Monday, July 21, 2014

Interesting Posts from Other Websites

This past week, writer Kait Nolan posted a blog Entitlement in Writer Culture in which she rails against some aspiring writers who feel it's their right to have their novels published, their right to have blog sites review their book, and their right to have established writers respond to them and treat them like equals. While I have not experienced this sense of entitlement, I'm sure it exists. If you are one of them, please take this posting to heart.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of zombies and insects, so zombie insects are like the Doublemint of horror. Needless to say, I found Scientists Unlock Secrets of Zombie Cockroaches quite interesting.

And now, for something completely different. For everyone who told me English grammar was boring or too hard to understand, Weird Al Yankovic makes it simple, so your argument is invalid.

And while we're on the subject of videos, I couldn't resist including the Star Wars Edition of Bohemian Rhapsody

And finally, in a follow-up to one of last week's postings, Vamped has listed The Other 5 Most Popular Vampire Songs on YouTube. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

REMINDER: I Will Be Discussing the End of the World Tonight on the Apocalypse Nana Show

Tonight myself and writer Dina Rae will be hosted by Jackie Druga on the "Apocalypse Nana" radio show on the Prepper Broadcasting Network where we will discuss how the world is going to end. Dina has recently written Big Pharma, Big Agri, Big Conspiracy: A New World Order Spin on Drugs and GMOS, and I have several years of CIA experience with weapons of mass destruction and information warfare (preventing, not waging), so I'm sure we'll have some creative insights into the apocalypse. So if you want to know how it's all going to end, tune in here tonight at 9PM EST/6PM PST.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Own Cautionary Tale for Aspiring Writers

Confession time. I've been hemming and hawing about posting this piece for over a week now, and had decided against it. However, in the past view days I've seen other writers offering their own warnings about the perils of publishing or advising aspiring authors about becoming overconfident, so I thought I'd grab my cautionary clarinet and jump onto the band wagon.

I recently received a rejection letter that pissed me off, and not because it was a rejection letter. I'm used to those. If I could translate every one I've received into a book sale, my Amazon numbers would be rocking. It was the condescending tone of the letter that irritated me. What the publisher (hopefully) intended as constructive feedback came across as lecturing and, at one point, included a sly insult. The piece was an erotica short story that the publisher derided as pornographic. This made me laugh because the line between the two is so thin, yet the publisher had this attitude that one side of the line was noble and the other shameful. It reminded me of the alcoholic who accuses the stoner of being an addict. The letter also contained an admonition on the exploitation and objectification of women, which I found hypocritical coming from a publisher of erotica.

Why do I bring this up? Because the current state of the publishing industry is a double-edged sword for writers, especially those who are aspiring to the craft. The rapid growth of independent publishing houses has allowed many authors access to the market that they would not normally have had before. That expansion, however, means the industry now contains numerous personalities that were rarely found when a few major publishing houses dominated the field. While most independent publishers are honest and look out for the interests of their writers, sadly there are many examples of those whose goal is to take advantage of new writers or exploit them.

I've been very fortunate in my career. I've never contracted with a publisher who disrespected me or my work, or who tried to cheat me out of royalty or intellectual property rights. However, I have had numerous encounters with so-called professionals who have been sanctimonious (see above), shady, or downright crooked. I want to pass along some of these stories to writers hoping to break into the business as a cautionary tale on not grabbing at the first publishing opportunity that arises. [NOTE: I will not be naming any person or company. My goal isn't to fling accusations or start a flame war, but to offer some sound business advice to the newbies.]

Don't feel like you have to take the first contract that is offered to you. This is especially hard for aspiring writers who have been querying and getting rejected (or ignored) for a year or more. I know. I had pitched The Vampire Hunters for over three years without success, and then one afternoon I received a response to a query saying the editors loved the manuscript and were forwarding me a contract. The contract was ridiculous. The publisher wanted me to give up all rights to the book for ever for a royalty of 10 percent on all sales. In essence, if I became the next Suzanne Collins or J.K Rowlings, 90 percent of all profits from my franchise would have gone to the publisher. The only thing not included in the contract was me having to pledge my soul to Davy Jones for one hundred years. When I rejected the offer, that publisher felt insulted. But I refused to accept a contract that was clearly detrimental to my career. The good news: One month later, I signed The Vampire Hunters with a different publisher.The current publisher of the trilogy, Emby Press, is very supportive and proactive, and the editor and I are constantly exchanging e-mails to discuss marketing ideas that will not only help my sales but the sales of the press' other writers.

Realize that some publishers have a hidden agenda. Unfortunately, most writers don't discover this fact until well after the ink on the contract has dried. I know a writer whom I am close to who signed a three-book deal with a new publisher. In the beginning, the relationship progressed well, until the publisher tried to force this writer to accept cover art that looked remarkably similar to the cover art of another established writer within the house's cache of authors and who wrote in the same genre. This established writer had ended her relationship with that publisher because of undisclosed contract disputes, and brought her series with her to a new publisher. By attempting to force my friend to accept these covers, he ran the risk (or perhaps intended to) deceive readers into thinking my friend's books were a continuation of the popular series to which the publisher no longer had the rights. While this move would have generated sales for the publishing house, it also had the potential of creating distrust between the writer and the readers, thus ruining my friend's career from the outset. My friend eventually convinced the publisher to go with a different cover art design.

Finally, beware of the con artists who troll this industry. These are the parasites who will blatantly take advantage of aspiring writers for the own gain, even at the expense of the writer's career and/or reputation. I encountered one such individual back in 2011. He had read The Vampire Hunters and asked if I would provide a historical piece on vampires for a book he was writing. Being young and naive (well, at least naive) I agreed without first checking into his background. The moment that I announced my intention on my blog, several people contacted me to warn me that this individual was a serial plagiarist who had developed an infamous reputation within the industry, so much so that every few months he had to close shop and re-emerge under a new alias (at last count he had twenty-four aliases I was aware of). Needless to say, I opted out of that arrangement. If I had not been warned by others about this individual, associating with him could have done irreparable damage to my reputation.

So how do aspiring writers (and even established ones) avoid these pitfalls? You can't. Sure, you can do your due diligence, conduct Google searches, ask other writers if they have heard of this publisher, but in the long run you can never be one hundred percent certain. What you can do is rely on your instincts. If you've been offered a contract and your heart is doing a happy dance, but your gut is telling you otherwise, listen to you gut. There are hundreds of independent publishers in the industry. If your work is solid, you'll eventually get picked up by one that is worthy of your talent. Do not sell yourself short.

And a note to those independent publishers who like to flaunt their status: Please remember that there are hundreds of companies like yours out there. If you continue to talk down to authors, take advantage of them, or exploit them for your own personal gain, then best of luck in finding and retaining a cache of good, prolific, successful writers who will sustain your operations in this industry.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Interesting Posts From Other Websites

I stumbled across this article the other day and thought it was a must-read for anyone who writes about vampires. The Escapist carried this piece by CJ Miozzi titled 8 Ways To Make Vampires Realistic that describes the scientific foundation for the undead. It's fascinating. 

True Blood Psychology: Why Audiences Love Vampires is an assessment pulled together by Kaylynne Spauls from articles published by CNN, For Men, and Psychology Today. I don't agree with her conclusions and I'm interested in what my fans, especially my female fans, think.

Nothing is more awesome than a good vampire death. Apparently FearNet agrees because they listed  The Top Ten Vampire Death Scenes from the Movies. I definitely agree with the top two picks, but feel like FearNet dropped the stake by not including the scene in Brides of Dracula (1960) when van Helsing turns the blades of a burning windmill so they form the shadow of a cross on the fleeing vampire and kill him.

While this is technically not horror-related, Joe McKinney, a homicide detective with the San Antonio Police Department and noted zombie author, offered this very useful insight on 10 Rules for Writing About Cops. If you're a writer and have the police as characters in your story, you need to check this out.

Finally, Vamped has listed The 5 Most Popular Vampire Songs on YouTube, at least according to vampire scholar J. Gordon Melton.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Join Me on Apocalypse Nana Radio 17 July

Join me on 17 July 2014 from 9 - 10 PM EST when I am hosted by fellow Permuted Press author and good friend Jackie Druga on the Apocalypse Nana show on The Prepper Broadcasting Network. Jackie and I will be discussing phenomenon and other realities that could set off an apocalyptic event, such as overpopulation, solar flares, cyber terrorism, etc. and how to prepare for the end. So please listen in that night, and be prepared to be blown away.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Interesting Posts From Other Websites

Novelist and screenwriter Chuck Wendig published on Terrible Minds his 25 Things You Should Know About Writing Horror. This is a must read for any horror writer, whether you're aspiring to the craft or have several works under your belt.

BuzzFeed ran an article titled 13 Places Every Horror Story Lover Needs To Visit Before They Die. I've only seen one of them--the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. I would love to see the Door to Hell and the Torture Museum.

Noted zombie writer Kirk Allmond discusses The Ultimate Zombie Survival Tool. You might be surprised at some of the most effective weapons everyone has available to make it through the zompoc.

For those who have heard rumors about a spin-off to The Walking Dead, Dustin Rowles of UPROXX provides the lowdown from AMC, Robert Kirkman, and others here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Reptilicus

Blood Bound Books in a few months will be publishing Yeitso, my homage to the big monster movies of the 1950s that I grew up with. In the weeks leading up to that, I pulled out a bunch of my old DVDs and have been watching those movies again. The other night, I had on Retilicus while I was writing.

Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my guilty pleasures is Reptlicus.I know, it's a really bad B-movie from 1961 that begs to have three guys in the corner ripping on it, but the movie still holds a soft spot in my heart. While many people have seen the movie, few are aware that there are two versions. Much like Universal Studios did with Dracula in 1931, in which a version with English-language actors was filmed by day and an almost identical Spanish-language version was filmed at night, Saga Studios of Copenhagen did the same thing. Saga Studios used bilingual actors (for the most part) who filmed the original movie under Danish director Poul Bang, and then those actors reprised their roles for the English-language version directed by Sydney Pink.






















However, when the English-language version came to the States, American International Pictures (AIP) considered Reptilicus unreleasable and had Danish-American screenwriter Ib Melchior completely rewrite the movie, removing scenes and entire subplots, and adding in horrible special effects (such as the green acid slime Reptilicis vomits up throughout the movie.) When the AIP version was released in 1962 in the States, it was different from the one released the year before in Denmark.I've been trying to find a copy of the original version, so far without success, but I was able to find some selected scenes from the Danish version to share.

One scene cut out of the AIP version was Reptlicus flying (as a kid I always wondered why he had wings but never flew--now I know). You can see the missing flight scene here. [Note Carl Ottosen, who plays General Mark Grayson in both movies, speaking Danish in this scene. The actress and actor who played Connie and Captain Brandt in the Danish-language version did not speak English and were replaced in the AIP version by Marla Behrens and Ole Wisborg.]

Another famous scene cut out of the AIP version is the Reptilicis theme, sung by famous Danish comedian Dirk Passer, who played Petersen in both versions.

This scene I could never understand. In the AIP version, you only see a close-up of the family as the roof of their house caves in. In the Danish version, you see Reptilicus' foot causing the damage.

Finally, Reptilics' return from the sea during his attack on the beach. The AIP version has him killing everyone by vomiting acid slime on them. The Danish version has him coming ashore and scaring everyone away. In my opinion, the latter version is much more effective, but you be the judge.

Enough geeking out on Reptilicus. I hope you all enjoyed this as much as I do.