Monday, March 28, 2011

Almost Done the Edit on 'Terribilis'

I got my manuscript in pdf format, the way it will likely look in print, only with the editor's 'comment boxes' to the right, back a short while ago and spent a few days going through the novel, 'Terribilis', for one of my publishers, Ian at ATOMIC FEZ. I love Ian's commentary; his wit, sometimes with a slice of dark humour or worse, that never fails to make me laugh. Editing is a necessary process, one of which I usually find to be quite enjoyable, but made all the more bearable when you have a solid editor with which to work. I've been blessed with good editors most of the time, something for which I'm always thankful.

I have one new scene to insert into the novel (Ian's idea) which will probably work well. Perhaps this will render the novel 'almost done', or maybe 'done'? Not sure, but it's close. Very close.

I have this happy feeling right now, the feeling of having accomplished quite a few projects recently while new ones beckon.

If you're publishing and you've found a good editor, remember to say 'thank you', remember to listen objectively, and keep your sense of humour.

So, to the editors who have made a difference over the years and who put the polish on that final product: muchos gracias!

Final edit on screenplay done

Finished it today; the final edit on my co-authored screenplay 'Maybelline', one of numerous scripts written with Norm Rubenstein. We've each worked on the file, collaborating the way people do when they live many miles away from the ability to sit in the same room - we send it back and forth via e-mail.

The script came together, beginning with its short fiction counterpart, then deciding upon how to make the story 'bigger, more commanding' for the screen. What is 'shown' in narrative in the story form must now be shown visually for film.

It was interesting to watch the story evolve from one draft to the next, adding a bit here, sculpting a bit there, developing this scene more, changing that scene completely. It's equally intriguing to see how two minds come together to form one piece of completed work.

I sent the final edit off to Norm this afternoon. He'll take another run through it and maybe, just maybe, we'll both think that this time, 'this is it'. That's always a great feeling when you know you've done your best work.

One more script to polish after this, and then we'll be sending them onward for a third party to look at.  More on that later, when the liberty to chat about it becomes okay to do so.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Groundhog is back.

Our resident groundhog has made her annual appearance again. When we moved into this house last summer, we noted that she'd created some tunnels from a porch alongside our house, underground, to another end of the yard. She also lived, with her two young, beneath an old shed in the back yard. We'd watch Mama groundhog and her babes lie on the sunny lawn, limbs spread out in the warmth, nibbling on sweet clover.

I had this idea that she might like some fancier greens and fruits, so carted out some blueberries, some 'Spring Mix' salad greens, pieces of apple, etc. She had no interest. Clearly, clover is 'the thing'.

While making my morning pot of coffee today, I happened to chance a peek through one of the kitchen windows that faces our broad expanse of yard and the surrounding woods, and caught site of Mama hedgehog scrounging for the first fronds of green poking up in a weak sun. Her fur is winter-thick, her frame still quite fat. Perhaps she is carrying young and maybe we'll see one or more small furry faces peeking out at us from the opening beneath the shed, later this spring.

We are blessed with a plethora of animal visits here; wolf, coyote, wild rabbit, groundhog, squirrels, chipmunk, raccoon, deer, a variety of indigenous snakes, and many varities of birds, including the large red-topped woodpecker. Wild turkeys abound, as do pheasant and grouse.

One evening this past winter, waking up to the lonely soliloquoy of a coyote during a three-quarter moon, I stood at the window and located this critter sitting on its haunches in the field behind our line of trees. It threw back its head and bayed with that high yipping sound that only a coyote can produce. From a distance came some resounding echoes. Then the sole coyote got up and began its trek through our yard, its ears alert, its tail like a flag behind it, back out towards the rocky Shield terrain here.

Sometimes, when I hear their cries rise in a chorus, I shiver, sensing they've surrounded some form of prey and my heart goes out to whatever they're about to take down - and yet, it's not like they can dial up for a pizza now, can they? It is part of nature's cycle.

Surely, spotting Mama groundhog this morning is a definate sign of spring. She paused for a moment, as if sensing my appraisal of her, and then began her gathering and munching again; she had her first spring sprigs of grass, I had my coffee and breakfast, and each of us has gone forward with our day.

My groundhog is back.

And what animals delight in your garden?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Volatile March

I've been busily tapping the keys all week, getting one writing project done, then moving on to another. I completed the editorial requirements for my upcoming novel 'Terribilis' as of yesterday, and await further word from Ian, my publisher, as to whether all needs are met, or if anything still remains to be done. It's always exciting to get to the stage of final edits prior to a book being sent for layout and galleys.

I'm also pleased to say that my older sister's daughter, Kim Hiscocks, a graphic designer here in Ontario, has snagged the job of doing the cover art for 'Terribilis'. Kim provided a wonderful mockup that just needs a touch of fine-tuning - happy to have the cover art underway, and happy to introduce a member of my family into the publishing world as a cover artist. Will post the cover as soon as it's ready and when I'm given the 'ya-ya' to do so.

Now my attention turns to doing final editing work on a film script, 'Maybelline' (an adaptation of a short story from my upcoming short horror story collection 'The Color of Bone' from Dark Regions Press) which myself and co-author, Norm Rubenstein have worked on for the past little while, along with a couple of other scripts, the 2nd one which will also be done shortly. More on that in the near future.

It's cold out there today; a frigid - 5 C. Last Friday, while driving around Kingston, people were out in shorts, sandals, light t's as temperatures soared to + 14 C.  I sat outdoors on Sunday, when it was a balmy +5 and enjoyed a fire in our backyard fire pit; with the fire, it was pleasant enough to keep cool air at bay.

But this? The floor of my writing room feels cold, even with a heater going. A persistent wind presses at the bricks of this old farmhouse. Sun, evasive sister who vacations far too south for my taste, is trying to make an entrance past too much cloud. Part of me wants to sit and write a new short story with a cool, damp, lingering feel to it thanks to this weather.

Cup half empty, or cup half full? I'll say 'full' for now because the snow is gone, other than some obstinate patches that grin at me from the distant woods.

My two pet rats are snuggled into their fleece blankets, giving me a look as if to say 'Okay, enough of this...turn on the summer switch, will you?'

My cats have individual fleece blankets on various chairs and sofas and are curled, tails over noses, for the time being.

The dog has two blankets and has managed to weave them into a fine nest upon which she sits like a proud swan, swaddled by the heater.

I check the weather forecast on the internet each day. I love reviewing upcoming weather. April is being predicted as creeping up there into +8 and within that range by the coming week.  But March is being a persistent drip in its cold greyness, like an old cranky-pants that just won't budge from the party.

Bah! Enough of this already. Of course, I can always check the weather in places like Vostok, Antarctica and note their - 50 F weather and then I don't feel quite so badly about it all. And the penguins look delighted, if I do say so myself - optimistic little creatures that they are.

Back to the keyboard, with fuzzy fleece shirt wrapped about myself, fingers flying to keep warm. But I will be damned glad to see warm weather arrive with its bags, to stay for a good while.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Officially Spring: A Sigh of Relief from this Winter-Weary Writer

Over the past week, 95% of the snow we'd accumulated over February from several heavy snow storms has finally melted due to several days of warmish rain and a few unseasonably warm late winter days. Although lawns are more brown than green, it is with relief to the winter-weary eye, snow-blinded by endless white/grey/brown of ice and mud-strewn slush, to finally see actual landscape again; the contour of rock, logs, roads, shrub, etc.

For anyone who spends a good chunk of their day reading, be it at a computer screen or hard copy, grey, short winter days are hard on the eyes. There is something so positive and endearing to be said when spring sun makes its appearance again. Rooms are lit naturally without the hum of overhead lighting. Eyestrain diminishes. Even the quality of the sun, now creeping closer from its vacation domain at the equator, looks richer, more golden as the days lengthen and begin to warm up.

The first few spring flowers are starting to make their appearance; I noted green tips of crocus and daffodil emerging from soil; those first, tentative probes into the open air again. Geese, song birds, and woodpeckers are back. A mother ground hog made her preliminary appearance on the lawn last week, seeking the early green sprigs of grass.

It'll be good to be able to allow this warmth to envelop and soothe the soul as I spin words. Everyone I speak to, in stores, on the street, in daily encounters states the same thing: we may 'make due' with winter; we may even love some winter sports such as skiiing, skating, snow-shoeing, etc. But we open our arms and welcome spring - to be able to sit outside on a porch and not be clad in three inches of water-proof bundling. To look forward to cut off jeans or shorts, light cotton t's, sandals, the warm press of dry, hot sand against the feet and the smell of rich soil warming to the sun.

Even my cats have, for the past month, trailed the spots of sun across the front of the house, following ever westward as the morning waned and bled into afternoons.

Yes, it's inspiring. Upcoming stories may very well have some spring imagery in them. It's time. It's just time.

We Northerners bear our winters well, but even the most ardent northerner has their limits, and I reached mine about two weeks ago with the last round of freezing drizzle and roads filled with dirty slush.

Welcome, Spring. Thanks for your fine green inspiration.

Interview with my publisher at ATOMIC FEZ

Ian Alexander Martin has a recent interview, discussing his ventures with 'Atomic Fez Publishing', part of which covers a bit on my first upcoming novel with him, 'Terribilis'.

You can read the interview at
http://blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com/2011/03/ian-alexander-martin-atomic-fez.html  to find out more about 'Atomic Fez's upcoming titles, and its publisher.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Writing in the Rain

It's March. In Canada, that means a quagmire of drizzle, slush, and plenty of mud out there in the yard. It's not 'sitting outdoors and enjoying the air' season unless you relish the sensation of being very wet. You find ways of keeping busy inside.

It's been a productive winter for me with writing. I imagine that most writers, especially in this clime where the sun doesn't beg for you to step outside and roll in its warmth, probably do a lot of keyboard tapping to not only satisfy their creative urges, but to also help pass the time through the dark season.

In November, I finished the final story for my upcoming short story collection through Dark Regions Press, 'The Color of Bone'. It's a big collection with only three reprints - the remaining seventeen stories are all original. I'm pleased-as-punch (if you'll forgive me the colloquialism) with the collection. I put my heart and best-saved terrors into the stories for nine solid months, working around other writing projects that had looming deadlines, until it was done.  M. Wayne Miller, reknowned cover artist, completed the wrap-around cover for the book. If you want to see the cover (as well as much of his excellent creations), you can visit his site at www.mwaynemiller.com/

Currently, 'The Color of Bone' is being typeset in preparation for ARC's (Advanced Reading Copies) to be sent out to reviewers. We anticipate a late summer release, given reviewers require a four-month reading window in order to provide reviews.

I have done my best to scare you with these stories, and even more so, to return you to your time of youth when the dark, the mysterous, and the spooky element first made itself known in your life: when you may have lain awake in bed, listening to the rain tap along your roof...and then perhaps, another, new, different sound that scuttled over the shingles along with the water...

There's a boy who brings a graveyard bone home, stolen from an exposed grave after listening to a story of 'make-believe' from his older brother, except they come to realize that nothing about the place is make-believe.

There's a man who splashes a stranger travelling along a rain-soaked road one stormy evening - and when he slows to offer a lift, discovers a face so hideous and monstrous beneath the raised black wings...which he'd at first thought to be a sodden umbrella...and the encounter that follows, depicting a divide between this world and a darker one that always hovers close.

One night a cat brings home a severed finger to its master; a most unusual finger of animation which the man, grotesquely fascinated, attempts to keep as a specimen within a jar - big mistake.

And the next time you go camping, think very carefully before you hack into the trees around you for firewood when the signs specifically state to leave the trees untouched, especially if you dare to think that no one will know what you've done.

Twenty horror stories, gift-wrapped with my best dark intention, to make you squirm, grimace, and hopefully...yes, hopefully, keep you awake once you turn out the lights. Listen to the rain fall. Listen, for the sounds that slide and squirm with the rush of water; or that mask themselves within the deadening staccato of a storm.

Over December until now I've co-written three screenplays with my co-writer, Norman L. Rubenstein. People who write or who read horror will know who Norm is; as well as being an exceptionally-gifted writer and reviewer, Norm also works as Associate Editor for Dark Regions Press, among others.
We're putting the finishing touches on the first three screenplays. We're about to start a few others. When timing allows, I will follow up with details as to the progress of the scripts. But we've been very busy with our projects and delighted with it all.

This week I am finishing up a novella for Dark Regions Press. I'm still fiddling with several possible titles. It is ghostly; a creeping type of ghost story inspired by the likes of ghostly books that impacted on me when I was younger: stories like 'The Haunting of Hill House' (Shirley Jackson), 'Ghost Story' (Peter Straub), 'The House Next Door' (Anne Rivers Siddons). It's the type of ghost story that gradually acrues itself around your ankles, like slow-moving, but deadly lichen until you look down and realize that something lethal has occurred. Yes. And I am grinning.

I am about to sit down and incorporate editing requirements for my thriller 'Terribilis', for my publisher/editor, Ian Alexander Martin at Atomic Fez Publishing. Ian has a precise eye for bringing the best out in a piece of writing, the kind of gift every writer hopes to encounter with a publisher. More on 'Terribilis' when I am given the green light to do so.

Another novel, begun but put temporarily to the side while numerous other writing projects took priority, will be picked up later this spring and it is my intention to have it done by the end of the summer. All I'll say at this time is the book is titled 'Rogue' and deals with a very frightening disaster scenario.

Of course, like most writers, I often sit and ponder over 48 hour days; the desire/wish for more time in order to be able to accomplish that much more writing. Great fantasy, that. So many ideas, so little time with which to accomodate them all. We pick one at a time, and we run with it.

Or perhaps, us horror writers should say 'we run from it'; that thing that snakes through rain water, always hungry, always seeking on the heels of those who lie awake at night, listening for it.

It is the rainy season out there; a time of late winter darkness. Listen to the rain. Listen carefully. Sleep well.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Got my Contributor's copy of FEAR OF THE DARK

It arrived in today's mail; the horror anthology 'Fear of the Dark' which I'd mentioned in an earlier post. It looks wonderful; excellent production values, great cover art - I can't wait to sit down and start reading the other stories.
I love snail mail when I get packages like this delivered. And given it's going to be a cold, snowy evening, what better way to spend it than to light the fire, pour a glass of red wine, snuggle into the sofa with a fleece blanket and said book in hand. 


FEAR OF THE DARK can be ordered through http://www.horrorbound.com/

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gems at the Library

I popped into the library again today, to return two books, renew another, and look for additional reading material. The library keeps a 'books for sale' selection with everything from fiction to non-fiction. I can't walk past this spot without stopping for a minute or two to peruse the titles for sale, most of which go for between twenty-five cents to four dollars.

Today I found a great little book about Sable Island, the mysterious and unique, constantly evolving sandbar located far out in the Atlantic, and inhabited by only a few humans and many wild horses: all of this for the grand sum of a quarter. Yes, I'm as pleased as a cat waking up in a bird sanctuary over this little gem.

Popped over to my favorite coffeehouse in town, 'The Socialist Pig Coffeehouse' and had myself a wonderful bowl of hot carrot with ginger soup and crusty bread on the side; this was topped off with an exquisite tea latte with bergamot called 'River Fog'. Add a background of wonderful folk or jazz, board games, a wide selection of newspapers and periodicals, artisan cheese or cured meat boards with wonderful jellies and chutneys. Bring a good book into a cozy corner of a place like this and you have an excellent day awaiting you.

Can life get any better than that? Nah! See 'Google' photo and info below (courtesy of http://www.gananoque.com/ and http://www.google.ca/) of my most favorite coffeehouse! If you're ever in Gan, you must check this place out for excellent food, drink, and atmosphere!