Slogging the Mire: 3/11/16 Update

Slogging the Mire: 3/11/16 Update

While I’ve had a pretty consistent year for creating content, I am the first to admit that I absolutely suck at updates. This one’s a biggie.

I make no promises, but I’m going to do my best to hit these about once a month from now on. That’s going to be rough, and once you hear what’s going on, you’ll see why. I’m gonna break this down into two parts. First part…

Life
As is the norm, life is about to change. This is pretty common, but every once in a while you get a big shake up. Things like babies, marriages, moving, new jobs, etc… I’ve got a huge one rolling in on my pretty quick here; we’re moving to Nova Scotia in about three months. There’s a lot of factors at play, but as things stand, its looking like we’re going to spend half of April with family in Newfoundland, planning and prepping some things, and then, sometime early May, I’ll be meeting my father-in-law in Nova Scotia where we will commence building a house. I’ll do that for a month or so, then Jill and Gale will join me. We’ll effectively be living in Nova Scotia during another month of building and, when the house is good enough to live in, we’ll come back, get our stuff, and head out.

There is a crap ton of things to do between now and then. We’d always planned on leaving in June/July, but this plan has gone and chomped about six weeks of that time earlier for me. This means I have a lot less time in the States than I’d anticipated. From here, things start to happen at a pretty breakneck speed. If you wanna see me before I go, message me soon. My schedule is gonna fill up quick.

I’m super excited about the whole process. The plan after the move is for me to be back in town quarterly to help run the business and keep some of our Chicago roots. I will not be vanishing entirely and will, for the foreseeable future, be a tad bit international.

Writing
Obviously, the above news is going to throw a major wrench into my writing/production schedule. My three primary projects are going to take a hit. I’m currently working on finishing the Horsemen novel, a photo-narrative project, and a horror collection. I had planned on having all three done by the time I leave. Now, given the earlier departure, it’s not feasible to tackle them all. Fortunately, I’m a good number of chapters ahead of the art production for the Horsemen. I can put that aside until that starts to catch up to me. I’ve finished the hard part on the photo-narrative project and should be able to complete my part easily before leaving. After that, there’s a period of time where, again, art is created before I’m required to write more. So, this brings me to my collection. I’ve decided to convert the horror play I wrote several years ago, Nest of Scars, into a novella and make it the collection centerpiece. So, there is that, and the completion of two short stories; ‘RipLips’ and ‘What Worship Under Heel’. Then it’s good to go. Doing this in the next 6-8 weeks is going to be a stretch, but I think it’s possible. I’m most certainly going to take as big a bite out of it as possible.

Also, while all of this is going on, I’m very reluctant to stop writing my weekly Image Flashes. They’re good practice and I enjoy the variety. So, expect to see those continue as much as I can manage, although I’ve decided to change their release day to Tuesday, since nobody reads anything on the internet on Friday.

So, there you have it. Leaving Chicago, headed to Canada, building a house, and writing like a madman. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted! Probably, like I said, I’m bad at writing updates.

Slogging the Mire: 5/28/15 Update

Slogging the Mire: 5/28/15 Update

I’ve got a great big announcement!

I will be starting a new promotional schedule starting in August. I’m going to keep a lot of it as a surprise, but I’d like to reveal one part of it because I need everyone’s help.

I’m writing a serial novel and I need your help
in deciding which one to do!

Firstly, let me explain the format of a serial novel. Essentially it’s like a normal novel except that gets released a little at a time. It’s a suspense thing! A little bit of the story is put out twice a week (Monday and Friday), adding up to an entire chapter every month. The whole book is twelve chapters and will take one year to complete.

I have complete outlines for three stories and have already written three first chapters, one for each of the novels.

I am ready to roll!

The only problem is I like all the ideas and could really go with any one of them. This is where you come in! I’ll give you a synopsis (like reading the back of a book) and then tell me which one you like the most. Whatever story gets the most votes is what I’ll write! Just comment in the blog here or message me or call or whatever. I’ll spend all of July sorting out which one everyone is most interested in and then launch in August!

Here are the candidates in no particular order.


Title: The Cache

Genre: Thriller
Synopsis: Mia and Aaron have a wonderful life and a beautiful daughter. On a romantic weekend getaway they decide to go geo-chacheing (a GPS scavenger hunt) out in nature. Their first discovery contains a message that their daughter has been kidnapped and coordinates to the next cache. They begin a deadly race against time to get their daughter back, all the while trying to figure out why they’ve been targeted and who is behind it.

Title: Navigator Gods

Genre: Science Fiction
Synopsis: The Dell Singh colony star-ship is in the middle of a two century trip to a faraway planet. The inhabitants live in a virtual reality during their cryogenic sleep and the ship is controlled remotely by people far away on an Earth that has all but forgotten about them. But when crew on-board start mysteriously being murdered it’s up to one of the Navigators back home to solve a mystery half a galaxy away.

Title: The Shudder Beyond Breath

Genre: Horror
Synopsis: When somebody does a job that’s been in their family for a long time, people say “it’s in their blood”.  When an ex-cop, from a long line of law enforcers, comes face to face with a serial killer with a generational heritage of murder, the ingrained histories in their blood opens up a supernatural inheritance for both of them, with terrifying results.


 

So, which one do you want to read?

Slogging the Mire: 4/29 Update

Slogging the Mire: 4/29 Update

Whew! That was a rough couple of weeks!

You probably know why; I got hit by the C2E2 train. My Thursday writing day last week was derailed by Jiba and I having to set up for the con. We arrived early on Thursday, hoping to be able to setup before I started work. I was fully expecting it would be a quick job and I’d get to have my full writing day. Yeah, no such luck. Turns out our location was fantastic! We were right on a corner! Right near the entrance! Check it out.

c2e2 map

Near perfect placement. We were not really prepared for that. I ended up spending the day buying curtains and going over to the convention center with Gale.  They tried giving me crap about letting her in, but I talked my way past security with assurances that we were only going in to quickly drop stuff off. Once inside, we used pipes and duct tape to build a structure to hang the curtains and separate us from the next door booth a bit. Four year olds are actually pretty good helpers when it comes to holding stuff and handing you tools. The result wasn’t beautiful, but it worked well enough to hang our art on and made the booth look presentable. It turned out like this.

c1web
We were as prepared as we were gonna get. The whole Griot Crew, Jiba, LaMorris, and I spent the next three days selling books and talking to attendees pretty much non stop. Thankfully, Jiba and I aren’t known for being quiet guys. We managed to sell out of all the Issue 1 of the Mark of Cloven and 2/3 of the Issue 2 and 3. All the first issue trades sold out and about half of the preview books for 4 Pages, 16 Bars. It was a rousing, exhausting, success.

I don’t have too much of a recap of the actual con. I spent the vast majority of the time in the booth, pushing product. There were, as usual, a whole bunch of cool cosplay and some folks came by to visit the booth, so that was nice. But I didn’t manage to see any panels or really take a lot of time looking around. Rachel and I did hunt for Borderlands swag and managed to get a pair of matching hats. I also picked up some posters that were Twin Peaks themed, mock paperback book covers. I also had to break a bunch of $20 dollar bills at one point so I picked up a bunch of cheap old Conan comics and some issues of Heavy Metal. Over the course of the weekend, it was inspiring to see so many people excited for the project and also to see so many indie creators all in one place. It’s good to know you’re not alone in this daydream factory.

Even with all the activity I did manage to have a good meeting with Gracie before the C2E2 madness and rolled my movie outline past her and, together, we worked out the narrative timeline. I can put that one on the back burner for a couple of weeks. I’m hoping to have a full writing day tomorrow. I’ll have a couple hours of framing to do, I’m sure, but beyond that I should get a good ten hours into my ‘Satanic Panic’ story.  I think I might end up calling it ‘The Gate Below Bethel’. We’ll see. After that, I finish up Issue 5 of Mark of the Cloven. #4 is done and Jiba’s working away on the art. He assures me that, as long as life doesn’t throw a curve ball, it should be done in the next 6 weeks.  So that’s cool. Issue 5 will be written long before that.

Tons to do, not enough time to do it. With any luck, I’ll have another story draft done by tomorrow!

 

Slogging the Mire: 4/13/15 Update

Slogging the Mire: 4/13/15 Update

A good amount of what goes into writing is discipline and focus; the actual act of pulling an idea out into reality and getting it onto a page. In a lot of ways, that’s the hardest part. Lots of people have great ideas, wild imaginations, and can have elaborate worlds just swirling around inside their skulls. The real difficulty, the hardest part, is managing to get that content to appear on a page, hammering it into an acceptable shape, and making it something that others can see as clearly within their own heads. That’s the work part. The daydream part is, usually, easier.

But it isn’t always the case. You see, anyone can daydream free-form. It’s no task at all to let your mind wander and follow where it leads. A lot of authors do this. They just daydream and go from there, following their own heads. If that gets them a story, excellent. A random story appears. It may well be fantastic.

That’s not how I work. Thing is, there’s a failing in that method. It’s tremendously difficult to write to a target. If I, as a creator, want to write a story about dealing with loss in the wrong ways, or the triumph of intellect over irrationality, or the human capacity to empathize beyond our species, or any number of concepts, then straight up free-form daydreaming is going to be less than helpful. It will actually hinder my process. When you write to a target idea you need a sort of intentional daydreaming. You have to break your creativity, just like you would a wild horse, and it’s equally difficult. Too much, and it won’t take you to the new ideas you need. Too little, and you can’t stay on target. It is a difficult balance, but one, I find, is the hallmark difference between professional and amateur authors. The ability to write something specific, on command, is vastly more marketable than trying to sell your own ideas.

I practice this. I write for Griot. Not my characters, not my world, but I treat them with the same care. I am translating Jiba Molei Anderson’s dreams when I write the Horsemen, not mine. Sure, I taint them, infuse them, and expand on them, but at their core, I’m an interpreter. When I write my image inspired stories I’m practicing writing within the boundaries set by the illustration. Even when I write stories of my own, I’m adhering to a goal I set before starting and I measure the success or failings of any given work by my original intention. How close to the mark did I come?

I have been working on writing a story set in the Satanic Panic of the Eighties for the past month. I’m several thousand words in and, as I was simply ‘following my nose’ in daydream style to see how that turned out for me. I discovered that while I was writing a very interesting story, it was significantly off goal for what I’d been hoping to accomplish and the spirit I’d intended to convey. I grew up in a church during the panic. I was an avid Dungeons and Dragons player while simultaneously being an active member in a church that declared such activity as communion with demons. Literal demons. I spent years, and thousands of hours of effort, trying to reconcile these two things on account of what I was taught by my church group. It was a harrowing part of my life that I’m tremendously glad is over.

In my current story, I’d decided I wanted to use my past as a setting, but not to make it the theme. I didn’t want to talk specifically or provide direct commentary about how churches all across the country railed against an imaginary foe for nearly a decade and their effort and devotion had all been a paranoid response to some very talented con men. I just wanted to dip my toe in. To tell an engaging horror story within that setting and to expand on the false mythology into something interesting.

As I approached the ending of the story I kept having trouble with coming up with something that would work to make the point I wanted. I had a theme, a tone, a setting, a character arc, and the first third of my word count. Now was not the time for idle daydreams. This horse was on a narrow trail and I had a specific destination to get to. I refuse to let the story dictate my direction. For two and a half weeks it’s been bucking me. Just do this. Just change that. Just add another character. Just drop that element. It said. Two and a half weeks of ideas, over and over, in my head. Many of them excellent. Just not what I want. I was starting to think the story might be broken.

And then, Saturday night, at three in the morning, it stopped bucking. My creativity surrendered to my will and offered up the exact thing I needed to make the plot work, to jibe with the character arc, to compliment the tone, and to make this story work exactly how I want, without cutting any corners.

I’m aware that, as a reader, it’s not possible to ever know if a story is what the author intended or not. Readers just know if they like it or not. But that hardly matters to me at this point. It’s about training, and discipline, and making my mind do exactly what I want, when I want it.

The daydream phase isn’t always easy. I’ve caught this one, after a very specific hunt, and am holding it tight. Now comes the next hard part; dragging it onto a page.

I’ll keep you posted.

Slogging the Mire: 4/2/15 Update

Slogging the Mire: 4/2/15 Update

It was eight years ago this weekend that I went up to the World Horror Convention in Toronto. I bummed a ride and managed to secure a spot on the floor of the con-suite to sleep (beds are for wussies). I’d gone with the Twilight Tales crew and we were pitching the, newly released, beast of an anthology, The Book of Dead Things. I’ve got a soggy mummy story in it.

Anyway, it was a long weekend of drunken discussions about horror movies, writing craft, and the sorts of fun that only happen when you get a bunch of horror fans together. If you’re not aware, horror fans are typically the nicest fans in the world. Dunno why, but it’s true. Perhaps it’s the sense of camaraderie from shared nightmare experiences, or the kinship that comes from being ostracized for giggling at decapitations. I couldn’t say for certain. Suffice it to say it was a damn good time that included my being kissed by the legendary Wayne Allen Sallee.

But that’s another story…

During the course of this weekend there were scheduled readings from lots of authors. I had one of the slots. Now, I was used to reading in the safe confines of the good old haunted Red Lion Inn, but  I suspected that reading at World Horror might be a tad different. After all, I’d just had an accidental conversation with Ellen Datlow on an elevator and didn’t even recognize her. I didn’t know what to expect.

Turns out it was a pretty life changing reading. This cute girl I’d met, and invited to the thing, ended up liking it and hanging out with me the rest of the weekend. Then long distance dating. Then I wound up marrying her. Basically, there hasn’t been a time since I read that story that she hadn’t been around!

Obviously, its a magical story, about, well… you know… a dead, man-eating, dog.

So, in honor of the eight year anniversary of meeting my amazing wife, Jill, I’ve decided to add this woman attracting, amazing literature, to my website. A Burial For Zeus is not a good story, but it will always be the best one I ever wrote. Here is is, unedited, flaws an all, exactly as Jill first heard it.

burial

Oh, and as far as an update of sorts. I wrote a fun sci-fi story set on Mars last week. You can find that in the Science Fiction section of the site. In fact, the whole site’s gotten a bit of an overhaul. Cruise around, check it out. Let me know what you think. Content should be a lot easier to find and there’s a good deal more of it.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna go back to writing.

Slogging the Mire: 3/17/15 Update

Slogging the Mire: 3/17/15 Update

Four months with no updates! Where the hell have I been?

I’ve been here. Sadly, the judemire website has not. The domain needed renewing in November. I got right on it, but for some reason, the site didn’t spring back to life. This was in the middle of the holiday rush for the shop and then January turned out to be a super busy month running the business. I made a few attempts to solve the issue but, due to work, couldn’t invest the time required. Things settled down in February and I was able to track the root of the problem and solve it. Isn’t technology grand?

That gets us current, staring back over an awful, four month long, chuck of inactivity. Unfun. I intend to remedy it.

Like I mentioned, it was a frantic holiday season, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been getting things done. I got tired of not having a writing office and, using scrap wood and metal grates, built a giant cage to serve as an office down in the shop basement! So far, it seems to be working and my productivity has increased. Issue four of Mark of the Cloven is written, done, and in the can. Jiba’s working on art for it. He’s been even busier than I have, but it’s coming along. Slow and steady wins the race. Griot is also going to take the first three issues and collect them into a trade paperback. To make that a little special, I managed to write a prologue that will get added in as bonus content. I got to play with the primary villains of the series for the scene, so that was lots of fun. I’m hip deep into issue five, Oya’s issue, and have her running all around South America, speedster style. So, the Horsemen stuff I’m doing is under control. Four more issues after the current one I’m writing. I’m going to ease up on the schedule, do one a quarter, so I’ve got time to work on other shorts and some novel outlining and prep.

I’m still working on assembling a bunch of stories and art for the Cult Fiction Quarterly mag. About 90% of the writing for issue one is done. I’ve just got to finish up my story set in the Satanic Panic of the 80’s and we need to do some final edits and grammar checking on the others. Then onto finding artists to depict scenes and do some covers. The serial horror comic that I’m writing and Neal is illustrating is coming along nicely. It’s pretty great looking with Neal’s rough cartoony style juxtaposed with the heavy violent content of the story. And, to top it off, Gracie’s been shooting some really creepy cult inspired portraiture for the photography feature in the issue. It’s all looking like a lot of fun. There’s no solid deadline for the project. I’m just going to keep working on it until I’m happy with the results, have a few issues in the can, an decide we’re ready to release.

In the midst of all this I’m helping write a surreal film short. Outline stages right now, but it’s looking promising. None of the ideas on the table are bad and I’ll enjoy working on all of them. It’ll be a fun experiment to shift away from prose writing and into screenwriting. It’s looser, more open to interpretation, and I’m stoked to see how my idea transforms and changes as it goes though a whole bunch of other people and the film process. I’m no source material purist. I’ll be happy to see the evolution.

That’s it on the project front. It’s more than enough! Thankfully, we’ve hired a bit of help at the shop so I’ve actually got more free time to work on all of this. Things are still good/normal on the homefront. Munchkin is turning four in a couple days. The middle one is graduating High School in a couple months. Amazing how fast it’s going! Which reminds me; I’ve got to get back to work! Time’s a-wastin’!