Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This is Not the Blog You Are Looking For...

This Blog as MOVED!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

SPOOKSHOW: A Ghost Zero Novel, now on Amazon!

And, I'm an author!

My first-ever novel, SPOOKSHOW is on the virtual shelves at Amazon, and I'm scared to death.

Well, and a little proud and excited, too.

I've been told that doing something creative and putting it out where people can see feels exactly like dropping your pants in a public place.
It's all true.

I've never written a novel before, and honestly, I don't consider myself a writer.  I'm a storyteller.  And I think I've put together a pretty fun story.  I honestly love the characters and the setting, and I hope that my readers will see that when they go along with Eddie, Charles and Micah in their adventure.

Oh, and since I'm also an artist, I did some nifty little illustrations for each of the chapters.  I thought long and hard about doing it....I hate to "write over" what a person could be seeing in their head, but I couldn't help myself.  I hope it's not too disturbing.  Here's a peek at one:

Creepy, isn't it?  Anyway, I had everything pretty much finished on Friday, and spent Saturday putting all of the pieces together and uploading it to Amazon.  I'll be curious to read what people think of the story.....it's the reason I tell these stories, anyway....and I'm also working on the next Ghost Zero novel, "The Midnight Society"!

Oh, and if you do enjoy the book, please rate it and leave feedback to let me know!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Life Wants to Keep You From Writing

BOOM, Baby!
So, I'm at 31,837 words with Ghost Zero: Spookshow and rolling right into the final conflict.  Since I tend to think of my stories as action movies, it's pretty epic.  In fact, here's a snippit of what GZ has to deal with:

"Then the slaughter started.
With a shriek the ghosts flew off the stage and into the writhing kids, the hanged woman’s rope darting down and snatching up a young boy, snapping his neck with a horrible popping sound.  The little girl jumped to the floor and then bounded twenty feet through the air to land on a pretty brunette who screamed.  As she tried to throw the slimy ghost off her, the girl grabbed her hair and pulled her face over, covering her mouth with a sickly kiss.  The brunette squeezed her eyes shut and tried to jerk away, but her eyes flew open and her cheeks ballooned as the ghost wretched a spray of water down her throat.  She fell to the ground, her thrashing growing weaker.  A boy nearby tried to grab the spook and pull her off, but his hands passed right through as if she were empty air.
The headless man stayed on the stage, dragging the weight on the chain behind him.  He raised his tree-trunk arm and swung the chain until it lifted the weight, a running engine block trailing smoke, into a lazy arc over his head and brought it crashing down on the people in the middle section like some giant hammer.  The sound in the auditorium rose into a single, roaring scream."

Holy Crap. Ghosts are bad news, eh?

So, anyway, here I am running down the clock on the story, getting to the final, climactic scene when I get contacted by Evil Hat who makes really cool RPG stuff and asked if I could do a several interior illustrations for them on a tight deadline. Now, Evil Hat happens to make stuff I really love, "Spirit of the Century", the "Atomic Robo" game and "The Dresden Files RPG", so when they asked, I jumped. I'm really looking forward to working with these guys, and with the amount of work they need and the time-frame they need it by, I'll be devoting bit of creative time I have to the project for the next month.

But...but...what about Ghost Zero?

Well, that's a darned good question. I want the story to move along, and I'm just a few thousand words from being finished with the first draft, so I went looking for free time I could grab to write. You know what I came up with?


I'm lucky enough to have a job that provides a lunch hour, and I happen to have a computer sitting right in front of me, so yesterday, I put on headphones, blasted some appropriate music and tried to write.

...And it worked!

It wasn't as much as I normally get to write in a day, but it was still progress, which is the important thing, and I still felt like I'd had a break from work.

So remember, life wants to keep you from writing, and will throw every opportunity in your way to stop you, but you don't have to let it. Look at the routines you normally have and ask yourself "does it HAVE to be that way?" If it doesn't maybe you could make a change that would fit some creative time in there. Even if it is just a little, it will be something.

...And you can rest when you're dead. There's cool stuff to be done!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled writing....

Do you know what wins in life?  It's not talent, it's consistency.

I wasn't born rich, but we have a budget, stick to it, and we do okay.

I'm not a great artist, but I keep doing art, and I get better every year.

Similarly, a book gets written when you sit down every day and write.  My creative time is every evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  I work all day, come home, take a walk, eat whatever cool stuff my wife has prepared, do the dishes and sit down to creative work.  I do this every day, am more flexible with my time on Saturday, and I don't do anything but rest on Sunday.

It's a habit.  I don't ask myself if I feel like it, it's just that thing I do when 7:00 rolls around, and it's how progress happens.  As of now, I'm at 23,700 words on the novel and it's going great.


I'm a little crazy about it.  My wife says when I'm on, I'm on, and when I'm off, I'm off.  There's no in-between.  I get nuts if dinner runs late and I'm still doing dishes as the minutes past 7:00 roll by.  I start spinning stories about how the writing, or my art aren't really important to me, how I'm just going to blow them off and wind up as some kind of half-person in life.  "He was so talented," someone will sniff, looking down at my freshly covered grave.  "If only he had finished something."  Yeah.

(This is exactly how I picture it.)
Thus lies my agony.  I get knotted up over not having that sacred time to devote to my creative pursuits, when usually, it winds up being okay anyway.  Last night, for instance, we were talking about how there really isn't any time in the evening to 'just enjoy ourselves'.  I would say "I'll enjoy myself when I'm done with the book," but my wife knows better.  When the book is done, it will just be some other piece of creative obsession.  Maybe, book 2.
Maybe that's just how I roll.  Maybe I'm just hard-wired to be like a switch...on or off...or maybe I just worry too much.  I'm betting the 'worry too much' part is probably right.  For instance, I was a few minutes late starting creative work last night, but I stopped writing a full half hour early because I wanted to take time to think out what I wanted to happen next.  It all worked out.

So, what the moral of the story, and what I'm trying to learn, is that it's the showing up every evening part that actually leads to success, not making sure that every minute of that time is maximized.  It's tough for me to accept this, but along with writing a book, I'd like to enjoy life a little as well.

I hope you do, too.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Importance of Place

What lots of Kentucky is like.  I love it.

I remember going trick-or-treating once as a kid.
Now, we grew up out in the country, so there wasn't any of this 'roaming the neighborhood' kind of thing happening.  Instead, we'd put on costumes, load up into the car and drive to the houses of friends and family, where we would get fist-fulls of candy and mom would catch up on the latest small talk.
So, one year, I was dressed up in (what I imagined to be) a pretty cool ghost costume.  I think I had a Casper mask on, but my mom had pressed an old sheet into service as a shroud, and the way it draped and folded looked pretty awesome.
We had just visited my Grandma and Grampa's house, and while Mom was catching up, I went over to my uncle's house next door and stood on his deck.
The house was perched on the ridge of Mockingbird hill, and you could see the valley stretching out below you for miles.  A large creek curled its way through the tree-lined fields and in the growing twilight a thick mist had begun to curl along the creek bed, twining through the trees and creeping toward the small town below.
Halloween night.
I was in heaven. :)

I wanted that kind of feeling in the novel I'm working on, "Ghost Zero: Spookshow".  There's a beautiful loneliness to the land that I think is the perfect setting for a ghost story.  Yes, there are people nearby, but always just far enough to make you feel alone, and maybe a little bit vulnerable.  Here's a description from the story:
"We walked through the fields, past overgrown ponds that muttered with frogs, skirting alongside gap-toothed and silent barns.  Any cattle fled when we came near, thundering in the dark.  I was completely without my bearings, trying to guess at how far we had come or even if we were going in the same direction.  I just followed Pallentine in silence.
Twice, I wondered about stopping and getting help, maybe trying to find Todd and I imagined telling him the story.  Of course, Todd lived miles in the opposite direction to where we were traveling, and even if I did go to him and he believed me, what was to keep another ghost from popping up and killing him?  I ached for his company, for someone…living…to talk to, but I wasn’t sure how dangerous I was.  I had to find out more about things before making decisions.  I didn’t want more blood on my hands.
After what seemed like forever, I saw the angular shape of a rooftop rising from the tree line ahead of us.  I could see fairly well, almost like there was a full moon, though the sky held nothing but stars.
We passed by a shed containing a small, red International Harvester tractor and suddenly realized where we were.
“The old Horton House?”  I whispered, and it seemed like a shout after so much silence.  “We’re going in there?”
The Horton House, as it was known locally was the largest place in the small town of Secret’s Crossing.  Sitting on the outskirts of town, it resembled something like a southern plantation house with large, square columns supporting 2-story high porches.  It was squat and wide, with ornate carvings that were once elegant, but now the white paint was peeling and the yard was high with weeds.  The old Widow Horton was the last person to live in the place, shuffling alone behind shuttered windows and talking to no one.  They say she went crazy at the end, screaming at ghosts in the walls and stabbing through the thick, textured wallpaper with knives.
It’s been empty for years, kids daring themselves to go inside on Halloween…to see her ghost.
And here we were."
And here I am.
I'm 17,876 words into the novel so far and everything is rolling along well.  I've got a small, dedicated crew from Grave Digger's Local #66 (I love you guys) on board to point out when things are a little off or don't make sense, and so far, none of them have waved me off...telling me it was a hopeless task.  I honestly don't know if I could write the thing without them.
I'll turn 45 this weekend, which I'll be spending in a silent retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  See you all next week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

15,000 Words

So, I'm closing in on 20,000 words now in "Ghost Zero: Spookshow", and so far nothing awful has happened other than mispellings and bad punctuation.  Some of the few, early Grave Diggers (God love you) have given pretty positive feedback. One actually said "my first impression is that you've been published before".  Very cool.
But the coolest part is being the first person ever to actually "see" the story I'm writing. I'm a very visual person, so I see everything happening like a movie. It lets me describe things in very vivid detail. That this snippet where Eddie encounters his first ghost:

"I turned my head to look behind me, just in time to see the brick wall burst into flame.  I wasn’t even sure what could be flammable about a solid, brick wall, but the fire spread, yellow tongues of flame growing and then appearing in other places…connecting together to form the rough outline of a man.
“Ma!  Fire!!”
I took a step back and reached for a blanket from my bed to smother the flames, but before I could get close, something walked through the wall and fire and smoke.  It was a small, bald man whose skin looked like it had been blasted and melted by a blowtorch.  I had heard from G.I.’s who told stories of burned corpses they saw in the war, and this looked like one.  Flames crackled down his arms and I could hear the skin sizzle as black smoke carried the smell of burning fat into the room.  He looked like the fire was coming from inside him…the skin lit up like a lampshade, all of the veins showing through in red.  His closed eyes snapped open and focused on me, roasted, bloodshot things with sticky blue irises.  His face cracked open in an awful smile full of blackened teeth, and he came toward me."

Yeek. Poor Eddie.
Those of you who are familiar with my Ghost Zero comics may remember that I had a burning ghost in there, too.
What can I say? I can't let a good idea sit idle. Actually, I'm throwing in all kinds of cool things that have been mentioned in some stories, and some stuff that I've been dying to tell a story about, but haven't had the time.
Right now, for instance, I'm writing a part where GZ is rocketing along a back road when he get's ambushed by.....

...oh, wait, that would be cheating. Let's just say it's pretty fun. :)

Can I say what the BEST part of writing this story is? It's being able to tell a complete story about the kind of stuff that I imagined as I was growing up. I placed the story in a rural setting because when I was a kid, I'd look out the window of my parent's car, look down at a creepy, overgrown patch of land and think, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a shack down there with a murderous ghost? Or maybe a vampire is using it has a secret hide-away?"

What can I say? I'm weird.
I just hope that this story finds its way into the hands of other people who enjoy weird. :)

More soon,

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ghost Zero: Spookshow

Working Cover

I'm writing a book.

See, a funny thing happened several weeks ago.  I was in the local public library and saw a copy of "Fugitives", one of the "Escape from Furnace" young adult books by Alexander Gordon Smith.  I didn't know anything about them...I just saw the cover, thought the premise was interesting and took it home for a look.

Now, I'm fan of 1930's pulp fiction, and I know it when I see it.  This stuff read like that...fast action, heaps of trouble, and the main character has to do something about it.

What WAS new was that it was written from a teen's perspective.  I'm not a teen by any means, but I enjoyed the character and the story enough to keep the pages flying by.  Then, I had a realization.  Well, two of them, really.

  1. Ghost Zero IS a Young Adult novel.
  2. I was pretty sure I could write it.
One of the really frustrating things about turning out Ghost Zero in comic form is that it takes so...freaking...long to tell a story.  Honestly, it would take me a year to complete a 32-page comic book.  A whole year.
If I wrote a novel, I could knock out a rough draft in a couple of months, polish and revise the thing in a few more and have it ready for publishing in maybe 3-6 months.  A whole novel of 50,000 words of GZ, while keeping my day job.  Win.

So, I pulled out my Ghost Zero moleskine (Yeah, I have one of those) and started jotting down ideas, mapping characters, and shaping plots.  I came up with a novel that tells the Ghost Zero origin story.  I'm calling it Ghost Zero: Spookshow.  I started writing it last week and am roughly 7500 words in.  I've got a small group of "Beta-Readers" who I lovingly call "Grave Digger Local#66" who are looking over the bleedingly-raw words and giving me reality checks.
Grave Diggers.  Gotta love these guys.
So far, it's been a hell of a ride.

One of the things I realized quickly is how much more I had to know about....EVERYTHING...when I was writing the novel than when I wrote the comic.  It's actually been really cool to come up with back-stories for all of the characters...I mean, I've had plenty of thoughts about them, but writing a novel means you have to have them DOWN.

It's also an incredibly intense and exhaustive experience.  I've lost sleep because I've been so excited and involved in the story. 

It's like your imaginary friend comes over to stay for a month.  It's a little weird.

But, it's fun, too.  It's great to have such awesome things to think about, and to push such depth into a world I've been running around in since 2007.  My task now is to cross the 50,000-word finish line, and I'm pretty sure it won't be pretty.  That's okay...pretty will come later.

So, here we go.  I'll be putting out a general call soon for more Grave Diggers, so if you'd like to be in on reading the novel and giving feedback, keep an eye out.

More soon!