Google+ Followers

Saturday, March 29, 2014

April Fool's Discount on "Fool's Illusion"--No Fool'in!




What's the worst April Fool's trick you've had played on you? It probably wasn't as bad as any of the ones the many characters in my short fiction collection, The Fool's Illusion, pull on their victims. But this one is no trick: from now through Tuesday April 1st (11:59 P.M. Pacific Time) you can have the print edition of The Fool's Illusion for $3 off the list price! This book has a little something for everybody: vampires; the living dead; magicians; deadly creatures from the deep; cyber, outer and liquid space adventures and nightmares; strange but fascinating characters. So don't fool yourself into thinking you have plenty of time to purchase this one at this great discount because you don't. April Fool's is only two days away, so get it now!

Go to https://www.createspace.com/4376356 and use the discount code DHYE2PQA to purchase your copy!

Until next time . . .

Friday, March 28, 2014

Writing Through the Block to Make a Living

I attended Wizard World Comic Con when it was here in Sacramento three weeks ago, the largest pop culture convention in the area so far. It was basically a mini version of San Diego Comic-Con: the lines were nearly literal blockbusters, both the ones for admission into the con as well as the ones to see big name celebrity guests such as Star Trek’s William Shatner and Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee. As has been done with celebrity appearances at San Diego Comic-Con, Wizard Con staff had to cut off admission once the rooms reached their capacities. Unfortunately, yours truly was in the cut-off part of the lines for Shatner and Lee, who must have been the biggest celebrities there. But while I dig seeing famous pop culture stars like them speak, while I dig seeing fellow participants in colourful costumes of their favourite pop fiction characters such as Spider Man, Wonder Woman, Batman and Thor, one of the things I attend cons for most is to talk to other artists and writers either like myself or who are more experienced.

Even though Wizard World is primarily a comic book convention, their were plenty of authors there whose work went beyond just comic books (even though comic books are lately becoming acknowledged as literature). I chatted with fellow Sacramento fantasy/horror author M. Todd Gallowglas at his table in the exhibit hall where he displayed his Halloween Jack and Tears ofRage novels. He and I exchanged some great ideas about marketing non-comic books at comic book conventions. So I learn from my peer authors as well as my senior ones. And there was one senior author there I learned some very valuable advice from: Michael Golden, who has written for Marvel and DC. Mr. Golden held a panel on making a living from fiction writing that I was sure to attend. One of the biggest gems he offered was how to deal with writing during those times you’re not inspired to write. And how do you do that? Simple: write through the writer’s block.

One of Golden’s most valuable advice he gave at his panel was that when you’re writing fiction for a living do not rely on inspiration. Inspiration is very momentary and so it happens when it happens which can be within a matter of days or even months if not longer. You can’t wait for the muse to drop you ideas when you need a regularly paying salary. Therefore, as Golden said, a writer cannot afford not to be in the mood to write. A writer must work every time they sit down to their writing session and so to do this, more often than not, they have to be their own inspiration. That means composing a story when you don’t feel like writing anything or when you feel you have nothing to write about. Along with this, he said to stick with original ideas, meaning that when you start a story you must continue writing it until you get to the end even if it means having to write what seems to be nonsense. He says that you shouldn’t start a story, stop in the midst of it and then go back and change it or toss the whole thing entirely to start a different story. To do these things will only delay the income you would make from your work and that means delaying your bills, your rent/house mortgage and maybe even your meals. Author William Saroyan said that writing for income should be looked at like it were a “day” job: you write even when you don’t feel like it in the same way you work when you don’t feel like it. A lot of us artists know what it is to work a non-creative job and to do our tasks from the beginning of the shift to the end when we care very little about the type of work the job consists of. Needless to say, we definitely like writing far more than our non-creative jobs (or most of us do, at least) but, even so, there are days that we just don’t feel up to writing anything. Those are the days we have to remember the income that we are writing for.

So you write through the writer’s block but then come out with a poor story. What happens then? You go through your one or two revisions to make the story presentable and communicable, but you don’t keep going back to perfect it like you would with a work of art that’s made to display in an art gallery, as Golden put it. Creating a story for aesthetic reasons is something you do secondary to your projects that would bring in a living income. You put your aesthetic work in its own time slot when money isn’t as crucial of a matter. With the writing you want to make a living income from you must write and publish on the moment. If you happen to catch that aesthetic effect in your work then fine. But if you don’t you can’t afford to go back to reshape the work in order to find that aesthetic effect. You must tell the story, and if the story comes out poorly even after making it communicable to the audience, then, as Golden advised, you send that one off for publication and just make a better attempt on the next story.

For me, thinking of fiction writing as a journey is a great way to avoid, or at least work through, writer’s block. In the rough draft stage, I put myself in the mind of a character that often starts off very flat. The character will develop as the story develops and also when I make a character profile after I’ve completed my first draft. And so, regardless of how flat my character starts out, I take that character on a journey and so move him/her through imaginary space and events. The setting and events keep developing and lead to other settings and events based on the character’s decisions and reactions. For example, I’ll put character Carlos in a train station where he walks to one platform only to discover he’s at the wrong one. So he runs across another track to catch the correct train but at a bad time: another train departs just as he’s crossing. This puts him in the hospital. Putting Carlos in one setting and his actions performed in that setting leads him to another setting.

Thinking for my character in terms of spatial movement, in terms of a journey, enables me to write the first draft spontaneously. I don’t go back to revise anything until after I have completed the first draft. And so even if I have to make my character do stupid or seemingly meaningless things, I continue that journey of words until I feel the character comes to an end of that journey by solving the problem he/she has been dealing with. That’s how I overcome writer’s block which many other authors will say is not really writer’s block. They say this because, even if you are writing what seems to be nonsense, you’re still writing; you’re putting something on paper or screen to work with. And as long as you have that and make it communicable and believable and worth the reader’s time, then you’ve succeeded no matter how poor the aesthetics of the story may be.

As long as you’re willing to write through those times you are not in the mood, as long as you’re willing to write through writer’s block, and as long as you’re willing to make the story communicable and interesting to the reader, you can make a living as a writer. Of course that living income won’t occur over night but if you keep working in that mind-state and with that intention, you’ll eventually make that sustainable income. The very experience of writing the stories you sell is practice within itself. No matter how successful or unsuccessful it may be, you learn from any mistakes you make provided you take notice of them and you do better on the next story, and then you do the same for the story after that, and so on. It’s like working any other job. You’re not going to get all the tasks down pat in the first shift or two. But the more shifts you work, the better you’ll get at the tasks. The same holds true for stories.


Can you think of other ways to write spontaneously under a deadline whether that deadline is self-imposed or set by an editor? Please let us know in the box below. 

Until next time . . . 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wizard Con-ival

A page from America's Best Comics, issue 26, 1948
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Saturday I was at one of the fast food joints in town doing research on my smart horn (phone) for a topic to write this blog entry on when I discovered that Sacramento Wizard Con’s tickets for this coming Saturday were almost sold out. I jumped into my car and rushed home (within the speed limit) to register. (I don’t do monetary exchanges on my horn in public.) I had thought I would get in for free for the whole weekend with a press pass. But, after receiving a reply to my email request for one, I was told that the news media outlet I write for (Examiner.com) was not one of Wizard Con’s preferred outlets and they had to give preference because of the growing attendance of the con.

Wizard Con is a touring comic book and pop culture convention and so it makes appearances at various cities throughout the nation. This year Sacramento happens to be one of those cities. Besides comics, the con also features events related to movies, games, television and books. There’s a 10 dollar discount if you register online. For those of you who are interested in attending and want to save money (and, unless you’re a millionaire, who doesn’t want to?), I suggest you do it as soon as possible because tickets are selling fast.

Some of the most notable artists and writers are going to be there, including the legendary Stan Lee of Marvel Comics. Being a big Marvel Comics fan, I’ll definitely be there for his panel. Neal Adams who did much of the artwork for Batman comics in the late 1960s and early ‘70s will also be making an appearance. He’s been said to be the one who saved Batman from his campy appearance, which the ‘60s TV show was responsible for, and turned him back into the menacing night figure that he originally had been when Bob Kane created him in the late 1930s.

I’ll be sure to see Adams and hopefully get my Batman graphic novel signed by him. It’s a 1977 one that collects 1971 and ’72 issues of the Ra’s Al Ghul storyline. As some of you may know, such collections were not called graphic novels back then but that’s basically what they were. The only difference was that, instead of the waxy paper the pages that most of today’s graphic novels--let alone monthly issues--are made of, the pages of graphic novels back then were made from news print just like the individual issues they collected. Also the graphic novels of that time were around 13-and-a-half by 10-and-a-half inches and called “limited collectors’ editions” rather than “graphic novels”.

Besides creators of super hero comics, Wizard Con will also feature numerous writers and artists in the horror and science fiction genres. These include local best selling author, M. Todd Gallowglas who writes the Tears of Rage and Halloween Jack series of novels. I’ve had the pleasure to talk with Mr. Gallowglas at past events. He’s not only a writer of fiction but also a professional story teller at Renaissance faires and Celtic festivals. He has self-published numerous works, many that have been in ebook format and have been Amazon best sellers.  His book, First Chosen, was on Amazon’s 2012 Dark Fantasy and Fantasy Serieslists. His short story, “The Half-Faced Man”, was presented an honourable mention from the Writers of the Future contest. He has also written stories for the Call of Chthulugame series by Fantasy Flight Games.

Another Sacramento author who will be making an appearance at the con is Vincent M. Wales. Mr. Wales wrote the 2004 dystopian novel, One Nation Under God. Other writers on the guest list are fantasy author Davidson L. Haworth and steampunk author Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Mr. Haworth is known for his Prali Trilogy, of which his most recent in the series is 2013’s The Vampires of Prali. Ms. Holly-Rosing is known for her steampunk/supernatural mystery web comic and novellas that are set in the universe of the Boston Metaphysical Society.

One of the things I like most about a convention are the panels and workshops, in which Wizard Con will definitely have plenty. They include ones on writing and illustration for comic books. There will be a panel on Lovecraftin pop culture which is scheduled for Saturday at 7 PM and will include such topics as Lovecraft’s works’ influence on gaming, film, TV and comics. 

There will be many notable actors as guests, too: William Shatner of Star Trek; Billy Dee Williams of the Star Wars saga; Chris Hemsworth of Thor; Julie Benz of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Laurie Holden of The Walking Dead and X-Files; Bruce Campbell of the ‘90s cult film Army of Darkness. James Hong, who played the eye manufacturer in Blade Runner, the film adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, will also make an appearance.

Besides the guests and panels, there will be plenty of cosplayers in colourful costumes of their favourite pop culture characters. The costuming may be a little late for Mardi Gras/Carnival since Fat Tuesday (a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday) is today, but it’s always Carnival at a comic book/science fiction/fantasy convention! Or perhaps I should call it “Con-ival”.   

Speaking of Carnival, which often consists of jesters, I may even be able to give you an Amazon code for a 50 percent, or more, discount off The Fool’s Illusion simply if you come say “hi” to me. (Sorry, I wasn’t able to get a table, so you’ll have to look out for me.) I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday for sure, although I’m not exactly sure what time. Sometime in the afternoon, for certain.

Wizard Con will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center downtown, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Visit their website for more details.


Until next time . . . 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Invoking the Music for Your Writing


Photo Credit: Openclipart.org


While I was writing a story a couple weeks ago I tried what many authors do while they write which is playing music in the background. Writers such as Steven King and Christopher Adam have said they have played music to support the quality of their writing. It's been said that Harlan Ellison has done the same. Playing music as you write can enhance creativity and increase motivation.

Music is inspiring and so it fuels the imagination. When you listen to music (music videos excluded) the mind is forced to imagine what is going on in the song.  It shouldn't be surprising that the word music comes from muse which were goddesses in Greek mythology believed to inspire artists' and writers' work, especially great epics such as Homer's Odyssey. Writing coach Lauren Sapala says on her blog that "Music triggers an emotional response in the human brain. Because of this involuntary response, it’s much easier to let down our guard and let our creativity do exactly what it wants." She especially talks about this in terms of character creation. I strongly suggest to other writers to check out her article, "How Music Can Help You Write Better Characters", especially if they're fiction writers like myself.

Steven King says in his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, that he has written to hard rock music playing in the background, music by bands such as Guns N' Roses and AC/DC. He says it's a "way of keeping the mundane world out" (On Writing 156). While this sounds more like it helps concentration, "keeping the mundane world out" definitely provides room for the imaginary worlds to come in. Adam Christopher, author of the novel Empire State and its sequel, The Age Atomic, keeps a list of songs for each story he writes. For example, he has a playlist for Age Atomic alone, the list consisting of songs by artists ranging from Count Basie to The Cure ("The Age Atomic Playlist." The Age Atomic).

To be honest, it's hard for me to say how much the music I played helped me write my story. I'm sure it motivated me to write and enhanced my work on a subconscious level. But I can say that when I've played music while working on my art, much of that I use for illustrations to accompany my stories, it has helped me to both focus and submerse myself in the work. I've known that to be the case ever since my high school art classes when our teacher, a very open minded and hip guy, would allow us to play the classroom stereo as we worked.

My real writing motivation comes from thinking of the act of writing as a journey. In this manner I can move my characters through scenes that I let spontaneously come to mind; I like to surprise and fascinate myself and so I never concretely plan my entire story in my head before the act. In that respect I'm already inspired, at least as far as the conscious level goes. However, the manner is very similar to the way I listen to music which is also a journey of the mind for me.

I do my journey through music best when laying back on my living room couch listening to it and doing nothing else. I don't even write notes of the fantasies that the music inspires; I fly through them in my head and, sometime after, they will eventually form into story ideas. To write down the fantasies after a music session probably works really good for some writers. But my musical fantasies can go way way out even beyond the outer limits (or at least it seems) and so to a point where it would be too hard to record them word for word. So I often have to let them settle into stories that can be more easily communicated.

So music often enhances writing creativity and motivation but the way it does these varies among writers. The same can be said of what kind of music works best for writing inspiration. For me it's the genres and artists I love listening to anytime: old school rock such as that by the Beatles and Bee Gees; sixties soul; 70's disco; bop and fusion jazz; today's electronica such as that by Daft Punk. Whether I listen to these during my writing sessions or outside them, it inspires my work. What's most important is to let the imagination soar because when it does it's going to help you with your storytelling either immediately or gradually.

Do you write to background music? How much has it helped your writing? Do certain kinds of music help you write better and more imaginatively than others? Please feel free to leave your answers in the box below.

Until next time . . .

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A New Background for a New Year

I told you that before the month was out I would have a new background for the blog and here it is! It's actually borrowed from a cover of the 1953 issue of the science fiction/fantasy magazine, Weird Tales. The artist for that cover was Frank Kelley Freas. You may have noticed that I made a slight change in the font for the blog's title, too. Let me know what you think of these changes. Do they work? Do they match the content of the blog okay? Leave your comments in the box below.

Until next time . . .

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014 in a Crystal Ball?


Photo Credit: This is a derivative form of a page taken from the September 1941 issue of Weird Tales via Wikimedia Commons. The bold text at the end has been added by the blog's author.



I can’t say I’m a prophet or a soothsayer, medium, fortune teller, whatever you prefer to call them. And so I can’t predict anybody’s future, perhaps not even my own. But I can anticipate my own future as far as planning for it goes and so I do believe we are all capable of determining our own futures. Can we predict them? Probably not, at least not to any kind of precision. So while I can’t see 2014 in precision through a crystal ball, I can plan for my future of 2014 as a writer. This can be done through making new year’s resolutions. But because the past determines the present which in turn determines the future, I will first look back in the crystal ball of anticipation at my accomplishments of 2013.

The highlights of my writing accomplishments of 2013:

I self-published my first book of short fiction. The Fool’sIllusion has been my most important success if 2013. Fool’s Illusion is a venue where my short fiction has been gathered in one place for the first time in my life and so it will make my writing known to the world more and so as a writer I won’t be hiding in the shadows of the literary industry as much. It’s also important because it has helped me market my material better even though I’m a writer and artist much more than I am a marketer.

Several copies of The Fool’s Illusion were sold. This comes along with publishing, especially since it happened almost instantly. I’m not saying it occurred overnight (at least not literally). But I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. How did I make it happen so soon? I learned from other writers--on their blog posts, in articles and at convention panels--how they sold their work. Speaking more practically, I made my work known before publishing it. I marketed Fool’s Illusion through promotional book marks at related events such as sci fi/fantasy conventions. I updated people about it through venues such as A Far Out Fantastic Site, Facebook and Twitter. But not all of this accomplishment was done by me alone. Part of it was made possible by family and friends who I made my book known to early on. Without their interest I probably would not have sold a single copy yet. So I’m very grateful to them.

I did two live readings. One was at the Sacramento Public Library’s Natomas branch. The other was at WesterCon in Sacramento back in the summer. Both were a reading of either a story or story excerpt from Fool’s Illusion. This also helped promote the book before it published, since it was in progress at the times of the readings. I’m very grateful to Sac Public Library, my self-publishing group that I belonged to at the time, and both the staff and fellow attendees of WesterCon for these opportunities.

I returned to my local critique group. I attended meet-ups with a writers’ critique group in Davis several years ago but had to put my attendance on hiatus. It was last summer when I finally returned and received a very warm welcome-back from people who had not even been with the group when I attended it last. I’ve also received useful feedback from the group showing what needs improvement and what works in my writing. The group has been very encouraging of my work while yet being honest with it.

Fool’s Illusion received its first two reviews. My book of short fiction received two really good reviews on Amazon , one that can also be found at HorrorAddicts.net. I am grateful to both writers of these reviews.


My writing resolutions for 2014:

Write a short story every two weeks.

Post at the Far Out Fantastic Site more regularly. I’ve probably come across as pretty inconsistent about posting here. While many writers post weekly or monthly on the same day of the week or month, many others of us get very busy with not only our writing careers but life outside them. This is especially so with us self-publishing writers. But because I know what it is for a reader to become overly anxious to read the next post of a favourite author, I’m going to try posting here at least twice a month on either a Friday or Saturday.

Change the Far Out Fantastic Site’s appearance. Many of you who have been following the Site for a long time are probably sick and tired of seeing the same background and graphics. I admit, even though in my opinion the design is not bad, it’s not much to stare at after two or three visits. So I have in the plans to put up a new background, hopefully a full, concrete scene with activity going on such as bats flying from a castle’s towers toward you viewers (not to attack you, I assure you). But since I’m not a computer wiz (I’m more a computer enthusiast) it has taken me a while to make this move, but it is in progress and I have selected several potential backgrounds. You’ll see a new background before the month is out.

Distribute copies of Fool’s Illusion to Sacramento area bookstores. Exactly when this will be and which stores I do not know yet. But I’ll definitely keep you updated.

Directly sell copies of Fool’s Illusion at conventions.

Do a virtual book tour. I still haven’t reached the planning stage for this yet, so I’m not sure when this will happen. I need to talk to other bloggers and look at other online venues for this. So I’ll also keep you updated on this as well.

Publish in literary magazines. It’s been a long time since I’ve used literary magazines as a venue for publication. But because Fool’s Illusion is published, which has been a very tough but exciting project, I may submit my fiction to magazines again and take a short break from self-publishing.

So there are my accomplishments for last year, and my resolutions for this new year of 2014. What are yours as writers, artists or readers? Are there any changes you’d like to see here at the Fantastic Site that I haven’t mentioned? Please let me know by leaving your comments in the box below.

And Happy New Year! 





Tuesday, December 24, 2013

If Tim Burton Remade "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians"?

It's struck my curiosity for the last couple of Christmases that if Tim Burton ever did a remake of the 1960s B-rated movie, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, what would it look like? Probably something like the sketch below (please click it to see full detail) which is particularly taken from the toy battle scene between the evil Martians and the Earth and Martian children . . .


Please click to see larger image.
Photo Credit: Steven Rose, Jr.


Happy Hallow-days, everybody!


--Steven Rose, Jr.