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Friday, March 16, 2018

Good News and Bad News

It's been a few weeks, and I have good news a bad news. I also have a LOT of personal strife going on which I will not get into here.

Anyway, the good news is that one of my stories was published recently. This was "An Unlucky Day" and I'll post the link in a minute. I first wrote the story in a Creative Writing class as an undergraduate in the 1990s. I always liked the story, and it was one of the first items I ever sent to a literary journal. Although it was rejected, even in its first submission, I was given encouragement to the send the publication more of my work. I sent it out about another half dozen times to various publications, and never heard a peep until it sold in February.

I also changed the ending about five hundred times. Ok, it was probably more like 5, but it felt like a lot more. The trouble was part of the assignment was NOT to write an ending, something I was unsure of at first, but the professor explained that it was because students often concentrate too much on the endings of their stories. It did help me concentrate more on developing the characters and the story itself, which is why I believe he wanted us to do it that way. But then I graduated, and if that story was ever going to be published, it needed an ending. I was trying to come up with a more literary ending, but it was a bit of a dark comedy. Finally, I decided to just give it the ending people would expect out of it, and finally it sold.

So without further ado, here's "An Unlucky Day" at Page and Spine.

Then there's the bad news: I did not get into the graduate school PhD in English program I wanted. :-(

Such is life I suppose. I'm not exactly sure why I was not accepted because I only received a form letter. I have two theories though. One is because I don't have any research credits (although I do have a few fiction credits). But then the question becomes, how do you get research credits outside of a PhD program, and how do you get into a PhD program without research credits. My other theory is that academia is beginning to think I'm too old. I hope it was the former and not the latter. Tata for now.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Publishing and Grad School

It's been an up and down week for me. It started off great as I sold another short story this week (Yippie!). Two short stories in two weeks is nothing even close to anything I ever experienced before. Both were stories I wrote in a creative writing class I took as an undergrad. I will again provide more details about where and when my work can be found as the time grows closer (should be some time toward the end of March).

I also received a rejection e-mail (my knee-jerk reaction is to still call them "letters") for one of the stories I sold, and another one earlier this week for several poems I submitted. Then I woke up this morning to an e-mail informing me one of the publications where my work will be published will be presented (although my specific work will not be presented) at a conference in April.

Meanwhile, I had been playing telephone tag with a head of the English Ph.D. program where I had applied. This was not specifically to inform her of these two recent publications, but I figured as long as I have her one the line, I might try to mention this fact. I finally caught this lady on the phone today. We had a decent talk and I asked a few of my other questions I had about touring the campus and discussing the program with others there. I mentioned the two publishing successes I recently received (which were not included in my curriculum vitae because they occurred after it was submitted), and she was quite unimpressed. She kept saying she didn't want to read them, even though I made no indication I wanted her to read them, just to acknowledge I two new publications not present on CV. The only thing I thought she might be interested in seeing were the acceptance e-mails to prove I was telling the truth.

I've had a similar experience when I joined the Horror Writers Association in reverse. In this case, I was trying to show that I have experience with research and teaching in writing and was wondering if I could qualify under the scholarly membership.

My question is why is there such as growing gap between the production of research and creative fiction? If one can produce literary fiction, one would think that in itself would count (even tenuously) as research in the field. If I can research horror one would think that would (again, perhaps tenuously) count as some of production in the genre.

Anyway, this was not intended as a rant or a vent or even a criticism of either field, just trying get someone out there to think about things. Anyway, in the meantime, here's a jack-o-lantern I made this past Halloween.

Friday, February 16, 2018

I FINALLY Sold a Short Story!

Yay! It has been a long time since I sold anything, seven years to be exact. But now the drought has ended. I should also point out that I have not been submitting very many short stories or poems during much of that seven years (although I have submitted a few items). Much of that time has been spent submitting my current novel, The Sorcerer, rewriting it, sending it out some more, and working on two other rough drafts of novels.

Then I finally got a hair up my ass. I looked at my spreadsheet of all the things I've ever submitted for publication, my novel, short stories, and poems. I decided to try a tactic that I'd used before to get my work published, and sent everything I have out to one publication or another. Everything! When I stopped and looked at everything I had, I remembered a few pieced I had retired a few years ago. I realized that one piece had only been sent out once since I rewrote it. So I thought, what the hell, let's go ahead and send that one out, too.

I never really liked that rewrite. It was originally a story I wrote 20 years ago for my Creative Writing class for my undergraduate degree. The assignment was to include a song I really liked. After I graduated, I tried getting some of my works published, but I already knew what the problem would be with this one piece. It included a song that was copywritten material. No one would ever publish it due to the legalities. So I eventually got around to rewriting it and taking out the copywritten song and replaced it with a generic "Irish drinking song," as I describe it in the short story.

But I thought it would never work. The piece was so much better with the copywritten song. So I only sent it out once in that form, and it was quickly rejected. I left it alone and forgot about it. Life got in the way and when I had time to write I concentrated on writing other things. Then as noted above, I decided to send out everything I have, and sometimes to multiple publications, and finally, this past Wednesday, I received an e-mail accepting my short story for publication. When I receive more information I will reveal the publication and issue the piece will appear.

I've often heard that the artist is often unaware of what their best work is, but I'd never experienced it myself. I guess this is my first time with that story to add to my repertoire. For now, here's a picture of a Shamrock Shake, which should be returning soon, because my story included an Irish drinking song, and for a little more luck.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Please, Reject Me.

It seems like an odd thing to ask for rejection, but that's exactly what I'm about to do. Like anything else, the writing and publishing world is changing. One of the ways that it is changing is that many publications now allow simultaneous submissions. That means I can now submit my story to more than one publication at a time, and that is a good thing. I can cover more ground in much quicker time. However, the reason this rule changed for many (but still not nearly all) publications, is because very few writers were actually listening to this rule request in the first place. So many of the publications simply gave up trying, figuring most (although likely not all) writers were simply not listening to it (although I always did).

So now we are allowed to submit our work to as many publications as allow simultaneous submissions. But in the olden times we writers also received rejection letters. We were supposed to submit to one publication at a time, and after a few weeks or months we received a rejection letter in the mail (provided we remembered to include a self addressed stamped envelope). Very often, they were simply form rejection letters, but it was still some notification that your work was not wanted. But as time went on, fewer and fewer publications were sending out rejection letters, to a point where it seemed like almost no one was sending them out anymore. So allowing simultaneous submissions became virtually essential to anyone who wished to be published. How am I supposed to know my work was free to send to another publication if no one ever bothered to send me a rejection letter?

Now there are still a few publications left that request an exclusive look at your work. "No simultaneous submissions" it will read somewhere on their submission guidelines. Fair enough. But here is my point of writing this blog on this subject this week. If you request an exclusive look at my work, you had damn well better send me a rejection letter letting me you are not interested in it, so I know when it is time to peddle my wares elsewhere.

Recently, when I checked a website where I submitted my work, and this particular website requested no simultaneous submissions, the website stated they made all of their editorial decisions and already chose the work they wanted. And I never received anything one way or the other. Yes, publishers, there really are some writers who listen to your requests, and follow them to the letter. If you allow simultaneous submissions and don't send out rejection letters, I have no beef with you. But, if you request an exclusive look at someone's work, you should at least have the courtesy of sending out rejection letters to people who didn't make the cut. This doesn't strike me as an unreasonable request. Rant over.

Friday, January 19, 2018

CC's Top 100 Classic Horror Movies

I’ve created my list of the top 100 Classic Horror movies of all time. “Classic” is here defined as being released in or before 1976. Feel free to criticize it, deconstruct it, or if you feel appropriate, praise it. What movies did I miss? What did I rate too high? Or too low? What did I get just right? Anyway, here’s my list, and if you have enough gumption, feel free to post your own top 100list or top 10, or whatever, just have fun with it.

1. King Kong (33)

2. Psycho

3. Bride of Frankenstein

4. Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (20)

5. Jaws

6. Witchfinder General / The Conqeror Worm

7. Dracula (31)

8. Pit and the Pendulum

9. Frankenstein (31)

10. Night of the Living Dead

11. The Invisible Man

12. Phantom of the Opera (25)

13. The Exorcist

14. The Mummy (32)

15. The Thing From Another World

16. The Old Dark House

17. Masque of the Red Death

18. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

19. Black Sunday

20. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

21. Horror of Dracula

22. Freaks

23. Blacula

24. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

25.The Black Cat (34)

26. White Zombie

27. A Clockwork Orange

28. Bedlam

29. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (39)

30. The Wolf Man

31. Rebecca

32. Nosferatu (22)

33. Theatre of Blood

34. Cape Fear (62)

35. Sweeny Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

36. The Body Snatcher

37. Mad Love

38. The Curse of Frankenstein

39. Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde (31)

40. House of Wax

41. House on Haunted Hill

42. Creature from the Black Lagoon

43. Phantom of the Opera (62)

44. The Unholy Three (30)

45. Gojira / Godzilla, King of the Monsters

46. Vertigo

47. Deep Red

48. I Was a Teenage Werewolf

49. The H-Man

50. The Raven (35)

51. Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde (41)

52. Little Shop of Horrors (60)

53. The Lost World (20)

54. The Blob

55. Castle of Blood

56. The Beast of 20,000 Fathoms

57. The Giant Gila Monster

58. Curse of the Werewolf

59. The Abominable Dr. Phibes

60. Dead Men Walk

61. The Birds

62. Mystery of the Wax Museum

63. The Last Man on Earth

64. Island of Lost Souls

65. The Monster (25)

66. Doctor X

67. Them!

68. The Raven (63)

69. The Cat People

70. Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror

71. Destroy All Monsters

72. The Mad Monster

73. Die! Monster, Die!

74. Murders in the Rue Morgue (32)

75. The Black Room

76. Werewolf of London

77. The Flesh Eaters

78. Plan 9 From Outer Space

79. Black Friday

80. The Haunted Palace

81. Hunchback of Notre Dame (22)

82. Rodan

83. Two Thousand Maniacs

84. Frenzy

85. Nightmare Castle

86. The Beast with 5 Fingers

87. The She Beast

88. King Kong Vs. Godzilla

89. The Killer Shrews

90. The Ape Man

91. Dr. Phibes Rises Again

92. Tower of London (63)

93. Hunchback of the Morgue

94. Don’t Look in the Basement

95. Revenge of Frankenstein

96. Black Sabbath

97. House of Dracula

98. Dracula, Prince of Darkness

99. The Leopard Man

100. The Mad Magician

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I am a Monster Kid, and What That Means

I grew up a monster kid. I'm not exactly sure what that even means, but it's a label being used a lot these days. There is even a quick guide to help determine if you, too are a monster kid on this blog.

To the best of my knowledge it simply means I loved monsters when I was a little kid growing up. According to many articles, I'm in good company. There is an entire magazine dedicated to monster kids. According to one source, the term was not coined until 1995 by someone on the internet. Forrest J. Ackerman can certainly count himself as one of the original monster kids. In modern times, Guillermo del Toro can certainly count himself as a monster kid. Certainly, Author Ray Bradbury, and Moviemaker Ray Harryhausen are counted as other famous monster kids.

To my understanding, a monster kid is simply anyone who grew up watching and loving monster movies. One of my earliest memories of my love for monster movies was when the 1976 version of King Kong was first released on television in a two night event, and my grandfather encouraged me to sit with him and watch it when he was babysitting me. I was immediately hooked on King Kong.

It's sometimes funny how one small event in your childhood can have such a large role in developing who you become later in life. It makes one wonder if, for instance, I would have grown an interest in monster movies anyway, or if this event was the cause of it all.

Anyway, after that, I was in the library with my mother one day when I found the Ian Thorne Monsters series of books on Kong, Godzilla, Frankenstein, Dracula, and all the rest of the great monsters. I read them all several times. Every time I went to the library, either public or at school, I would check out one of these books, or another one similar on monster movies, how to make them, the actors who played in them, or anything else on the topic. Then one day in the third grade, I found the novelization of King Kong by Delos Lovelace, and it became the first real book I read.

Like most monster kids, I then found a hosted horror movie show in my area. It was The Late Great Horror Show on WJET-TV channel 24 in Erie, Pa. Here I finally found some of the most famous horror monsters such as The Mummy's Curse, Frankenstein, and what became my favorite, Godzilla!

A few years later, we got cable. This opened up a whole new world of television to my developing young mind. Included in that world was certainly the world of monsters, particularly those on WWOR channel 9 in New York on Thanksgiving Day and the Friday afterward. But I could still never catch the 1933 version of King Kong, nor could I catch another favorite of mine, King Kong vs. Godzilla. Then one night, King Kong vs. Godzilla was scheduled to come on the other cable channel 9, WGN in Chicago. I snuck up, and watched it in the middle of the night. Finally, a brand new cable channel came out called American Movie Classics, and they aired the original Kong and Son of Kong.

At the beginning of each week, I used to (and still do quite often, actually) check the television schedule to see what monster movies were coming on that week. Then my whole week was scheduled around the movies that would air. This was just before my family got a VCR. When we did, Godzilla, King of the Monsters on another hosted horror movie show, Super Scary Saturday on WTBS, hosted by Grandpa Munster, was one of the first thing I recorded, and King Kong on AMC (back when American Movie Classics actually showed classic American movies) was soon after.

Fast forward a few more years, and I was in my early twenties. I had rediscovered a lot of those famous monster movies, such as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, and all the other Universal horror monster movies.
But by this time I was looking for something a little bit more. I wanted to discover the original stories that these movies came from. One day I borrowed The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and read it in one day. This made me thirsty for the other original horror and sci-fi monster stories. I got a copy of Dracula by Bram Stoker, and this became my all time favorite novel, and shortly after Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. At this point I was hooked for life. There's no turning back now.

As an adult, I now have become a collector of action figures, which are pictured throughout this article. I'm sure there are many other Monster Kids out there. I hope this lends a little light on what that means.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Why writers need to make New Year's Resolutions

It is a new year, and time to make those promises to yourself that (hopefully) you will keep the whole year through. It is very rare that I make New Year's resolutions because I want to be sure to keep them. The ones I have made and been able to keep include no longer flipping off other drivers in the car, and that one still gives me trouble from time to time.

But as writers, we all have an obligation to make that same resolution year after year, even if we are sure it will not be kept. But hopefully we will keep those resolutions. You know, the ones like, lose weight, exercise more, stop drinking (yeah right), save money, and as writers we all have to make the resolution to write more. Therefore, everyone raise your right hand and repeat after me:

"I promise to watch only the Ren and Stimpy Show, to make underleg noises during the good scenes, to wear unwashed lederhosen every single day, for the rest of my life."

No wait, that's the wrong resolution. Here is the correct one:

"I promise to write more this year and be distracted less, to finish my major projects, and to submit my work until I become a published writer."

Give it a try, and hopefully you'll be as successful as I am. No wait, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. Well, you know what I mean.