Greetings to All my Friends Fans, Family and Loyal Readers. It’s been a little time since my last post and there’s a decent amount to be updated on.
First I’m fresh off the NaNoWriMo Contest, this year’s novel “October Surprise and Other Stories” (actually it’s a Novella padded out with several short stories) was another success. 77,861 words (that’s 27k more then I needed to pass, I actually cleared the 50k word mark on November 19th). I put a total of 65 hours just into the novel (or book, your choice), and that is only writing, editing will be a longer process, to be done next year. here’s a quick synopsis of the stories in the new book.
October Surprise – the title story is a retelling of Alvin Schwarts’ retelling of classic scary stories and folk tales originally retold (not a type-o) in “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” in the framework of a hardboiled noir mystery, set against the backdrop of a local election. Did you get all that? I hope so because the other stories are going to be even more complicated.
Fourthwrite – (also not a type-o). this story takes place in a future semi-dystopia where writing is taboo and borderline illegal, and writers groups have taken on an outlaw biker gang image. The future world is the center of a book to be worked on in the future, something called a Fix-Up, which is a novel made up of stories which have been strung together with a loose narrative, usually written story first (yeah I don’t much care for the name either, but what can you do). Anyway, this particular story is about one of these outlaw writers groups, called Fourthwrite, and they are meeting at a coffee shop to read their stories to each other. There are four stories within this story itself, complete with a discussion about each story. So when this is finally placed into the fix-up, there will be stories within a story within a novel, and that’s why that novel will be called “Heavy Meta.”
Snakes Without Colors – this is a creative non-fiction. It was written as part of a 20-minute exercise during a memoir writing class. My dad took the class with me and his 20-minute memoir was quite good as well. I won’t go into what this story because it’s already been published here.
A Quarter Dollar – this story takes place in another world created during this year’s NaNoWriMo contest. In this alternate history, technology is rapidly developed during WWII and as a result, the timelines of the 50’s and the 80’s have merged together, soda fountains have arcade machines, rock and roll is played alongside synthwave, massive social upheavals occur overnight, liberals and conservatives are as far apart as can be. That world is called “The Sock Hop Revolution” and just what is going to take place in this novel or whatever it might be I don’t know. The story, however, is about a soldier returning to his old high school hang out, a soda-fountain, 10 years later and pontificating on all the changes that have taken place since the last time he was there. The stories actually a lot heavier then that preview makes it sound.
Last They Came – if you remember the “Heavy Meta” universe mentioned in “Fourthwrite” this is a poem that kind of sets up the entire situation described there. It’s a parody/homage to the poem “First They Came” by Martin Niemöller.
Shades of Death – another story that takes place in the “Heavy Meta Universe” this one is about a driving club that does a run through the Poconos and Endless Mountains. This is another stories within a story story, but it’s more subtle and conversational, then the jarringly clear way they are presented in “Fourthwrite”
Firehowl – Tree of Blood was originally going to be the novel for this year. but kind of at the last minute it switched to this collection I’ve been telling you about. There are a variety of reasons why this happened, and I’m not going to go into all of them here. But the big reason is that the novel is already half (or maybe 1/3) written, and that didn’t seem fair. It did seem fair though to include a segment from that unfinished novel into this collection. So that’s why it’s here.
TV Killers – this is another parody/homage, this one to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Killers” (and if you’re interested, it’s my favorite story by Hemingway and you can read it here, it’s not very long.) In the original story, two Jewish gangsters walk into a diner, try to order dinner, fail to order dinner, and admit they are there to kill a Swedish boxer. In this story, it’s 2 women that walk into the diner and discuss various storylines they are going to use in the TV shows they work on. another “Heavy Meta” story… most likely.
Updates – wait a minute that’s this piece.
Okay, so that was NaNoWriMo 2017, here’s some more, less related updates.
If you remember about a year ago I did a blog post on a new anthology released by my writer’s group. Well, this year we have another one, our second annual. This time I actually have 3 stories published in it. So this year it’s 3 for the price of one… but with a price. The new anthology is the same price as last year: $9.99, and it will make a great Christmas present (hint hint) all proceeds go to the Downingtown Library, which hosts our writer’s club, the Doo-Writers.
The theme of the anthology this year was “Fun in the Sun and the Madness of the Moon.” My stories included in this anthology are (in order of their appearance):
Your Last Opportunity to get the Eta Corinae Colonizer Kit – this story is written in the form of an infomercial pitch, trying to get you buy into a franchise that will help you colonize planets. It’s funny, poignant and short, so give it a read.
Rendezvous with the Secular Church of Gasoline – an older story written at the tail end of my hyper-maximalist years. This story is entirely a dialogue of two people discussing the image and idea of an abandoned gas station. This one is not easy to read or understand. But if your up for the challenge, the payout could be very nice.
Knight Camp – this is another story that takes place at World’s End Scout Reservation, a place that is in one way or another the main character of “The Boy Scout Camp at the End of the World” the story I published in last year’s anthology (and also probably my best story thus far, in my opinion, with Uncle Melvin at a close second.)
New Contributors – sadly we did not get as much interest in this anthology as we had with last year, But we did have 3 new contributors: Travis Shaw – who wrote a story in verse about the sun and moon as lovers who pursue each other in “A Moon’s Tale,” Craig Bolton – who wrote a story about a slave who is tasked with maintaining an abandoned plantation set against Sherman’s March to the Sea in “Howling Georgia,” and three stories from Josh Mavis: “Embarkation of Moonlight” “Chi-Chi’s is Closed Forever” and “Ragout Fin” (Chi-Chi’s is the best of these stories, an interesting take on time travel and some of its paradoxes. The other two are pretty good too.)
Returning Contributors – aside from myself, Chris Scudese, Jennie Gardiner and J.C. Wilson all contributed to this year’s anthology. “Come All Within,” and “Amber Has a Secret” the opening and closing pieces of the anthology by Scudese and Gardiner respectively are both outstanding. Brendan Lyons did not contribute a story to the anthology this year however he was responsible for designing the interior, and for that we thank him.
Aside from the novel and the anthology I would like to point out a new section that you may have noticed on my that says “Other.” I feel there are enough other things I’ve done to finally make this section a real thing. The two Doo-Writers anthologies, you already know about, and the contribution to people of few words Vol. 3 you may be familiar with. But there is also an interview with the Ginger Collect, and also an acknowledgment.
My good friend Nick Gregorio invited me to the launch of his first novel. He read an excerpt from the novel, answered questions, and signed copies of his book. But before that, he read the acknowledgments page. A friend I had brought with asked if I was going to be acknowledged in the book and I told him that I doubted it. then a minute later Nick read my name along with my friend Dean with a nice memory of our days in college and our original writer’s group. It was very nice and most unexpected. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but I’ll do a nice review of that as soon as I have. But I am a slow reader so forgive the anti-timeliness.