Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guest Author: My Wife.

My wife L.Wallace decided to write a poem for "Siblings Day." Sadly, it isn't a light-hearted, celebratory stream of happy-go-lucky verse. Instead, it's a tragic overview of a family comprised of like-minded, self-congratulatory pack members who find dissent threatening. Objectively speaking, I wish she would write more:

A Group of Five:

A group of five, hatched one by one, they share a common time. The years go by; they grow and bond just like a nursery rhyme.
A decade passes, a generation, and now everyone knows their places.
A new hatchling arrives and though they rejoice, they also fear what she replaces.
She grows to be unique, so odd, and strong in her convictions.
Her style, her thoughts, her dreams aren’t ours; she must have some afflictions.
Because we are one, we don’t vector, we think as a unit. This is how we were meant to function.
This one thinks for herself and she backs it up, and we think she has too much gumption.
This hatchling is achieving things money can’t buy. She has no interest in money or gold. She craves knowledge and truth and works to the bone, and she does it on her own.
Well it’s obvious she’s out to make us look bad, by trying to be all she can be.
We must discredit and shun her from the pack, and then one day, she will see.
She’ll see that books and truth and knowledge are bobbles and she’ll parish never knowing real means.
That it’s who you pretend to be and how many you deceive and earn off someone else’s dreams.
Look at how she makes mom cry with each new accomplishment. Yet she still does more than her part, much to our admonishment.
But if she doesn’t stop trying to be nothing like us and if she earns just one more degree…
And if she tries to show us up by caring, and volunteering and not accepting things for free,
then all we say will be true and just, as she is no longer our sibling. She will continue to live in our shadows, the poor little misguided thing
.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another Wonderful Cover.

The anthology pictured below features my previously unpublished short story, "Beautiful Libby." It's edited by Michael Cieslak of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and a portion of the sales from the book go to the Last Day Dog Rescue Organization.

Naturally, I am proud and delighted to be in its pages with so many other quality authors.




More on this one once it's available!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Short Story.

My friend and talented fantasy illustrator Larry Lonsby, Jr. is involved with a new literary genre magazine and I am proud to announce the publication of my own flash fiction piece, "From Out the Abyss Within" in its pages.

Larry did the cover for Kaiju, my second novel, and the cover shown below is just as incredible as expected:

Order it here for only $3.99. It really is a duality publication.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What I Learned About Writing About Religion.


The recent debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Creation Museum founder/Young Earth Theory proponent Ken Hamm put me in the mind of something that happened to me during my formative years.  For it was at the tender age of fifteen that I learned what Bill Nye has apparently yet to comprehend: There ain’t no arguing or even discussing the facts with a religious fundamentalist.

Back then, I hadn’t really talked to any.  I suppose I’d been around them my entire life, but the subject of their beliefs never came up until one day when I was talking to a friend of mine in class about the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”   Those who have seen it are aware that the film opens with the Dawn of Man, during which ape-like hominids are shown dying off due to lack of food and ingenuity when a gigantic alien obelisk arrives and provides them with the next step in their…wait for it…evolution.

This friend, who was considered by several in the classroom to be the “smart one,” told me about how that portion of the film had always scared him.  Assuming it was due to the incredibly violent death scenes, I mentioned the killing and was told that wasn’t the reason.

“Oh,” I said, mildly surprised.  “Then what scares you?”

“I don’t believe in that stuff.”

“What stuff?”

“All that stuff about evolution and people starting off as monkeys.”

My jaw nearly came unhinged.  I’d never heard anyone say that before.  I tried explaining to him that it was a viable and tested theory, but he put his palm up and repeated that he didn’t "believe that stuff" a few more times.  Finally, I asked him if he believed God took clay and blew on it to make a human being.

“I believe what the Bible says,” he replied.

“Well, that is what the Bible says.”

He seemed uncomfortable, unsure how to proceed.  It was as if an internal struggle was taking place deep inside him, one that probably wouldn’t be reconciled for years to come.  I dropped it, too stunned to continue.

Months later, our English teacher, a jovial man who looked like a less creepy-looking Jerry Mathers, assigned us a comparison research paper.  I knew instantly what I wanted to write about and set about doing so.  By the time we had to bring in our first drafts to go over with the teacher, I was rather pleased with what I’d accomplished.  So pleased, in fact, that I made the mistake of mentioning it to a group of five or six guys sitting near me.

“I decided to do a paper on the similarities between Greek mythology and the Bible.”

Imagine your eyes as a movie camera, slowly panning along a semi-circle of shocked, repulsed and enraged teenage boys and you might have a slight idea what things looked like from my perspective.  I thought they were angry because I’d come up with an advanced topic that was sure to make their efforts look meager by comparison.

Nope!

One of them started yelling at me about how there were no similarities between Greek mythology and the books of the Bible.  Then the friend with whom I’d once discussed the Dawn of Man launched in, demanding to know what similarities I was referring to.  I had five that I’d chosen but I went with my favorite.

“You know how Eve was tempted to eat the apple and wound up learning about sin? Pandora did the same thing when she opened the box she was told not to open. Both stories feature a curious woman who unleashes evil on the world.”

“THAT’S IT, THOUGH!” my friend yelled. “There aren’t anymore!”

“Actually, there are—“

A cacophony of voices erupted from those facing me, each louder and less coherent than the last.  It was only when a person who would become the sole voice of reason I knew at the school told everybody to calm down and let me speak that they stopped.  I thought about it for a moment and decided I had said enough.  At that moment, I’d learned a valuable lesson.  There was no reasoning with these people.  They weren’t thinkers, they were believers, and nothing and no one would ever come between them and what they’d chosen to believe.

The teacher’s reaction was a whole different story.  He was so impressed by the paper, he kept asking me if I’d had any help.  It wasn’t until I started going into detail about my fascination with mythology and the sources I’d used that he realized I was more advanced than my classmates.  In fact, he half-jokingly complained that there wasn’t anything in the paper for him to criticize or have me change, nearly leaping for joy when he found a minor formatting error.

That was when I learned my second lesson.  Never stop pursuing your vision just because people around you are narrow-minded.  I have never shied away from writing about polarizing topics and I never will.

On a side note, that teacher pulled me aside on the last day of school and told me how impressed he’d been by my writing and my intellect and how he knew I would do great things someday.  I’d never had a truly positive experience with a teacher like that and I have never forgotten it, although I do hope he’s not still waiting for me to do those great things he predicted.

And the voice of reason who had wanted to hear more?  We became close friends for years to come and then, one day, he turned to me and in a calm, rational voice, said, “You know science is the devil’s religion, right?”

The story never ends~

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cheapest Anthology Yet!

I looked on Facebook and exclaimed, "Holy Crap nuggets with extra sauce!" The fact that I was at a funeral meant nothing. I was stunned, shocked, I tell you!

Miles Booth, formerly of the sadly now defunct Pill Hill Press, has rescued the monster hunter anthologies he compiled and edited with such loving care and has reissued them under his new imprint, Embry Press. Here's the "holy crap" part:

It is 711 pages and features ALL of the stories from volumes one and two of "Legends of the Monster Hunter!" That means two of my stories are present in the omnibus that some are calling, "Good reading for those who need twice the Nadeau in a single dose." I don't know who the "some" who said it are, I'm just employing the fabled Fox News tactic of saying what I want to say while ascribing it to a phantom commentator.

The other reason I exclaimed about crap was when I realized the Kindle edition of the book is only $2.99! Considering the quality of the work inside, I highly recommnded using your data for this one!

The omnibus is called "Both Barrells" and can be ordered by clicking here.

Happy hunting!

Monsters, that is.  See what I did there?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bestselling Author Thinks Novels with Fantasy in Them Don't Feature Death.

A few months ago, I posted about genre ignorance and those who should know better. The person I used as my example was a person who volunteered for and belonged to a Friends of the Library group.  Sometimes even the most well-intentioned individuals don't know as much as they should, but what about those who actually work as professional writers?

New York Times Bestselling literary fiction author Russell Banks (whom I must confess was entirely off my radar until now) has now stated in two separate interviews that he avoids reading anything described by its author as fantasy because death is apparently not present in such works.  I guess all the jokes my publisher makes about the high body counts in my novels are just jokes.

Read the latest Banks bluster here.

I haven't seen such an unbearable amount of self-indulgence since I tried reading the latest Chabon novel...and I'm a fan of his!

This is yet another case of genre snubbing in favor of what is perceived as "serious literature." Never mind how unreadable and dull much of it is, it apparently still stands head and shoulders above anything involving fantasy.

To paraphrase my fellow Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers member Michael Cieslak, I used to get so angry when I heard or read these things, but now I just experience pity for narrow minds that will ever experience variety.

Monday, December 30, 2013

On the Overuse of the Word "Genius" and the Damage it's Causing.


The word “genius” is about bandied about entirely too much nowadays. Lately, it seems as if anyone who does something somebody else likes is automatically provided with that label. The bar has been lowered so ridiculously close to the ground for true genius that almost anyone who can string a sentence together or shoot something in focus is held up with the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci and that guy who invented the pet rock.

What exactly is a genius anyway?  What does the word actually mean and, more importantly, how does it relate to the individuals being praised as such?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the only truly reputable source for definitions in my opinion, the meaning of the word “Genius” is as follows:

 

1.

a. Extraordinary intellectual and creative power: artistic works of genius.

b. A person of extraordinary intellect and talent.

c. A person who has an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, typically above 140.

2.

a. A strong natural talent, aptitude, or inclination: has a genius for choosing the right words.

b. One who has such a talent or inclination: a genius at diplomacy.

 

In 1711, when the notion of genius was becoming mainstream, Joseph Addision wrote, “There is no character more frequently given to a writer than that of being a genius', wrote Addison. ‘There is not a heroic scribbler in the nation that has not his admirers who think him a great genius; and as for your smatterers in tragedy, there is scarce a man among them who is not cried up by one or other for a prodigious genius.”

Even back then some people understood the word genius to be an overused descriptive employed by people who were easily impressed by the creative or intellectual processes of others.  Okay, fine.  There were also far fewer people alive then than there are now.  These days the word is used by more than just scholars and intellectual hedonists.  Online communication has shrunk the world and given everybody with fingers a voice.  It has also convinced a large amount of the population that they are experts on whatever subject they find interesting or entertaining.

This all-around expert status has also led to irresponsible usage of words such as “genius” and even “essential,” which is a commentary unto itself (and one that’s in the works).  Much like hopeful parents desperate to have their children labeled as “gifted” when they’re clearly average, millions of people in the Western world ascribe genius to works that, while often well-written, performed, directed, etc., are most certainly not works of genius.

For instance, a certain writer/director who is the darling of the fanboy/girl contingent can do no wrong in the eyes of these people.  However, when someone who might know what he or she is talking about takes an objective look at this person’s work, what emerges is something different from blind, unquestioning, cult-like adoration.  Instead, one begins to see a list of contrivances and gimmicks that have served him so well, admittedly to positive effect in several cases, that aren’t works of genius, they’re just very clever and entertaining. 

One of my Facebook friends referred to this person’s “quiet genius,” a comment that made me chuckle.  He is definitely soft-spoken, so they got the quiet part right, but a genius? Sadly, no. Heavy-handed pop culture references, self-conscious dialogue and supposedly unexpected deaths are not indicative of genius.  Calling him that puts this individual on the same level as Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola or even Kubrick when he wasn’t succumbing to his one sense of importance.  I can guarantee one thing in this piece above all others: The unnamed auteur will never create anything on their level and thinking otherwise is simply embracing cluelessness.

However, his fans will never come around to my way of thinking either.  Nor do I necessarily want them to.  People are entitled to their viewpoints, no matter how damaging they are to the Big Picture.  And make no mistake: There is damage being caused here. 

Hailing modest talents as geniuses has led to an overall reduction in quality in the arts, the ever-lamented Law of Diminishing Returns.  Derivation has become its own animal, with music “sampling” and “mashup” fiction on the front lines of the struggle to bankrupt imaginations and marginalize more original voices.  I see no end in sight to this and, while I try to write mostly stories from my own head and not someone else’s, I certainly don’t view myself as the heir apparent to the throne of righteous originality.

But genius, true genius, will always distinguish itself from the rest.  It’s just going to need to develop a much louder voice~