Whoops: A Cornell Woolrich Project

As many of you know, new speculative fiction has taken a backseat over the last year in favor of more writing training. I’ve been taking online classes through the University of California at Berkeley toward a certificate in writing.

As a few of you know, I just accidentally posted part of a project for my Mystery Fiction class to my old website. So, here is a quick explanation for those of you who were quick enough to click the link before I unpublished it. I will be using my old WordPress.com site as a backbone for my final project. I accidentally sent the first page out on all of my old promotional channels. The website is titled A Shadow in the Dark and explores the decade of work produced by hard-boiled pulp author Cornell Woolrich during the 1940’s. For those of you who are thinking “I should know that name…,” he is sort of the other guy when it comes to hard-boiled detective fiction.

Everyone knows Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but Cornell Woolrich gets forgotten. Should you know him? Absolutely, but probably from Hollywood since many of his books are out of print. Rear Window? That’s Woolrich. Original Sin? Woolrich. No Man of Her Own? Woolrich. His stories became inspiration for episodes of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Boris Karloff Mystery Playhouse, and many others.

My project will focus on Woolrich’s work during the 1940’s, which was his most prolific decade for crime writing. It will be finished by the end of the semester. At that point, I’ll be sure to drop the link on my site. Until then, I’m sorry about the early peek.

On another note, things are still happening. My story “A Dead Man’s Dirt” is slated for Volume 2 of Let Us In from Time Alone Press. It should be out in the next couple of months. I’ll keep you posted.

I start a class on developing the novel in a couple of days. I’m not sure what project I am going to work on during the class. I’ve bounced back and forth between a couple of ideas. Whatever I choose, I am sure it will be fun.

World Science Fiction Convention Schedule

HeaderImage_092015MidAmeriCon II is coming up sooner than you would think. The full programming schedule has been released on the MidAmeriCon website. You can find it HERE.

I’ll have a reading on Thursday morning at 10:30. My plan is to read “Bottoms Up” which recently appeared in 9 Tales at the World’s End and will be part of a longer novel titled The Rest of Us.

I’ll also be speaking on panels with a number of great writers. Here is my schedule:

Austen and Shelley

Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, 2504B (Kansas City Convention Center)
A look at the roots of so much science fiction and fantasy in the works of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. While Shelley’s Frankenstein is an obvious predecessor to science fiction and horror, Austen’s literature has also had a tremendous influence on modern authors.
Jack Campbell Jr., Heather Rose Jones, Mary Robinette Kowal (M), L. Rowyn, Evey Brett

The Future of Forensics

Thursday 12:00 – 13:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)
As part of “The Future of” series we look at Forensics.

Forensic scientists analyze scientific evidence in criminal investigations and as with all science the methods available grow and change and improve on a regular basis. This panel of experts discuss what is current and lead to where it might go next.
Jason Sanford, Gerard Ackerman (M), Jack Campbell Jr., Diana Rowland, Anna Yeatts

Utopia, Dystopia and the Default?

Thursday 14:00 – 15:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)
Certain kinds of imagined futures are currently dominating the SF field, to an impressive and interesting degree. For example, we usually find settings in either grand interstellar deep space futures or trapped-on-Earth dystopias with the rare exception. What about the futures that land somewhere in-between these who extremes? Is the “middle future” to reminiscent of the Golden Age of SF? Is it coming back? Is it too close to our current/probable future? Let’s discuss the “middle future” in SF, how it compares to earlier eras in SF, and where it falls on the Utopia/Dystopia spectrum.
Jack Campbell Jr. (M), Thomas K. Carpenter, Sarah Frost, Mr. Peadar O Guilin

Zen Scavenger Hunt

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, 2503B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Panelists each bring seven items. Audience members ask for a type of item, a la a standard scavenger hunt. The panelists will then have to show one of the items they’ve brought and try to convince the audience that their item is the best match for what was requested.
Gail Carriger, Jack Campbell Jr. (M), Mark Oshiro, Howard Tayler

Social Media, or, Why I Haven’t Finished My Novel

Saturday 13:00 – 14:00, 2502B – A/V (Kansas City Convention Center)
Social media is addictive. So much so it can impact upon the work of authors. Our panelists discuss the importance of limiting themselves, differentiating between Social Media interactions for personal and professional reasons, and maybe even inspiration gleaned from Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat and the myriad sites available.
Melissa F. Olson (M), Jack Campbell Jr., J.R. Johansson, John Scalzi, Mur Lafferty

A Love Letter (sort of) to Hastings

I bought my first screenwriting books (written by the legendary Syd Field) at Hastings. This began my foray in to creative writing. Prior to that, I was a visual and performance artist. The drum set and guitar sit dusty in the basement, and I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in years. My keyboard, on the other hand, is missing letters because I’ve typed so much.

I bought Zen and the Art of Writing at Hastings. Ray Bradbury’s passion for writing rubbed off on me, and I went running to the word processor to write out my dreams and fears with reckless abandon. My process is still heavily-influenced by Bradbury, even if my style has changed over the years.

I worked at Hastings for two months in college, just before moving to Lawrence. I spent almost as much as I made, thanks to an amazing discount program, and the readership program gave me a good collection of classic books that provided the base of my extra-curricular literary education. I still have copies of Great Expectations and The Count of Monte Cristo that are missing covers, the price of their liberation from the store shelves.

I spent my lunch breaks walking through the stacks at Hastings, smelling the books and trying to soak in words, as if each aisle was a pool filled with nouns, verbs, and adjectives. When I got down on writing, or felt that things were hopeless, I saw all of these books by all of these writers who found the shelves, and it brought me back to work. You can’t place a value on that, but I bought it at the price of a mocha frappaccino and the occasional book.

I had my first book signing at Hastings. I sat in the front of the store, heard my name announced over the PA, and talked to every customer that came within earshot. I was nervous, but excited. I met other writers. I sold a couple of books. Mostly, I got used to selling myself as a writer to the public.

I sold more copies of All Manner of Dark Things at my local Hastings than anywhere else other than Amazon. For six months, I rode the end cap display, until I was displaced by a number of books by politicians in order to capitalize on the primary election season. I sold several copies, including one to a Hastings employee. She asked me to sign it when I came in for one of my lunchtime strolls. It gives me a thrill to know that complete strangers in my community have my book on their shelf.

Over the last few months, I’ve seen the signs. More used and clearance books than new. Large, empty shelf spaces. Fewer employees. Earlier this week, I saw the story that I feared would be coming. Hastings will have declare bankruptcy if they do not find a buyer. Another bookstore down.

As much as I would like for someone to buy and save my local Hastings, the truth is that the model is out-dated and the products are over-priced in comparison to their online counter-parts. They can’t compete. Few can. If this is the end of Hastings, as it was for Borders before it, as it probably will be for Barnes and Noble unless they do something drastic, then I have to say thank you to them for being there.

Hastings is a chain, but they always treated me like a local business would. They contained so many things that I loved, and as a result, I was able to pursue those loves. I’ve spent thousands of dollars in their stores, and even though that wasn’t enough, their closure will leave a vacancy beyond the strip mall storefront that they occupy.

No more random CD’s or DVD’s that I never knew I wanted. No more midnight releases. No more comics. No more lunchtime book section strolls among the works of my peers and idols. No more book signings. No more hope of seeing my name in the horror section next to Ramsey Campbell, rather than in the local author section. That’s a lot of no mores.

I hope they save it, but if they don’t, then I am thankful for the memories. Hear’s to you Hastings. We’ll always have Lawrence and Ames.

ConQuest Wrap-up and $0.99 Sale

My collection, All Manner of Dark Things is still on sale for 99 cents on Kindle through Monday. You can check it out here.

ConQuest is over. I’m tired, but I had a good time. There are a lot of people that I only see at ConQuest, although with WorldCon in Kansas City, 2016 might be an exception. The panels were a lot of fun. The crowd was smaller than last year, but was no less passionate about Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. I served on several panels and had a reading. While my body and wallet are feeling the sting of a long weekend, I can’t wait for next year.

I picked up some vintage copies of Weird Tales and The Magazine of Horror. I drank and ate and talked about everything from books to fandom. It was a productive weekend.

To everyone that made ConQuest memorable, I sincerely thank you. The creative batteries have been recharged, and now it is time to get back to work. I have critiques due for my Berkeley writing class and books that need to be written.

Let’s get to it.

 

“Patchwork” in Typhon: A Monster Anthology

 

A wtyphonhile back, I took part in a story contest at LitReactor, a literary website that I frequent. The contest required us to produce an original monster and use our hometown as a setting. While my hometown area has always been a source of inspiration for me, “Patchwork” is the first story that I wrote with the geography of Clearfield in my head. That changed a bit in the re-writes leading up to the story’s inclusion in All Manner of Dark Things and the setting changed to that magical Fairfax place that lives in my head. I’ve always been proud of my patchwork monster that steals its bodyparts from its victims. The story that I wrote one afternoon in the corner booth of a busy bar has continued to be one of my favorites.

Now, you can read “Patchwork” in an anthology full of great monsters, inspired by the father of all monsters Typhon, and brought to you by Pantheon Magazine. If you are unfamiliar with Pantheon, they put out a spectacular product, and Typhon is no exception. You can pick up a copy at Amazon or Createspace.

If you use Createspace, be sure to enter coupon code CFAK5JBZ for 15% off.

 

 

“Assholes with Guns” in The Literary Hatchet #13

lithatchet13cover200My short story “Assholes with Guns” is out in The Literary Hatchet #13.

It’s a story about dangerous men, both young and old. I wrote it in a Noir class taught by Benjamin Whitmer (Cry, Father) that was hosted by LitReactor.com.

The magazine is available now in both a free online PDF and in print. You can pick up a copy here:  http://lizzieandrewborden.com/HatchetOnline/LiteraryHatchet/issues.htm

“A Gift of Flesh” at The Confabulator Cafe

My Christmas horror story “The Gift of Flesh” is now available at The Confabulator Cafe. It’s the story of a man who receives a strange cardboard box on his doorstep, and the madness that ensues. I hope you enjoy it. Have a great holiday season!

The Gift of Flesh

NaNoWriMo Week 2 at The Confabulator Cafe

I’ve been sick for a week, and it has significantly impacted my NaNoWriMo progress. You can read all about it in this weeks NaNoWriMo update at The Confabulator Cafe.

 

All Manner of Dark Things, 99 Cents on Kindle, This Week

allmannercoverfinalRay Bradbury’s birthday is today. My writing process is essentially borrowed whole from Bradbury. His book Zen in the Art of Writing inspires me every time that I read it.

My son’s birthday is tomorrow. Eight years ago, his birth changed my life, and he continues to inspire me every day.

In honor of them, my book All Manner of Dark Things is on sale as a Kindle Countdown for the next week. Drop by Amazon and pick up your digital copy for 99 cents.

Thanks for reading!

A Confabulator Sneak Peek at The Rest of Us

A couple of months ago, I woke up from a dream. All the rich people in the world had hopped on rocket ships, destined for some Martian colony.

I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t speculate on the mental mechanisms that caused such a thing. Was it all the talk of the one percent? NPR stories on Greece? Conservatives saying that the rich would leave if taxes were increased? I really have no idea. I’m not particularly interested in politics and I don’t dwell much on the organic nature of creative development.

After playing with the concept for awhile, I came up with preliminary ideas for a science fiction novel titled The Rest of Us, which is the story of those left behind.

This month, our Confabulator Cafe prompt was to write a story that takes place entirely in a dining room. I started a totally different story about a student at Miskatonic University who is back home in Kansas for spring break. That story, “The Cow of Cthulhu,” got away from me a bit and didn’t want to stay in the dining room.

I started out again, approaching the assignment like a one-act play. Somehow, The Rest of Us got stuck in my head, and I wrote “Bottoms Up.” The story takes place in that world, and the protagonist will likely be one of the main characters in the novel. I haven’t even started on the actual novel, yet. God knows, the last thing I need is another project to work on. That being said, you can get a really early sneak peek at one of my future projects.

I hope you enjoy the story. You can read it here.