the long way ’round again, again [it burns! it burns!, writing]

WritingLook, I didn’t mean to be gone for so long. I took a wrong turn on the expressway, and next thing I knew, I was in Tijuana, herding llamas and putting worms in those little bottles. You know how it is. I only just now got back.

Well, ok, maybe not. Maybe I just took an ill-advised two-and-a-half-year detour into buying, owning, and then ultimately selling a house someplace I shouldn’t have considered in the first place. Maybe I made a few starts at writing during that time, but couldn’t keep it going because of the constant distractions and pressure. Maybe there were llamas, but they were herding me.

Whatever the case, all those maybes are in the past. I’m in a new place, the lessons are learned, the pressures are lessened, the llamas are on their way to Hollywood, and I’ve carved out a regular block of time when I can just write (or edit, or blog, or whatever). I’m finally back to writing.

I’ve revamped the blog, and this site–added a new picture of my meaty mug, and cut down on the clutter of the sidebars. I also added a mobile theme for people viewing the site on their magic rectangles, figuring it was about time the site joined this decade.

As far as my books go… I regained the rights to my novel Brutal Light at the start of this year, and plan on self-publishing a new edition later this summer. I took down all my self-published short stories at the same time, and am planning on publishing my first collection in the spring of 2018.

Writing-wise, my top goal for the last seven months of this year is to finish my next novel, Redscale: Severance, though I’ll likely do a couple short stories in that time as well.

Finally, I do have a new short story, “The Path of Needles,” that will soon be published, in The C.A.M. Charity Anthology: Horror & Science Fiction #1 in a couple days. I’ll ramble on about that in another entry.

It’s good to be back! Watch out for llamas!

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthologies Fairly Wicked Tales and The C.A.M. Charity Anthology: Horror and Science Fiction #1. His blog originates here.

Long Time Gone [it burns! it burns!, writing]

PersonalLAST TIME ON GARY’S BLOG: Our hero, the looming yet strangely beguiling Writer Lad, was hip deep in writing a first draft of an urban fantasy with talking raptors and flying sharks and things like that, unaware that he was moments from being captured by Amphi-dodecahedron, the Avatar of Fish-Based Geometry, to be used as an oblique angle in his decidedly fussy war against Cartanga, Finder of Small Pebbles, whose underhanded tactics and undercooked pasta were the subject of thousands of savage Yelp reviews, all written by Professor Ivan Sharpski, ex-KGB tap dancer and girl friday to Gummo Lemmingsnort, noted New York Times Bestselling Author of “That’s Not Chicken, and Probably Not a Taco, Either” and several not-so-bestselling horror novels featuring occult detective and part-time spatula Bacon McGee, a concept derived from a 1923 article on Bootlegging Badgers and the Flappers who Love Them, as mis-transcribed by Randall Everwood, a.k.a. the Shadow Over the Breakfast Nook, aided by a ratty English-Klingon dictionary, a vole paid off by Joe Don Baker, and Dr. Leslie Ann Cartier, inventor of the least joyful whoopee cushion ever documented.

We join Gary, already in progress.

Hmmm, guess it’s been a while since I last wrote a non-repost blog-entry. See, what happened was I broke free from the chains that bound me to the black pit and roamed the moors, slaking my thirst for blood just got busy with a lot of stuff, both writing and non-writing, and something had to give. Also, an anniversary trip to Niagara Falls, some car crash and replacement car buying drama, work stress, and so on. I’ve moved on, why can’t you?

Ha! Seriously, though, you don’t want to hear my lame, lame excuses. You want to know what’s going on now. And that is… writing. I’ve got a steampunk horror story I’m trying to wrestle into shape, and another short that may or may not get written after that. Redscale is on hold until the new year. Possibly longer, if I go and rewrite/polish/finish off/ship out The Morpheist, the biopunk novella I first-drafted more than a year ago. I’m putting together another short, Fabulous Beasts, for self-publicational glory later this month. My next non-self-publication is coming in January, with a story in Angelic Knight Press’s Fairly Wicked Tales.

Plus, December is eating my head, and we’ve barely started the month. So there’s that.

Reading-wise, there’s a lot of good stuff out there that I’m gonna take this opportunity to push at you. If you’re an urban fantasy fan, you’ve gotta check out Manifesto: UF edited by Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann. It’s got twenty-three envelope-pushing urban fantasy tales by the likes of Lincoln Crisler, Jake Elliot, Teresa Frohock, and many more. If ghost stories are more your speed, check out Bryan Hall’s The Girl. It’s an evocative and compelling story heavy on atmospheric dread that I enjoyed a lot.

My friend Eric Burns-White has been putting out entries in his Mythology of the Modern World series on Amazon and Smashwords. They’re short, sharp, sometimes satirical, sometimes haunting mythological stories composed as answers to reader questions posed to him. The Sky of L.A. is Yellow/Gray is my favorite of these so far, but all of them are highly entertaining.

Another friend, Angi Shearstone, put out the second issue of her BloodDreams comic not too long ago. It’s a sharp tale of a conflict between vampires and hunters that ensnares a troubled punk rock singer and his friends, with gorgeous fully-painted artwork. Absolutely no sparkling going on, I promise. (I reviewed issue 1 a long while ago.)

Bryan Thomas Schmidt, meanwhile, has two anthologies out, both of which began life as Kickstarter projects. Beyond the Sun, which features science ficton tales of colonization of new worlds, has a number of outstanding stories (by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, and Maurice Broaddus, among others). Raygun Chronicles, an anthology of golden-age-style space opera stories, just recently came out, and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Speaking of books I’m really looking forward to reading, Emmy Jackson’s second novel, Empty Cradle: Shiloh in the Circle (set in the world of his previous novel, Empty Cradle: the Untimely Death of Corey Sanderson, which I reviewed a long time ago). The first one was damn good, and I’m expecting this one will be as well. Plus there’s Greg Chapman’s new horror novella, The Last Night in October… holy crap I have a lot of reading to catch up on!

(Note: there are a lot of Amazon links above. I’m not participating in any affiliate thing here, I promise–it’s just convenient for me to link there, to show you I didn’t just come up with these things in a caffeine-and-pork-rind-fueled fever dream. Because I know that’s what you’re thinking.)

That’s all for now. I’m signing off and heading for the tub. Don’t forget to tip your server!

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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: Elena Ray/Bigstock.com.

Maybe thaaaaaaangs will be better… in Chicago… [personal | pictures]

Chicago from Navy Pier

Last weekend Kristyn and I went to Chicago for our wedding anniversary. We had a good deal of fun, making it to a Blue Man Group performance, to the Museum of Science and Industry, and, (as you may be able to tell from the above photo), Navy Pier. I always like visiting Chicago, in spite of how pricey it sometimes seems.

This time around, we went via Amtrak–me for the first time. I understand that Amtrak pales compared to rail travel in other countries, but I rather liked it. It was maybe a little bit more expensive than driving (or less, given how much I would have been driving around during the weekend), but it was also a lot less stressful. Instead of watching the road all the time, I could plug in my phone and read or catch up on social media stuff. I didn’t get my junk scanned or fondled by the TSA, and could move about more easily than on an aircraft. (Wonder how long that’s gonna last…) I think that, whenever I need to travel within the U.S. (excluding Alaska and/or Hawaii) and I don’t have a pressing need to get there lickety split, trains are how I’m gonna go.

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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: Gary W. Olson.

Not so much a plan as a sort of lining up of things [personal | writing]

PersonalI’ve been on vacation this past week, and in fact still am. Last week involved a trip up to Torch Lake, Michigan, and my aunt and uncle’s place there. Had a great time, managed to get by with no great sunburn (unlike other years). Visited some wineries up in Leelenau County there and picked up a few bottles.

Yesterday was my birthday. The original plan was for Kristyn and I to go to Cedar Point for the day, but rainy weather reports made us postpone that (to tomorrow, in fact). So we largely spent the day amusing ourselves with mini-golf, go-karting, arcade games, pancake-house-visiting, and wine-imbibing. Not all at the same time, mind.

So, that’s been my week. Unfortunately, not a lot of it has involved writing, though I have spent a good deal of time thinking through what I’ll be working on in the coming weeks and months. I’m hesitant to call it a plan, as that involves a rather optimistic idea that no fresh shiny ideas will barge to the head of the queue and take over my fingers. Since that’s pretty much been the story of my writing so far this year, I’ve got to be realistic.

WritingBut. I think I’ve more-or-less worked out how things are going to go through the rest of the year. Starting with my Untitled Mad Science Novel. Untitled mainly because all the ideas I come up with for the title turn out, upon a quick Google search, to already have been used. Fortunately, that’s about the only thing that’s stopped at the moment, as the writing itself for it is going very well, with about 13k (of a projected 80-90k) words first-drafted. The genre, broadly, is Humorous Weird Dark Science Fantasy with a side of WTF. My goal is to finish the first quarter of the first draft by mid-September, then move on to…

The rewriting of The Morpheist. I have a very rough draft of this 29k biopunk novella, which needs to have multiple things fixed, some detail added to the description of people and places, and some adjustment to make it look like the things I came up with for my main characters during writing were intended all along. You know how it is. My goal here is to get this to a point where it’s coherent, polished, and maybe ready for a few beta readers to tear into it. Then I’ll return to UMSN and tackle the second quarter of the first draft, which should take me to the end of the year.

At the same time all this is going on, I’ve had a notion to dig deep into my past and revisit my old Nihil Nations stories, starting with Electricity in the Rain. It was my first publication, serialized in the pages of Mythic Heroes (the first four parts, anyway–the fifth never saw publication as the magazine died out from under it). It’s a dark science fiction take on the emergence of people with super abilities, and how the world reacts (closer in spirit to The 4400 than Heroes, though it predates them both by a long shot). With some heavy rewriting (my style at that time was still (cough) evolving) and new material, it could make novella size. If I decide to go ahead with this, it’ll likely be at the same time as the other two projects above.

Sometime in there as well, I hope to bash out a short story or two. Maybe some short-short flash fiction; it’s been quite a while since I attempted any, and that may be the only way anything gets done with everything else I’m trying to work on. Quite possibly something with bugs in it. I’m thinking bugs.

How’s by you?

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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. First photo: Elena Ray/Bigstock.com. Second photo: Andres/Bigstock.com.

Blog: Death, too close today [personal]

PersonalMy grandmother, Doris, passed away today, after many days in a hospice. I’d been expecting for days to hear that she’s passed; every day that went by without the news was a blessing and a sadness. A blessing because she was a wonderful person–generous, kind, and caring–and every day she was still alive was a day I did not have to mourn. A sadness because she was in pain, and her body was slowly and inexorably shutting down. After watching her cope with multiple strokes, assorted respiratory illnesses, dementia and the like, I cannot help but be a little glad that she is no longer suffering.

I received the news today against the backdrop of a national tragedy. My country is reeling with the news of the deaths of twelve people, and the injuries of numerous others, from a murderous rampage in a movie theater in Colorado. I am sad for the victims and their families, and my heartfelt sympathies go out to them. No blessings here, only sadness.

There have been other happenings–matters of life and death affecting people close to me. Thankfully, life has held sway in these instances. For this I am glad. The specter of death is hovering too close right now.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light. His blog originates here. Photo: Elena Ray/Bigstock.com.

On The Speaking in The Public

It will not come as a shock to anyone who has met me in person that I am not a natural talker. I am comfortable in silence, or at least in staying silent while the world surrounds me with its endless noise. In conversations, I typically end up following the lead of a more talkative person, quite happy to listen while occasionally commenting, asking questions, making puns, or interjecting random sympathetic noises. When it is down to me to take the lead in conversing, I’m hesitant, sometimes stuttery, and often my sentences wander off when I realize I have no idea how they’re supposed to end.

So you’d think that there are certain aspects of self-promotion that would be more difficult for me–doing interviews and participating on panels at conventions, for instance. These do, in fact, elevate my anxiety levels, and I’m usually looking forward most to the experience being over, so that I can scuttle back to my silent comfort zone. But then the weirdest thing happens — I’m doing the interview or participating on the panel, and I find I’m enjoying it. I’m chattering away–still hesitant, stuttery, and sometimes meandering–but I don’t care because I’m talking about things that I love–the strange places I find ideas, my influences, and things I’m writing.

Take the interview I did with Greg Walker on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book a couple days ago. Between a desire to be ‘on’ and sound like I actually had something to say, my usual pre-speaking anxieties, and a couple large mugs of coffee, I was dialed up toward the high end of my talking abilities. (It also helped that Greg’s a good conversationalist, keeping me going while keeping me from meandering too far afield from talking about Brutal Light. People like me are helped a lot by people like him.) We probably could have gone on for a lot longer than the half-hour of the show.

As for panels, the four I was on for ConClave helped ease my mind on the prospect of my clamming up in the presence of other writers who were better talkers who could gab at length. I was less caffeinated at these events, but was determined to put in my commentary and not be That Guy. To my surprise, I enjoyed the give-and-take, and had fun. (Though, being that they were ninety minute panels, as opposed to the usual sixty, I can’t say they would have gone on for a lot longer than the assigned time.)

The key for me in both situations was preparation. A couple of the panels–the ones on social media marketing and the future of publishing–I did some advance reading on, to give myself a better idea of what the issues and sub-issues were, and to get me thinking on things I’d only nebulously thought about before, if at all. For the interview, I went over the guest interviews and guest blogs I’d done for my virtual book tour, just to refresh myself on how I’d answered some questions and to get me in an expositional frame of mind. (One thing I added that was not in the blog tour–my relating of dark fantasy to noir films and fiction.) It’s a lot easier for me to be ‘on’ when I’m prepared to be ‘on.’

So… it turns out that The Public Speaking is not quite so vexing for me as I’d expected it to be. Of course, it still stirs anxiety, in roughly inverse proportion to the amount of time until I have to do it. But now I also feel like I’m looking forward to it as well… and that’s a good feeling.

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Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.