My brain has decided… [writing]

WritingI don’t seem to be doing so well with the blogging; I suspect it’s because I’m too busy actually writing. Which is a good thing. Since my last missive (announcing a self-published short story, “The Body in Motion”), I completed three short stories–one of which (“Sweetheart, the Dream is Not Ended”) has already been accepted to an anthology, Fairly Wicked Tales, set to come out in late September or early October from Angelic Knight Press.

I’m also working on placing the other two, along with the one older work I’d really like to see land somewhere. Tunnel vision tends to overtake me once a work has left my hands… once I’m off to the next project, it can be hard for me to come back, dust off a piece, and send it someplace else. I’ve not always been the best for keeping at the slushpile shuffle, but of late I’ve gotten better at it.

Back when I was laying out my goals for the year, I tossed off the idea of writing four shorts. I’ve already got three done, and I know what the fourth one will be, which should mean I’m back to working on reworking The Morpheist, or plowing ahead on the first draft of This Island Monstrous, right?

Ha ha. Right.

My brain has decided that nothing would be so fine as to write an urban fantasy novella set in the world I created for one of the aforementioned short stories. I’d barely scratched the surface of all the ideas I’d had when writing that story, but they wouldn’t go and sit back down, so, out they come. No title yet, but I’m determined to get it out and on its way by summer’s end.

It’s also the first project I’ve started using the Scrivener writing program, which I downloaded from Amazon about a month ago when it was half-off its already reasonable $40 price. So far I’m really loving it. Instead of just starting at chapter one and seeing what came out of me, I’m using its corkboard setup to write up some character profiles. It started as just a way to consolidate what I already determined in the short story, but it’s blossomed into sort of an org chart of characters from that story, plus characters who’ll be appearing in that story, characters they know, and so on. I didn’t take this approach with This Island Monstrous, which may be why it foundered.

All this means, of course, that my other goals for this year are up in the air. I may or may not return to The Morpheist this year, but I’m definitely going to return to This Island Monstrous, this time with Scrivener to help me keep track of things. Plus one more short story to write, and a couple older short works to self-publish.

And then… light refreshments will be served.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Photo: Andres/Bigstock.com.

The Body in Motion (a science fiction horror short story) [e-stories | writing]

The Body in Motion

On an apocalyptic future Earth, the remains of humanity engage in endless virtual reality battles to determine who will get food–and who will become food. One of these remnants, Vel, attracts the attention of All, the A.I. that manages the battles. Reeling from the death of his lover, Vel is drawn into her plans for fulfilling her ancient directive to save humanity… plans he may not survive.

I originally wrote The Body in Motion in 1999, and it was a departure from the science fiction I’d attempted to write at that point. I’d recently read Harlan Ellison’s short fiction collection Deathbird Stories and was in a mood to write something that really pushed my boundaries and skills of the time. It came out of my fingers quick and hot, the way stories for me all too rarely do, and ended up being my third story sale, appearing in Outer Darkness‘s spring 2001 issue.

I put the story through a vigorous re-editing, mainly to improve the prose by curbing my then-tendency to use sentence fragments to excess. And now, it’s the second short story I’ve self-published (the first being Something You Should Know early in 2012). It still stands up, I think, but if your tastes run to horror and science fiction and you’re inclined to take a look, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Here’s an excerpt of the start of the story:

Vel watched through the translucent leaves of the meat-pod, hoping and fearing a glimpse. She had once passed close, but had not stopped to take him. He had known her at once–unlike the others, she was identical to her image in Eden, with decay-green skin, glowing eyes, fanged teeth, and meat to spare on her bones. Small bones were tangled in her wild black hair, and Vel could never escape the thought that one day, one of his would be among them.

He had been unable tell her destination. Possibly she hunted her Bond, or sought to elude a pursuer by taking an unused pod for a new residence. The sloping ground in this sliver of the World was spattered with clumps of them, some waiting with hungry leaves down, others containing moldering remains, a few sustaining life. The miasma caught the scant light provided by the machines far above.

A furtive creature with wide eyes and a skeletal torso skittered into view. The human’s nostrils flared, and Vel realized it was tracking a life. It glistened with desperation. He considered his own body, starved despite the pod’s nutrient-feed, and wondered if he would behave in this way if he once more won a day of Downtime.

His heart did not pound; his blood did not race. The pod regulated his spindly body, keeping him just alive and just sane, giving him air and water while removing his wastes and toxins with uncaring efficiency. He could not break free, though he well knew the leaves could be ripped open from the outside.

The human moved on, disappearing in the tangle of pods beyond the periphery of his sight. Minutes were left in the Downtime, scant time before his day of fear would end. He thought of Lana, and how her flesh would be his if he won the next combat and she did not. He contemplated the reverse. She was somewhere near, perhaps only a pod or two distant. Their dance was almost–

The green-skinned woman appeared again, scarlet distorting her face and chest, her body the sated predator. She stopped before his pod, sixty meters away, visible between two dead-bearing pods, and tilted her head. He was prevented from panicking. Only minutes to go.

(continued…)

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. The Body in Motion cover art: feoris/Bigstock.com.

Never insert anything in your ear larger than a pirate [writing]

WritingSome times you plan blogging hiatuses, and sometimes blogging hiatuses just happen. The hiatus of the past couple months has been the latter, though not for any dramatic, pathos-ridden, Lifetime-Channel-Movie-in-the-making reason. I just got busy, and lazy, took a vacation, and got socked with something that was more than a cold but wasn’t quite the flu.

Also, I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve got one short story sub nearly ready to submit, and another short story sub to get pounding on once I’ve submitted that. I wrote a completely different short story before all that that I have to figure out someplace to send. I picked up an invite to write for another anthology and am letting ideas tumble about in my head for that. Plus, I’m going to be publishing a science fiction horror short story, The Body in Motion, within the week–and I’m planning on self-publishing three more stories before the year’s out.

So, yeah, busy.

Thus far, 2013 for me has been dominated by short fiction, but I will swing back around to the longer stuff. I’ve got to get The Morpheist revised and polished, and I really want to get back to writing more of my next novel, This Island Monstrous. I don’t think I’ll be starting the first draft of The Fabulist (the sequel to The Morpheist) this year, but other than that, the plans I came up with back in January are still on track. So far, I’ve been able to keep up the focus and discipline, two things I let go slack somewhat in 2012. As long as I can keep it up, ’13 should be a good year for me.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Picture: Andres/Bigstock.com.

Links are linkin’, pants are pantin’ [links]

LinksThe good news is that I’m working on first drafts of not one but two dark fantasy short stories, with the aim of shuffling them off to a couple different anthologies for their editors’ consideration sometime in late February. It’s been a good time since I’ve written at this fast a clip, and it feels pretty damn good.

The other good news is that I’m fixin’ to self-pub one of my older short stories, The Body in Motion, sometime in March. It’s a far far faaaar future science fiction horror story that mixes virtual reality, cannibalism, and creative problem-solving. Good times! It’ll be available on Kindle and from Smashwords initially, and later on for Nook, iTunes, and so on, all for 99 cents.

The bad news is that because of all this busy-ness, I’m fobbing this links post off on you, instead of more considered content. (Yeah, it’s also true we’re living in a world ruled (in both the public and private spheres) by short-sighted, malicious, and moronic meatbags hellbent on grabbing those final tiny bits of power and money they aren’t already squatting over, whilst plotting how to escape the now-inevitable financial, social, and environmental collapse they’ve engineered by using our starvation-plagued bodies as rocket fuel to take them to their secret underground compounds on the moon. But that’s not news anymore, is it?)

Someday, I’m going to have to get one of those new-fangled 3D printers. It turns out you can now print your own life-size robot for under $1,000. Or you can (someday) print yourself a new kidney.

Here’s Charlie Jane Anders with advice on how to write fiction for money without selling out too much. I’m filing this one away for when I find someone’s who’s buying.

Author Chuck Wendig serves up 25 hard truths about writing and publishing. Hard, terrible, monkey-laden, and recommended reading.

There’s a geneticist out there who claims to have sequenced Bigfoot’s DNA. Can’t wait to see what the sterling skeptical minds at the History Channel make of it!

Meanwhile, back in the land where real science kicks the awesome, scientists have developed a Star Trek-like tractor beam. For microscopic objects, mind, but still kickin’ the microscopic awesome.

Finally, here’s a video of Gary Busey explaining things about Hobbits. I… have to go lie down now.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Picture: 3poD/Bigstock.com.

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: Human No Longer (Backstory) [guest blog]

Kathryn Meyer GriffithHuman No Longer Backstory
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Amazon Kindle buy link

Human No Longer. It’s my 17th published book — yeah! — and my fourth vampire novel. First, let me tell you where I got the idea for it. About five years ago, I was still trying to please the agent (who I no longer have) who’d sold four of my earlier paperback novels to Zebra in the 1990’s and, because she didn’t seem to like any of my new potential concepts, I asked her what she would like to see. Out of nowhere, she said, “You know your 1991 Zebra vampire novel, Vampire Blood? I liked that one a lot. The characters. Well, how about writing me a sort of sequel with basically the same cast, but with this premise: A woman, a mother, after being turned into a bloodthirsty vampire, must learn to adapt to the human world and still be a good mother. You know, how would she deal with everything when she had children she loved; didn’t want to hurt or leave them… but still had the need to feed on blood? Still had all the urges and desires of a vampire?

Yikes. I hated the idea but, to please her, I went ahead and begrudgingly wrote the book. I tentatively called it The Vampire’s Children or The Vampire Mother or something like that. I finished it. Not too happy with it. I had never liked writing what other people wanted me to write. Stubborn, I guess.

My agent, in the meantime, had begun her own online erotic (which I don’t much care to write) publishing company and when I’d gotten done with the novel she was too busy to even read the finished book. She handed it off to an apprentice intern. An intern? What? Who didn’t like it at all. Duh. So, disgusted, I tucked the file away on my computer and, fed up with the whole agent thing, returned to writing what I wanted to write. An end of days novel called A Time of Demons and a new vampire novel where the evil vampire wasn’t a mother. In 2010 I went with a new publisher, and she contracted not only those two books but asked me if I’d like to rewrite, update and rerelease all 7 of my older out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks going back to 1984. Heck yes, I said! So for the next 2 years I was busy doing that. Some of those books were over twenty-five years old and very outdated. Their rewriting, editing and rereleasing took a lot of work and time.

Human No LongerThen, in late 2012, I decided to take a very old book of mine (Predator) which was contracted to Zebra Paperbacks in 1993 but, in the end, never actually released, and just for the heck of it, as my 16th novel, self-publish it to Amazon Kindle Direct. Just in ebook form. A kind of grand experiment. The first time I’ve ever tried self-publishing. See how it’d sell. Dinosaur Lake. A story about a hungry mutant dinosaur loose in the waters of Crater Lake that goes on a rampage. Hey, I wrote Dinosaur Lake before Jurassic Park, the book, ever came out! Really. I had my cover artist, Dawne Dominique make a cover for it…and it was stunning with a dinosaur roaring on the front. And I did everything else myself. Editing. Proofing. Formatting. With forty years and endless publishers behind me I felt I was capable. And it’d been selling so well I decided to self-publish another one…and I remembered the mother/vampire book. Hmmm. So I revamped (ha, ha, inside joke), polished, and self-published it, as well. I retitled it Human No Longer. Got my fabulous cover artist, Dawne Dominique, to make me a lovely haunting cover with a troubled-looking woman standing outside a spooky house, with two children behind her in its shadows, on the front and voila! All in all, I don’t think the book turned out half bad. In fact, with the changes I made I think it’s not bad at all. Now I just hope my readers will like it.

So that’s the story of Human No Longer. My 17th published novel.

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About Kathryn Meyer Griffith…

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had seventeen (ten romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, and Amazon Kindle Direct.

I’ve been married to Russell for almost thirty-five years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

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My books: Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction), Dinosaur Lake, 4 Spooky Short Stories, Telling Tales of Terror (I did the chapter on the Putting the Occult into your Fiction), Human No Longer.

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith

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Find Kathryn Meyer Griffith on the web:
MySpace (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
Bebo
Facebook
AuthorsDen
Goodreads
JacketFlap
ShoutLife
Romance Reader and Writer
Romance Book Junction

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Blurb:

Jenny and Jeff Sanders on a summer night become the victims of a bizarre crime, leaving Jeff dead and Jenny in a coma. Their attackers aren’t caught.

She returns to her children and her life. With Jeff’s death his business and their income are also gone. Jenny, a novelist, hasn’t written a book in years, so she must move back to her childhood home in Summer Haven, Florida, where years before she and Jeff destroyed a sadistic family of vampires.

At least her brother, Joey, who owns a local diner, is there to help.

But Jenny has no appetite. She’s edgy. Her eyes hurt. Could be trauma from the attack. Grief. Until one night, after they’ve moved into the rundown family farmhouse, she can’t resist the night woods and going out to drink animals’ blood.

Gradually she accepts the truth. Her attackers were vampires. Now she’s becoming what she once hunted and fears she must either kill herself or run. She can’t abandon her children, but promises never to drink human blood; to find a way to live in the human world. It’s not easy. They renovate the farmhouse, which local gossip says is haunted. At night she hunts, and hides what she’s becoming from everyone. She fights to be a good mother and not let the bloodlust overpower her. Gets a job and attempts to fit in.

People, bodies emptied of blood, begin dying. Like years before. With her blackouts, she fears she may be the killer and confides in Joey. While a detective, investigating her husband’s and his daughter’s murders, complicates things.

Jenny suspects it’s her attackers doing the slayings. They’ve found her and demand she join them–or her family will die. When she resists, her children are taken; to save them, she becomes part of the vampires’ killing spree. Becoming a monster like them…until she finds a way to outwit and ultimately destroy them.

In the end it takes supernatural intervention, a ghost, and the help of a childhood friend to set her, and the world, free from the vampires once and for all.

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Excerpt:

Shutting her eyes, she lingered at the door and listened to the night animals beyond the glass. They were frolicking out there in the autumn murkiness among the crispy leaves and cool dirt covered ground. Little creatures, with nocturne eyes and speedy feet, full of hot blood.

The mother in her fretted over leaving her children alone in the house but the hunger overpowered the mother and she snuck outside into the darkness.

She told herself they’d be fine. She’d be back shortly. That she should reward herself for her self-restraint all day. She hadn’t attacked one living person. Hadn’t gone crazy or hung from the rafters by her feet. She’d done well.

She told herself that killing innocent little animals wasn’t all that creepy, wasn’t all that bad, considering the alternative. It didn’t work. She loved animals and hated having to kill them at all for any reason. Or had. But, she had to keep reminding herself, animals died every minute of the day to fill humans’ stomachs. Right? Was what she did any worse than that? All she wanted was their blood. It was her food.

She felt guilty only until she captured the large fox, humanely snapped its neck to drink the blood (which tasted better than anything she’d ever drank or eaten) and then was too exhilarated to think of anything but further feeding her hunger; not even that she could run faster than she ever had, could see like an owl through the darkness, smell her prey miles away and that her teeth were changing. When she stuck her finger into her mouth she could feel the points. Oh, great. Little fangs. Oh, Lord, could this get any weirder? She thought about those horror movies she’d seen over the years where some unlucky human had been bitten and was slowly turning into god-knows-what and couldn’t believe or accept it. Was in shock. Now she knew exactly how they’d felt.

Though, in the end, she did feel regret for killing the poor fox and the one the night before. But, yes, it was better than feeding off homo sapiens. Damn straight it was.

After ingesting the blood she felt as if there was nothing she couldn’t deal with. No problem she couldn’t solve, no disaster she couldn’t avert. She was superwoman.

This wasn’t so bad, was it? It’d occurred to her perhaps if a good person became a vampire that might be the key. Good person equals good vampire? Bad person equals bad vampire? She could only pray that was the case. Oh, it could be worse. She could lust after human blood and not be able to resist. Now that would be a deal breaker.

She absorbed the night poised beside a towering tree, its limbs shifting in the wind; inhaled the dizzying perfumes of the forest. Her lips on the verge of smiling. She felt better than she had since she’d come out of the coma weeks ago.

Her new world revolved around her in slow motion. The night birds cooed in their nests. The air danced among the dying leaves. Insects skittered between limbs and under bushes. On the breeze there were aromatic wisps of brewing coffee and chocolate (cake she thought), fresh baking bread and as always now, blood. Animal blood in the small bustling creatures hiding out all around her and in the distance the cloying scent of human blood. Her children asleep in their beds. Amazing.

God, the night was beautiful.

That’s when she saw the pale figure hiding between the trees to her left. A tall man dressed in drab clothes watched her.

She merged deeper into the woods among the thicker underbrush but when she looked back, he was still on the fringe observing.

Waves of uneasiness rippled through her and the vertigo was unbalancing. This man stalking her wasn’t her friend. This man was dangerous. If he was a man.

She ran all the way home at a speed she never would have imagined a human capable of. More like flying really. Her feet barely touched the ground, her night eyes so keen she never once collided with a tree or stumbled over a rock.

Within seconds she was inside the farmhouse peeking out the windows; the mysterious stranger nowhere in sight. Thank God.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Human No Longer cover art: Dawne Dominique.

Into 2013, with Coffee, Determination, and Machete-Wielding Howler Monkeys [writing]

Writing2012 started off as a good year for me, writing-wise, and then sort of fell apart as it went on. While continuing to promote my debut novel, Brutal Light, I finished the first draft of biopunk novella The Morpheist, wrote a weird short story that got accepted into Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous, and started in on the first draft of mad science novel This Island Monstrous. And then, somewhere in the belly of summer, life events outside of writing barged in, and didn’t so much unbarge as slowly seep back into the shadows. My fall and winter writing ended up being short bursts of activity between large swatches of unfocused meh-ness and my growing, news-driven desire to dig a hole, jump in it, and pull it in after me.

But the good thing about a new year is that it gives me a chance to reset my head. I’ve been taking a look at what I’ve got going, what I’d like to do, and what I think I can realistically do in the upcoming year, and it basically looks like this:

* Wander through park, looking for that damn squirrel.

* Blow up moon.

* Telepathically control a pack of howler monkeys, arm them with machetes and rum, and–

Wups. Wrong list! Let’s try this:

* Redraft, polish, and send The Morpheist out into the world. This was last fall’s goal, if you’ll recall. This time I mean it.

* Write, redraft, polish, and send out four or five short stories. I’m already working on an urban fantasy one, though I’m taking no bets on what the others will be. I only have one short work right now that I’m pushing around to different places, and would like to have more.

* Finish the first draft of This Island Monstrous. I’ve got a good first quarter done, I just need to get cracking on the rest… and figure out how it’s all going to end.

* Write the first draft of biopunk novella The Fabulist, wherein one of the supporting characters in The Morpheist takes over as the main protagonist.

That’s about it. I’ll likely scale back blogging to once every two weeks, at least for the first half of the year, just to give me more focus-on-words-on-page-dammitall time. I may write all my blog entries with bullet points from here on out. I may take a stab at gathering up all the short fiction I’ve had published so far into a collection for self-publication. I may see how the howler monkeys do with a few quarts of bourbon and a word processor.

So. Yay? Yay.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Photo: Andres/Bigstock.com.