Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ANTHOCON was awesome!

Yeah. I drove three and a half hours, obeying several speed limits, to get there before Brian Keene's Keynote Speech. Which he posted on his website, and is an excellent read, by the way, so go do it now.

The company was good. The attendees were an enjoyable mix of pro and fan, with the vast majority of the authors from the Epitaphs anthology in attendance. So I did what I love to do when I'm in the company of writers; we spoke. We exchanged ideas, laughed at stuff, and talked. Authors love to talk.

We also spoke of the death of Les Daniels, and I have to say, I learned a great deal about the man. I knew him as the author of some terrific vampire novels, creator of Don Sebastian de Villanueva. Billed as "The vampire horrified by humanity" Don Sebastian consistently went to the most horrible places and times in history, such as Spanish Inquisition, the French Terror, and the lower classes of Victorian England. They're excellent novels. But Dan was much more than that. He was the first person to publish a book on the history of horror, Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media, as well as the first serious look at comics: Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America. Les was, therefore one of the people responsible for raising two art forms that I enjoy out of their "it's pulp and no one should study it" gutters. He did a lot more, and his friends shared a great deal of the other work he'd done. Les was remarkable, no doubt about it. He will be missed.

Anthocon also featured at least a couple of people who were a little bit out of their element. Local author K. D. Mason writes murder mysteries set along New Hampshire's coast. We talked a bit. He was a nice guy. Among the vendors were a pair of college programs with graduate degrees in creative writing, and they looked bored. I got some literature from them.

But the real draws was the authors. Writing can be very lonely, because it's very seldom that collaboration happens in company. But talking with other people who write always makes the hard parts seem less difficult, because we all face the same problems. Editors! Reviews from people who didn't read the book! Finding time to write! But the conversation always circles back into "Have you read this book/story/series and what did you think of it." Because the New England Horror Community is a group of voracious readers, and they've all got informed opinions about what they're reading. Is the protagonist of Hunger Games nothing but a victim through the whole series? There's a couple of opinions, and they're all got a reason for the opinion.

The major lesson learned? Brian Keene can tell when someone is telling a Harlan Ellison story from twenty feet away. If that's not a superpower, I don't know what is.

Excellent con.

Friday, November 11, 2011

After twenty years, I'm going back to Portsmouth!

This weekend, I will be the guest (my first time as the guest of a convention) at Anthocon, hosted by Shroud Press, in Portsmouth, NH.

Portsmouth is a lovely town on the New Hampshire coast... I used to visit there when I was in college. Among other things, it has the USS Nautilus, the US's first nuclear submarineUSS Albacore, formerly the US Navy's fastest submarine (Thanks to Donovan Loucks and Dan Foley for correcting me on that). But it was a nice little touristy place, quite attractive, with some nice shops. And now I'm going back.

Why? Because Shroud Books is publishing Epitaphs, the first anthology of the New England Horror Writers Association. And I'm in it.

I wrote "Not an Ulcer" for the gay-themed Unspeakable Horror anthology. It was one of my bridesmaid stories, and something like the third story I’d seriously written. The anthology asked for a rewrite, which they ultimately rejected. But just being asked for a rewrite was pretty big. But Lee Thomas had a story with a similar concept called “I’m Your Violence.” Do I stack up against Lee Thomas? I think not! But hey, I got asked to do a rewrite! At that time, 2008, I was in the running for several anthologies, and although I was in the second-to-last cut for all of them, I didn’t get into any. I started calling these bridesmaid stories on this blog; always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

The story is based in some way in my job time in California, but no character is based on anyone I knew. I wanted to do a story about someone at war with himself. At first, there were several Rush Limbaugh references, but I’ve cut them out. People read stories to be entertained, not to be preached at.

The story takes a real chance with the main character–the first line makes it quite clear that he’s a bigot, very difficult to sympathize with him. But I'm good with character, and I like a challenge.

I originally send “Nicaragua 1986” for consideration, which was written with the intention of submitting it to Epitaphs. I sent “Not an Ulcer” as an off-chance, since it had been rejected by five different markets but Tracy liked it. I don’t do body horror often, and I did polish it a little after every rejection, so it’s a much stronger story now than when it was submitted to Unspeakable Horror.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apologies, people. There was a hurricane, and then a class that is eating my brain. It's a good class, but I'm spending some fifteen hours a week on a three-credit course. It's a good coruse, field expereince an all that, but sometimes I wish that it took up less of my time.

I need to update this blog. Since I last posted, two stories have been published: 'The Masked Messenger" by David Conyers and myself, in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #52. It's a good story of terrorism, violence, hatred, arrogance, and horrible things from outside of time and space. Pretty much everything you've come to expect out of a story I'm part of.

Second, on the 12th, which is to say Saturday, I will be at Anthocon because I placed a story in the New England Horror Writers Association's anthology Epitaphs. "Not an Ulcer" has been around the block a few times, and I will provide a little insight into this story later.

I've also sold a story to Undead and Unbound, a Brian Sammons anthology. I''ve been invited to contribute to a couple other anthologies, also. One story is taking shape nicely. So yeah, I've been busy, and not just with playing Fallout: New Vegas.

Although it was a lot of fun.