Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Door Closed, Window Open.

As I promised on my Facebook fanpage, here is the story of the horrible news I received regarding a publisher with whom I've had a wonderful working relationship over the past few years. As some of you may know, a few of my short stories have appeared in their anthologies, and I have always been pleased with the results.

Recently, I'd been waiting and waiting for news of when my latest monster hunter story would see print, as it had been accepted months ago. I was eager to know because this would mark my third story in Pill Hill's monster hunter series, meaning I'd so far appeared in all of them. But repeated questions on the publisher's message board resulted in nothing concrete until yesterday when I and several other authors received the following email:

Announcement from Pill Hill Press Forum

I’m afraid I have some unpleasant news. Jessy was going to write this, but she has accidentally deleted her account. We have decided to close PHP.

Jessy has been trying to go back to work for the past few weeks and, with the babies she cannot give Pill Hill or the authors’ creations the time, attention, and love they deserve.

All short stories currently in submissions are returned to the authors. All rights on unpublished books revert back to the author. Authors who are currently getting royalty statements will be getting a snail mail letter about rights, etc.

The website is down, and we are contacting lefora about closing the forum.

This decision did not come without a few tears. We have truly enjoyed working with all of you, and have met some wonderful people, some of whom I consider to be friends. Thank you for sharing your creations with us, the glimpses into your imaginations have been entertaining, thought provoking, wondrous, and at times a little scary. It has been a privilege to work with all of you.

All our best,
Alva J Roberts
Pill Hill Press

I was understandably upset and crestfallen. Then my favorite (former) Pill Hill editor sent us the email below:

Hello Monster Hunters,

As many of you know by now, Pill Hill Press has closed its doors. The news came yesterday (a little over 12 hours ago for those in the UK) in the form of an email that took everybody by surprise. I responded as quickly as I was able to let folks know that I have started a new press, Emby Press, and that I will be publishing Use Enough Gun exactly as described and planned by Pill Hill.

I know that there has been confusion regarding the silence on the Pill Hill Press forums and over the past few months I've been biting my nails like everyone else. During the summer and early fall, I updated the thread on the forum and posted the "Campfire Tales" interviews thinking that we would have a book out by Christmas, but I stopped updating when I lost contact with Jessy. Then, about a week and a half ago, I heard back from her and she told me that she and Alva had been swamped with their new family and that they were considering closing the press (having a 3 year old son myself, I told her that I understood completely and figured everybody else would as well). I mention this now as an acknowledgement that it has been a frustrating wait for all of us and that in a time when so many other small presses have closed or just gone silent, I understand and very much appreciate everyone's patience and your not giving up on this book!

Several of you have asked me if I know anything about Wicked East Press or Static Movement Press and simply put, I do not.

But I can tell you all about Emby Press! First, the website is currently under construction and will be posted at www.embypress.com as soon as it's ready. My focus will be to publish Use Enough Gun and to re-release Leather, Denim & Silver and The Trigger Reflex. And, as soon as the website goes live, there will be a new call for submissions for the next monster hunting volume. I'm going to keep the theme of this one general, similar to Leather, Denim & Silver - just wanted to mention that in case anyone wanted to start making notes.

For Use Enough Gun, I have all of the stories so there is no need to worry or re-send anything. I will need to draft a new contract for each author to return to me - everybody knows the drill (the terms and payment will be the same as the old contract). As soon as the contract is ready, I'll send it to all of you. I'm still sorting through what will be needed for the re-releases of Leather, Denim & Silver and The Trigger Reflex and will post that info as I have it.

The physical books will be of the same quality as the Pill Hill volumes. The ebooks will be go up for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as before. I do want to try and expand to ibooks (Apple) as well, but I'm still looking into it.

I plan to communicate with everyone through the website and facebook - I don't plan on opening a forum up right away because managing those suckers is a full time job in and of itself.

I think that's about it...

For now, what I will ask from all of you is that you reply to this email to let me know that you still wish your story to appear in Use Enough Gun. Just a quick note that says "Of course I want to be included in this epic new venture!" or, alternatively "Please do not ever contact me again or I will be forced to report you to the authorities". This will let me know if I need to replace any stories or if the book will remain intact.

I'm sure that there will be more questions and you can hit me here (milesboothe@comcast.net) or on facebook at Miles Boothe (I'm the ghost) of the Legends of the Monster Hunter page.

Thanks again for your patience with all of this. We are all monster hunters - we know the risks and we accept that not everyone is coming back. But the hunt will go on.

MIles Boothe
Emby Press
And just like that, we were back in bidness. I look forward to working with Emby Press and am sure the relationship will be just as mutually beneficial. There, corporate lingo exhausted. Isn't this freakin' awesome!?


Saturday, January 19, 2013

2012 In movies (Revised & updated)

2012 was not an inspiring year for movies, at least not when it came to the ones I saw at the movie theater. Below is a list of the films I went and saw with brief reviews of each one:

The Hunger Games- Genuinely awful. This is the type of film that reminds me why teenagers are still developing their taste. Bad dialogue, mopey “acting” substituting as grim resolve and dull situations made this one of the more painful exercises in futility I’ve suffered through in years.

Amazing Spider-Man- Embarrassingly bad. As far as I was concerned, there was no need to reboot a franchise that was working, but since Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire wanted an extra year to develop a quality Spidey flick, the studio stupidly chose to green light this abortion. Spidey for the “Twilight” degeneration, this film features a mopey Peter Parker with a soap opera level backstory and some of the cheapest-looking visual effects I’ve seen since the Scorpion King in “The Mummy Returns.”

The Bourne Legacy- Very good. Not as good as the Greengrass/Damon films, but the same screenwriter from those films wrote and directed this one with a mostly positive pay-off. Kudos to him for creating a separate yet equally interesting concept running concurrent with the events of the third film. It’s a bit draggy and confusing in the beginning, but once the film finds its legs, it’s one helluva ride!

Skyfall- Absolute drivel. I was never keen on the reboot to begin with, but "Casino Royale" turned out to be an astoundingly good film. Then "A Quantum of Solace" showed me what happens when idiots run the show. Now "Skyfall" comes along and reveals how little there is left to say in a Bond film. Featuring a screenplay that felt as if it was written by fifteen different teams of writers who never met or compared notes, this garbage pile lurches along from uninspired scene after scene until a pathetically awful conclusion ripped out of "Witness" with Harrison Ford. It's so poorly structured, that a scene at the end that should have held emotional relevance resulted in a shrug from me. I have now officially lost interest in Daniel Craig's Bond films. 

Lincoln- Very good. Still, it could have been better. And had Spielberg not been the director, it probably would have been. I’ve always seen Speilberg as a superficial director whose skills in creating suspense are not useful when doing character studies. His historical films have been at best uneven and, at worst, “Schindler’s List.” Daniel Day-Lewis is excellent and Sally Field does well with what she’s given. It’s the acting that makes this rather static film move.

The Avengers- Excellent. I’m not just saying that as a fanboy, either. This was a film that could have easily not lived up to the hype, but it exceeded it. The characters are well-represented, the dialogue is crisp and serves the plot rather than hampering it like the awful lines uttered in the Spider-Man reboot, and the action is phenomenal.

John Carter- Great. An underrated adaptation of a difficult novel, this film was unfairly maligned because of its budget. It’s the first thing I’ve seen in years that made me feel the way I felt when I first saw Star Wars. Even the JJ Abrams Star Trek didn’t do that.

Taken 2- Painfully awful. To be fair, repeated viewing of “Taken” the first reveal it to be a deeply flawed film with little redeeming quality beyond its star and subject matter. But compared to its sequel, the first one is a masterpiece. Taken 2 pushes the concept of kidnapping to its illogical extremes and actually has the daughter running around Turkey tossing live grenades onto rooftops so Super-Liam can direct her to where he’s being held prisoner. The fight scenes are stiff and geriatric feeling and the climax between Neeson and the main bad guy is so abrupt, I literally missed it. Terrible, terrible movie that I feel dumber for having watched.

Ghostrider: Spirit of Vengeance- Meh. I didn’t have a problem with the first one, so the idea of a revamped sequel was lost on me. Yes, Johnny Blaze is darker and crazier in this one, but the story feels rushed and all the cool setup gets lost in asides showing how crazy and evil the title character is.

Total Recall- Forgettable. Instantly forgettable. I’ve never seen a more disposable remake. I used to have a strong dislike for the Schwarzenegger original, but that one at least had feeling behind it. The remake feels cold, functional and serviceable at best.
Django Unchained- This was the one film, other than the "Avengers," I'd been waiting for. It was also the perfect way to close out the year, following the dreadfulness of Bond and the whitewashed classroom boredom of "Lincoln." The writing, the directing, the acting are all perfect, Tarrantino once more showing that he exists in a world of quality filmmaking quie separate from most of his peers. Best movie of the year.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Congratulations Are In Order!

I'd like to take a break from discussing myself and extend a hearty congrats to my literary home-gurl and favorite editor, Jeani Rector, who took first place in three different awards in the recent Preditors and Editors poll.

Best Fiction Ezine
Best Poetry Ezine
Best Ezine Editor
Here are the results:
Take a bow, Jeani, you maginificent !#$%^&*()!
Read the Ezine in question here.  It's free!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My 8 Writer Resolutions for 2013 (Because you care and you know you do):


These are in no particular order.

Work on getting past my resentment of the e-reader phenomenon. I am an old school sorta cat when it comes to reading, preferring the crinkle, smell and look of an actual printed page to a screen. However, e-readers and their kindred have ensured that reading, an endangered species since the Eighties, will continue to occur. Plus, although it seems to have plateaued, it ain't goin' nowhere, so I might as well learn to embrace, if not love, its impersonal butt.

Place focus back on novels. 2011 was a phenomenal year for me in terms of published short stories. 2012 wasn't too shabby either. I firmly believe in bending with the breeze, and in those years it was definitely blowing in the short fiction direction. However, I have neglected three unfinished novels and they deserve my attention.

Prioritize my life. As the great Joe Lansdale recently posted on Facebook, writing is important to a writer, but it's not the only thing. For years I have placed undue emphasis on writing as if it defined me and everything else was merely time spent away from my true path. Recent awakenings have shown me how wrong I was and I have lots of catch-up to play!

Return to my favorite Genre. The focus on novels will actually cause this to happen but, despite my enjoyment of horror and recent publishing success with it, it's a genre I sort of fell into on the way to dark urban fantasy. For those not in the know, that means stories taking place in current times, generally in a city setting that usually does away with the dragons and wizards of typical, traditional fantasy lore, but still involves some form of magical realism. Most of my stuff fits that category or even what I reluctantly call dark urban science fiction, which is probably a good name for my “Infinity's Core” trilogy.

To not jump at every opportunity for publicity. If there is such a thing as a free lunch, it probably doesn't taste very good. If being a writer has taught me anything, it is that many people think they're doing you a favor by “letting”you write for them or even by discussing your work in a public forum. There is a sickening devaluation of the author in this country (U.S.) Sadly, a chance to pimp one's work is often too good to be true, as I recently rediscovered. Caution is the watch word for 2013.

To Read more Non-fiction. I don't dwell in a world of pervasive fiction, but I also find those who read naught but non-fiction to be collosal bores and wastes of time. Still, I do enjoy a riveting piece of non-fiction, including biographies. One can never be too well-read regarding the real world when writing about the world in one's head. Besides, a well-written non-fiction piece is a real prize, as most of it tends to skew towards the dry and dull.

To continue to strive for originality. Despite that one-hit wonder Shakespeare's assertions to the contrary, there are still new things under the sun, they just aren't as new as they once were. I'll let that one sink in for a moment before continuing...Anyway, I'm not interested in treading ground that's filled with the footprints of those who walked through before me. Nor am I interested in jostling for position with others eager to trod upon said ground like pilgrims to Mecca. When I write a story, I try to come up with something I haven't seen before. I don't just mean a new spin on a familiar concept, I mean something I truly have not seen or, at the least, has not been done often enough to yet be considered a staple. That's me, of course. Ya'll other writers do what ya'll want.

Write more of the types of stories I want to see. For the past couple of years, I've been tailoring much of of my fiction to the guidelines and requirements of others. Nothing wrong with that; it's often how one gets published. However, as mentioned above, my phenomenal year and a half of publishing opportunities began to dictate what I wrote. Often instead of finding markets for my written work, I was looking for what anthology and magazine editors wanted and writing stories to suit them. As a friend said to me years ago,“You used to write adventure stories.” I miss those. Time to rediscover what caused me to love the written word in the first place.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quote of the Week.

"It's said that a universe exists inside each mind. That is infinitely believable to me, given what appears to be reality among so many of our fellow...creatures."

-My Uncle Mike, inadvertantly helping me figure out a story I couldn't get to work until now.

Monday, January 7, 2013

5 Ways to Spot a Hack.

If there's one thing that truly saddens me about being in a creative field like fiction writing, it's the overwhelming amount of people involved in it who seem more interested and content in being perceived as being in it that in actually doing it. It's as if the 1980s never ended and the perception of greatness means more than actual accomplishment. The internet has only given them more of a platform for their pretentions.

Non-writers don't always know the difference; to them, anybody who puts their name on something is the same as someone whose name was put their because they know what they're doing. However, there are way to spot hacks, time-tested signs and traits that have not been eradicated by the hopeful cluelessness of online chatter. Below, you'll find a  list that was not developed exclusively by me because, unlike the people I'm writing about, I don't possess the godlike powers of all-knowing arrogance and certitude:

(In no particular order of importance or egregiousness)
Their sense of entitlement far exceeds their abilities. To quote another source, “It amazes me how some can be so sure they are better than others with no room for improvement.” Well, it astounds me. These people are borderline sociopaths, some not so borderline, who were obviously filled with unrealistic concepts of their own brilliance either by bad parenting or by surrounding themselves with others just like them. Half these people can't even string together a decent sentence, let alone use proper punctuation, but they're the first ones to criticize others and offer up their incoherent ramblings as proof of true greatness.

They always think you're the problem. To quote yet another source, “Hacks believe that the reader will 'get' what he or she is trying to do instead of actually writing for clarity (this encompasses grammar, puncutation, plot, story, characters, etc.) All I can add to that insight is that the mentality stretches beyond the reader to any attempts at editing as well. Everyone who has a dissenting viewpoint is a moron because, like, people didn't get that Picasso guy either!

They end to think everything they do is orignal, even when they acknowledge that they're doing something that's been done before. “Nobody's ever done it like this!” they rant. That's often because real professionals knew it was a bad idea.

They incorrectly believe there's no such thing as bad publicity. Per one source, “Hacks will trash other, more established authors for a little name recognition...Citing other authors and [publishing] companies as the reason they aren't published is another tactic along the same lines.” Let's clarify something that should beg no clarification: Writers are not gangster rappers or punk rockers. Instigating one-sided wars with people who are more powerful than you and don't care who you are is pointless, absurd, and the fastest track to obscurity. Unless you're looking to transform yourself into a self-publishing guru like JA Konrath whose income is greatly augmented by that status, I and all serious writers suggest you just shut the hell up and write.
They think we're interested in their need for therapy. I blame Eminem for this one. His insistence that his more controversial subject matter was a form of self-therapy surely lent credence to the idea for hack authors, too. If their family was dysfunctional or they have experienced a traumatic experience, we're expected to find that riveting. As one author put it, “The idea is to create a fiction that seems real, not make people read your therapy journal while you work out your Daddy issues.”

(This list will have a continuation at some point)