able to hear (free) as an MP3 download or podcast.

And there you have it; you’re now completely up to date.

Besides getting the book ready, I’ve had to register Black Dog Press as a business ($110.00) and check on my PST and GST status (thankfully, neither applies to a micro press like mine).  To keep myself sane, I’ve been creating more music, which I hope to post in the next few weeks.  For those of you who liked my “Soundtrack For A Science Fiction Movie Never Made” (thanks for the kind words, by the way).  Anyone who hasn’t popped over to my Audio page for a whole buncha free stuff to listen to and download should check it out.

I’ll drop a line or two when the proof arrives, maybe even include a few pictures.  We’re on pins and needles around here.  Nervous as expectant parents.  Counting the hours and hoping for the very, very best…

“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.

Beautiful Desolation: The Writings of Cliff Burns

eye-cliffWelcome to a blog that celebrates the spirit, power and passion of independent writing.

My name is Cliff Burns and I chose the path of “indie” writer after enduring more than two decades of stupidity and folly at the hands of editors, publishers and agents.  I gritted my teeth and pounded my fists as my work was tampered with by inept, second rate minds, dolts offering all sorts of career advice that often amounted to selling out, prostituting my talent and imagination.  Despite these obstacles I still managed to accumulate a body of work that drew readers from around the world and praise from authors like Kim Newman and Timothy Findley.  My tales appeared in some pretty high profile anthologies, including The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, City Dreams and The 20 All-Time Best Science Fiction Stories.  Both novellas from my book Righteous Blood were optioned for adaptation into films–“Kept” is currently in pre-production at Twisted Pictures/LightTower, slated for release sometime in 2009.

Creative control is my obsession.  I have not the slightest interest in collaborating with editors and agents to make my work more commercial and palatable, watering down my vision, creating derivative, saccharine prose. I’ll say it again:  I’d rather be a bum, living on the street, than a whore in a mansion.

diy1Thanks to new technologies, writers can now bypass the gate-keepers of traditional publishing, the agents and editors who for too long have imposed their pathetic, brain-dead aesthetic on the reading public. This blog enables me to present my work without altering it any way to conform to some real or manufactured “niche” market; the internet allows me to disseminate my writing to a worldwide audience; podcasts help me promote it; print-on-demand will put actual published books in your hands. I can do this without any of the organs of corporate publishing or catering to the lackeys who serve that impersonal machine.

On this site you’ll find more than a quarter million (250,000) words of prose.  That includes two full-length novels, numerous short stories, several volumes of prose poems and two complete poetry collections.

My writing frequently features the macabre and surreal; I once referred to my oeuvre as “Twilight Zone on acid stories” and I don’t think I’ve come up with a better description since. My influences range from Richard Matheson, Paul Auster, Jonathan Carroll to the sublimely weird visions of Terry Gilliam, Rene Magritte and Roman Polanski.

this-is-the-one1I labor long and hard on my efforts–in the case of my novel So Dark the Night that meant three years of writing and revising.  Don’t confuse “indie” with “amateur”.  I could have continued on the course that gained me scores of anthology appearances and professional publications…but I made the determination that to maintain that path would have meant on-going frustration from having to deal with those aforementioned gate-keepers, who were, in my view, butchering my writing and destroying my artistic spirit.  I place enormous demands and expectations on my work and will not release anything that doesn’t have my complete confidence.  The novels and various efforts on this site are of the highest literary quality, as good as (or better than) anything you’ll buy in a bookstore–that is my personal pledge to you.  You might not like everything you read but I will never waste your time or insult your intelligence.

A quick overview of what you’ll find here on Beautiful Desolation:

The “Home” page features news and updates, as well as short essays and rants on subjects near and dear to my heart. That includes everything from the contemporary publishing scene, indie writing, the idiocy of National Novel Writing Month, etc. etc.

About” gives some background and biographical information on yours truly; you’ll also find reviews of my various publications and a partial bibliography stretching back more than two decades.

Bookstore” is where I offer some of my books and collections for sale–these are limited edition offerings and supplies are scarce. Most of my books sell out within months of being published and some have, to my delight, become collector’s items (with the inflated prices to prove it).

Non-Fiction“–lots of book reviews and essays on literature and the writing life.  You’ll also find pieces on film and music, two other great passions of mine.

Novels“–should be your first stop. You can read and/or download two complete novels at no cost. So Dark the Night and Of the Night are supernatural thrillers, employing aspects of noir, mystery and horror. Terrific reads:  I dare you to read the first ten pages of either and then try to quit. Good luck…

Rarities” is a recent page I’ve added. This is where you’ll find out-of-print and older editions of my work, prose poems and verse. Also some of my monologues and the writing I’ve done for the stage.  Material that hasn’t seen the light of day, in some cases, for more than fifteen years (if at all).

Stories“–the best of my tales, some of them previously published, many of them composed after I started this blog. I no longer submit my work for publication so if you’re looking for fiction by Cliff Burns, this is the only venue where you’ll find it.

Tired of the same old crap, looking for writing that (to quote one review) is “a breath of fresh air”?

Beautiful Desolation is a site for those who treasure finely crafted prose and uncompromising and original visions. It is compelling evidence that there are authors out there who eschew (and revile) the contemporary publishing scene and are capable of producing ground-breaking, genre-bending and (above all else) entertaining literary endeavors.

And it’s a beacon of hope for those who feel, as I do, that writers and readers are poorly served by monolithic, impersonal, arrogant publishing houses that expend enormous efforts and revenues on mediocre “talents”, whose main claim to fame is that they are capable of delivering the exact same novel over and over again.

I offer you an alternative.

Come in, have a look around.

You’re in for a very pleasant surprise…

hand21

“Of the Night” is HERE!

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.