Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Wizard Of ATL

I should have recognized the signs; the multiple storm warnings, coupled with the free pair of bright red house slippers I received in my Avon gift basket. I am Dorothy and my little border collie, Suzy, will be, from this point forward, known as Toto. Yes folks, the Atlanta weather is once more refusing to behave and we are on the brink of being hit by, not one, but three storms in the coming hours. There are tornado warnings popping up left, right , and center, and the clouds are currently blacker than a silverbacks bollocks.

To get a real idea of the extent of this storm though, you only have to switch to any of the local TV channels here in the Metro Atlanta area. All of them have their entire meteorological staff in the studio, taking shifts mind you, and all the weathermen have their suit jackets off, ties loosened, and sleeves rolled up. It's almost as if they want us to believe that they hefted their sophisticated Doppler radar gear up several flights of stairs, and onto the roof of the station all on their own. They certainly do a magnificent job of making a simple weather system sound like the end of days.

Perhaps they are right though, and by mornings bright light, I may find myself safely tucked up in bed, albeit in the Wal-Mart parking lot, half a mile up the road. I've lived through enough of these storms to realize that most of the TV sensationalism is just that, and I will sleep just fine, that is until the tornado sirens go off, then I'll be tapping those red slippers together, yelling, "there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home.....there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home.....there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home.....there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home....."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Confessions Of A Dope Fiend

It has been several days since my last post, and in that time I have emerged from the rocky seas of anxiety and depression, stepping onto a calm, dry land named Lexapro. It is certainly a comfort to myself and my family that I am now back among the land of the fully functioning, but it came at a bit of a self imposed cost. In my haste to be rid of my mental scourge, I popped my first little white pill on Tuesday, my 2nd on Wednesday, unleashing a slew of sweats, stomach upsets, and general twitchy madness. I had forgotten that the pills were supposed to be cut in half and consumed as such for the first week, in essence a weaning on period. I was double dosing and going a little spastic, but in a very calm, out of body type manner.......normality has now been reached and I feel good.

The downside comes on a creative level. I have always written my best stuff when I am at my worst, but it seems I may have found a way around this little problem. Let me first explain how I set about writing fiction. I usually see or hear something, often in dreams, that plants a little seed in my head. From there I start having internal conversations with the main players in the story, their characteristics fleshed out during those interactions. From there, the details start to fill in, everything from plot to settings and all points in between. When it is done in my head, I start typing and it all comes out in a sort of stream of consciousness type blurb. That tends to diminish when I am medicated, making it difficult for me to build in my head. So, this week I made a flow chart, a goddam flow chart coming from the most unorganized man on the planet, setting up my next piece.....it worked, and the juices started flowing. I actually scribbled a piece of dialogue on the back of my Taco Mac beer list last night (my wife has grown accustomed to such scribblings and stores them all away for posterity).

The story is a messed up Little Red Riding Hood tale, and here is what I scribbled, spoken by the Woodsman...

"Certainly, my axe could cleave a limb from your body with just a single, well aimed swipe, but it is far too cumbersome a tool to flay the flesh from the dead. No, that is the work of teeth. Savage instruments honed to razor pure on the bones of the frail and infirm."

It is my plan to try and get the whole thing out tomorrow, stay tuned.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dark Red Book Cover

Despite the horrendous showing of my first 2 efforts on Smashwords.com, I am plowing ahead and writing another short to stick up there. To date, The Tweener has garnered 19 downloads (it's free, so that may account for the gaudy number...LOL). Behind These Eyes Of Sleep has achieved 1 sale and 5 sample downloads. Basically, what that means is that 4 people read the sample and deemed the rest of the work unworthy.....not a great turnover rate.

Anyways, my next little blurb will be a rather nasty, psychological take on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. I can't imagine that any little girl that was privy to a wolf attack on a loved one would turn out completely well adjusted in adulthood....I am promising blood and mental torment as selling points (even though it will be free) on this one. Here is the working cover, with some work to be done on the text.....I was fairly adept at Photoshop, but can't find my disk, so am stuck using Paint for now, and struggling with layers at the moment....here you go

Failure IS An Option

Art, in all its numerous forms, is the personification of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The sad fact is that even the most successful of artists will still find that more people than not don't care for their work. With that said, it's easy to understand why so many fail to achieve their goals and dreams, giving up before their careers really get going. It can be argued that perseverance is the key to success, honing your craft while ignoring the naysayers. There is proof that such a path actually works, and a great example of such can be found here http://ladaisi.blogspot.com/2011/04/meagan-of-illustrators-wife.html.

My "writing career" hasn't suffered many setbacks, if only for the fact that I have seldom submitted anything I write for possible publication. I am currently 1 for 2, having received a horribly disheartening rejection letter years ago, when, admittedly upon reflection, the piece I submitted deserved the shellacking it received. My second attempt came over a decade later and, much to my surprise, I had a short story accepted for publication in an obscure, now defunct, Canadian magazine. Shortly after that, I had another piece published in an anthology of pieces by undiscovered writers, but I refuse to count that as the book was put together by writers I knew from a writers group I was part of....rejection there wasn't really on the cards.

For me, the plan is to continue writing and not linger too long on failure or success. When I read back through the years I can plainly hear how my voice has changed for the better, developing a timbre and maturity sadly lacking in my early attempts. Perhaps by the time I hit my golden years, I will be ready to unleash my superior writing skills upon an eager audience. Until then, I'll just keep on keeping on.

Here is another great look at how a fellow writer finds the time to hit the keys, on top of managing their family time http://pavarti.com/2011/04/overwhelmed-8-ways-to-handle-chaos.html

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Dark Man

I'm coming at this post with more than a little trepidation. It's not easy to talk about your own problems or ailments, especially when it's something that is not entirely visible or obvious to everyone, except those closest to you. Before you all start thinking I have some nasty STD, I should probably explain that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Medicated with Lexapro, all is well, but when I decide I am fine and no longer in need of a prescribed pick-me-up, the dark man arrives.

The dark man is the unpleasant fellow that lives inside my head, and makes an appearance roughly 2-3 months after I come off the meds. He turns me into a short-tempered, agitated, nervous wreck that has a difficult time getting his feet out of bed and onto the floor in the morning. This past little stretch of 6-7 months is the longest I have been medicine free (other than the years before being diagnosed of course), and also marks the best I have felt in recent memory. In the past couple of weeks though I have felt the crash coming, and yesterday, it did......HARD!!

There are a few good people at work who know about all this, and they were able to help me get through the day without having a complete emotional crash. It's an odd feeling to be opening boxes of shoes or cosmetics (I work for Avon), and fighting back the urge to burst into tears and head for the hills. I am getting back on the Lexapro next week, and normal service will re returned then. As much as I despise that vanilla, neither up nor down feeling, I owe it to those who care about me to get back to that point.

I have gotten to know a lot of writers over the past decade or so, and am constantly surprised by how many suffer from the same bouts of depression as I do, as well as a host of social and mental disorders. It makes me wonder if that is somehow the key to creativity, if being a little off somehow fuels the creative process. I know that some of my best writing comes when down, and the lack of ideas comes when mellowed out on medicine. It's a delicate balance, but my family life is more important than any story or world I can create in my mind, no matter how compelling.

Thank you Penny, I love you!!

The Mafia Gets Whacked

I am normally the type of person who is quick to embrace new technology and web innovations, but, I must confess, I was one of the last one's on board when the social networking boom hit. I am not that social in real life, so the prospect of having all of my "friends" know what I am eating for breakfast, or how "epic" my trip to the mall was, seemed somehow distasteful.

What changed everything for me, was the ability to keep up with the obscure bands I follow, simply by liking them on Facebook. As cool as that was, there had to be a way to kill the time between each of their posts. The answer was games. Before I knew it I was a city building, Mafia henchman with a penchant for farming. I became somewhat hooked on these trivial little games that involved very little but time and the occasional begging for a plank of wood to build my mansion. Time though became the reason I grew tired, as the need to build a Mafia, plant strawberries etc, took me away from writing and eating regularly.

It would appear that I am not alone in my flight from these types of games as Zynga, the maker of FB's most popular pastimes, has experienced a dramatic drop in player numbers in the past year. There are a number of theories as to why this is happening, but it poses a problem for FB as it relies heavily on these types of apps for its income.

I understand my reasons for giving up on them all, but for a clearer look at the numbers, as well as a poll that invites users to vote on their annoyances, you should all read this great article at The Facebook And Zynga Blog by clicking http://fbzyngablog.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/the-players-have-spoken-the-numbers-dont-lie-plus-a-mafia-wars-poll/

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

News And Reviews

Those of you who are regular visitors to these pages may have noticed a subtle style shift in my last couple of posts. Let me explain. I love the whole blogging idea, but the hardest part is finding something to write about on a daily or semi-daily basis. It may be simple enough if you have a niche blog, but for someone like me, an ordinary lad that likes to waffle on about nothing in particular, it can become frustrating.

I may just have found my lifeline at a website called seededbuzz. The gist of the site is that bloggers set up a discussion based on one of their posts (planting a seed), and other bloggers write their take on the discussion (buzz) on their own site, referencing your blurb in their post, in other words, making your post go viral. It looks like a winner to me, and you guys can help by clicking the links to the other blogs within my posts...thanks.

That's the news part, now for the review. I have received the first feedback on my latest book, "Behind Theses Eyes Of Sleep", and it's a doozie. Here is what it says.....

"Be Prepared to be Scared!

That's what you might think after reading John Watson's 29 tales of horror, terror, and things that do not necessarily go bump in the night. Watson taps into a vein of fear and horror which might have you sleeping with the lights on for a while. If the Bogeyman were a writer, the stories in this collection just might very well be the kind of ones he would write.


Bravo Mr. Watson for giving me a good scare and a good read."


The best part, for me at least, is that it comes from a writer, Jeffrey Miller, whom I very much respect. I actually just finished his childhood memoir, "Invaders From Mars", and it was fantastic. Thank you Jeffrey fro the very kind words.

Reading And Writing

I have been told, on more than one occasion, that in order to write well, you must read a lot.I can see why people would feel that way, especially if you stick to the genre that you write in. The main problem, for me at least, with that whole idea is that it becomes easy to be influenced in a negative way by the writer's you enjoy. Seeing what works for them may very well lead you down the path of trying to hard to emulate that style, all the while losing your own distinct writing voice.

I have read thousands of books over the years, but don't feel it has made me any better as a writer. If that were the case, I would be a major success by now, or at the very least someone who is widely published. For me, writing often is the best way to sharpen my skills. I do that by blogging regularly, scribbling down small ideas with an eye to expanding later, and just basically trying to write a little every day.

Reading will always be a major part of my life, and now that I have my NOOK, it will also be easier to jump between books (something I have always done), but I will always try to not let those other, far more successful authors, change who I am as a writer.

This may not work for everyone, and some will claim that taking the time to read will help them be better in the long run. This point is very well made in a recent blog post by Amy Romine, who is trying to balance the time spent between writing and reading authors that inspire here. I encourage those of you who are looking for that same thing to read her article by clicking here http://www.amyromine.com/archives/2603

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Taste For Blood

I just read an interesting article over at Stefanie Soehnchen's blog about a German man who goes under the name, Anubis, and claims to be a real vampire. By all accounts, this fellow lives his life as a bloodsucker and drinks the crimson liquid at several blood clubs that are dotted around the country. Of course, there is no biting or actual sucking involved, but the "vampires" can choose their drinks from willing donors, and sup it up while it is still warm.

Listen, I am obsessed with the supernatural, as well as counter-culture types, but this just seems to me to be a bunch of emo, goth, Eurotrash types trying to be somehow cool and trendy. Let's face it, with the current book and movie trend slanting towards the glorification of these ancient, fanged creatures of the night, it does seem like a decent way to become a bit of a hit with the ladies.

These types of trends are cyclical though, always have been, and soon enough zombies, or some other horror icon will become de rigeur, meaning the nightcrawler types will have to lose the capes and filed down teeth, and start peeling off skin and popping in milky white contact lenses. Me, I'll stick to having horror images featuring all the old faves tattooed on my arms. Anyways, I much prefer a nice warm pint of Guinness over a hot copper bodyshot.

That's just my 2 cents, if you want another opinion, take a peek at Amy Romine's feelings about vampires.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My New Book....On Sale NOW!!

The book is now up at Smashwords.com for the low, low price of $1.99. If you want to pick one up, use the promo code AY38A to receive a 20% discount...

CLICK HERE TO BUY!!

Patience Grasshopper

Finally, after all these years, I finished something I set out to do. On time, no less.My book of short, flash fiction is prepped, formatted and now in the queue to be converted for distribution at Smashwords. It has been 3 hours now and I have moved 500+ places up the list, but am still 222 spot out of conversion. That is where the real terror comes in, as you pray to all that is holy that you have formatted correctly, meaning you don't get sent back to the end of the line, do not pass go, do not collect $200.....patience.

Until I can actually post the link to buy ($1.99 for 29 stories.....over 14,000 words dammit), I will have to settle for letting you all in on the titles that made it in.

1. Inked - A Tattooed Tale
2. Dark Confessions
3. Skin Dancer
4. The Sweet Spot
5. DEAD FM
6. An Alien Cure
7. Aftermath Of The Boogeyman
8. Groundhog Day Grind
9. The Dress
10. A Constant Echo
11. A Watery Grave
12. Wine And Dine
13. The Artist
14. A Fate Worse Than Death
15. A New Kind Of Feeling
16. Morsels
17. Through Innocent Eyes
18. Hallowed Ground
19. Bored To Death
20. Look Back In Anger
21. Crash And Burn
22. It's In The Blood
23. Fossil Fuels
24. Please Be Kind....Rewind
25. A Perfect Evening
26. Seeds For The Needy
27. Sometimes I Ask For Death
28. Long Pig
29. I.M.

There you have it. I will post the link for the book as soon as it is ready.....now sitting at #182.....patience.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Flash Fiction Release

During a rather quiet moment at work today, I got to thinking (usually a dangerous thing) about how I should proceed with the release of my book of shorts. As the re-writes and touch-ups have been slow to the point of excruciating, I have decided to take all my short, shorts and put them in a compilation with the same working title as I had planned for the other: "Behind These Eyes Of Sleep".

There is a fair amount of stray little oddities that I like, but that I don't see any way of expanding into something longer or more meaningful. With that in mind, In have decided to devote this coming Sunday to putting it all together and having it up on Smashwords ( http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/inkedwriter ) by late afternoon, early evening. Here is a peek at the cover, plus a sample of one of my flash bits.





Aftermath Of The Boogeyman


The jack o' lantern sits on the front step, the candle inside bringing life to his shit eating grin. It's apparent that he's oblivious to the horrors that have taken place inside the house he guards.

A group of children in colorful costumes sit on the porch, comforted by police officers. Their lives were spared but in the years to come many of them will wish they had died that night, so that they could be saved from the night terrors and daytime visions that have haunted them ever since. A group of them are in shocked silence, a couple more are sobbing, but the ones that can talk all tell the same story.
The story of a man dressed in a long black robe, face hidden by the cloth, who appeared, seemingly out of nowhere and started slicing up the parents. They tell of how large he was, and strong, slight variations on his appearance, but they all described his killing tool in perfect detail. A long wooden handle, carved with strange symbols and only one recognizable word, "REAPER". A curved blade so sharp, they say, that it removed limbs and heads with a single swipe.
Inside the house, blood drips from the ceiling, body parts are scattered across the floor and a large piece of intestine is draped across one wall, the lights from the police cars casting their red, white and blue glow across it, a bunting made of gore. The floor is a sea of red, yet no tracks are visible, no sign that anyone had been here to create this scene.
The children are sent home, one by one, and the police work through the night. As the first rays of sunlight touches the house all seems calm as everyone is gone. The only sign of the previous nights activity is yellow police tape around the house. People driving by will probably believe it's a cheap Halloween decoration, unaware of the horror until they see the nightly news and recognize the house.
A small gust of wind snuffs the candle inside the lantern and his grin seems less menacing now. It's as if he's finally realized what has happened and that he is now alone...alone, except for the dark-robed figure peering in the neighbors window.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dead Paradise

Ever since I was a wee boy, I have always had a morbid fascination with ghost and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. A good chunk of my formative years were spent in front of a TV watching classic horror movies with my mum. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price were the actors I held most dear, but as much as I reveled in those old flicks, the idea that spooks really existed was something quite beyond my belief.

That all changed in my early 20's while living up in Calgary, Canada. I had taken up residence in the basement suite of my mum's friend, and very shortly after moving in, the weirdness began. It started off simply enough; books falling off the shelf untouched, my clock radio changing station in the middle of the night, disembodied voices and cold spots. My rational mind chalked it up to a combination of natural events and alcohol. All rationality went out the window when a full bodied apparition walked up my hallway and through a wall in plain sight of myself and 2 friends. The activity ramped up from that point on, with more than one visitor spying my roommate that paid no rent.....time to move.

The time in that house really peaked my interest in the paranormal, and I devoured books and info on the subject, and even dabbled in a little ghost hunting, all in the hopes of having another great spectral moment. It's been 20 years since that event, but it would appear that I am in now in another little Casper hotspot. The activity in our place now comes and goes in little waves. A couple of weeks of heavy activity followed by months of nothing. It started with a girl, judging by the sound of her voice as she whispered, "I want you to hurt her", in my ear (I kid you not). She likes our bedroom closet, and lets us know by opening the door during the night and slamming all the other doors on the 2nd floor. She has recently been joined, by recently I mean the past 2 weeks, by a large, very shadowy man that also sticks to our bedroom. Yesterday marked a high point in the "hauntings" as our 2 houseguests stomped around upstairs for a solid half hour. If you think I was going to go check on the sounds, then I am afraid you have me mistaken for someone with a big pair of balls.

I think that this weekend I will dig out all my old gear and set up my digital recorder in the room. Anything captured will be posted here, lest the skeptical among you think I have lost my marbles......stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Socially Awkward

It turns out that this whole blogging exercise had reached the level of complete distraction. Let me explain; it has been my intention to build a following of sorts, a little social club of folks who would read my stories and thoughts and, when the time came, snap up my fiction pieces in the hundred and thousands, making my dream of writing full-time a reality. The true reality is that I am actually further from that dream than I ever was.

I could easily throw the blame at social networks like Facebook and Twitter (especially that bastard, 1 lifetime click from that waste of space), but the fact is, I spend so much time trying to garner support and a following that I have stopped doing what it was I loved in the first place, writing short, creative fiction. It is easy to become obsessed by your site stats and completely lose sight of  your goals. It is far more difficult to think up stuff, usually trivial daily nonsense, to post in this blog than it is to sit down, let the mind loose and the fingers fly, and create something that is of actual interest.

Even worse, my consumption with creating a groundswell of eager readers means that I actually have to be social, something that does not come naturally to me. I am far more comfortable hidden behind my laptop, tapping out words that are far more coherent than anything I could ever say out loud.

I am not going to stop blogging, I love the daily writing, even if it's not what I set out to scribble. I am going to try and focus less on the site promotion. I do see a steady stream of returning visitors in my stats, some from as far afield as France, and I have found a nice little tool in Networked Blogs which has quickly upped my number of QUALITY followers, whilst also allowing me to find similar blogs that are of interest to me. For now though, it's back to some real writing, and hopefully a new piece of fiction today.

The Week In Review 4/5/11

Including : birthdays, storms, movies, cheesy rock bands

The week started off nicely with my daughter turning 13. It's something of a shock for us both as I can still remember the days when she would mouth off at me in baby talk. She is a girl of fairly simple needs and was happy with the Tangled DVD, an IHOP visit, and a book from Barnes and Noble. She is smart enough to realize the limitations of her father's wallet.

Wednesday saw a downturn as I was forced to stay at work until 8pm, with a 5.30am next day start adding to the agony. With my mood blacker than the clouds overhead, i stomped home only to find that our TV had been destroyed in the previous nights lightning show. Everything else attached to the surge protector was A-Ok, but not the TV.

The kids are in for a bit of a shock on their next visit here as the TV in their room has been moved downstairs so that I can keep up with Dancing With The Stars (did I just say that out loud?). It's not a great situation though, as the color doesn't seem to want to jive with my DVR, meaning that everything is tinged blue, making the shows look like they were produced in the jolly, happy world of smurf land.

With the kids gone for spring break, Penny and I were left to our own devices, which usually means bar-hopping. Friday night we went to see a Journey tribute band called Departure. They were surprisingly very good, perhaps it was the Sam Adamd Noble Pils on special that raised my spirits to the point where I could appreciate a bunch of fortysomethings prancing around in 80's garb.......wait, that kinda describes me too. Saturday was a movie and another few beers, something I spoke about in an earlier post.

Sunday was great once Pen got home from work. She does a blog where she accepts my food challenges (she is a chef) and tries to make a meal out of something I hate. This week she made a beer battered fish and chips that almost made me openly weep, it was that good. I'm not a fan of seafood, but i choked down enough of that fish that by the end of the night I was clapping my hands and balancing a beach ball on my nose.

Another very good week, with a couple of minor hiccups, which leaves me hoping for more of the same as the new one begins.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fire Face

Another really good Saturday for my wife Penny and I. We started out with a matinee showing of, Insidious. We had seen the trailer for this a few weeks back and I was somewhat giddy with anticipation. It features a writer/director combo that really fills me with hope. Whannell and Wan have hit home runs, at least for me, with the original Saw and Dead Silence. They are now batting 1000, read my review at viewpoints. The movie contains some moments that make you feel very small as a horror writer, a feeling further amplified by my meager 1 short story sale over at Smashwords.

From there we decided to pop a couple of beers at a little bar close to Lake Lanier, but on the way got sidetracked when we spotted a bar that we had never seen before. Nice spot, good food. Another beer stop and then home.

The only downside is that I contributed to Penny being unable to complete her food challenge this week. This will most likely result in my having to write a formal apology on her blog. This is a task that I will not only enjoy, but one that I welcome if it means that I got to spend some quality time with the woman I love.....with that said though, she is not off the hook for her challenge, next Friday is beer batter day.