Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nightwalk



Welcome to Coventry Woods...

...a tranquil, middle class neighborhood where trees turn the streets into shady tunnels, soccer moms jog on secluded paths, and backyard barbecues are weekend staples. It's a quiet, urban example of the American dream. Here businessmen are neighbors with radio DJs, young doctors buy their first houses, and author Mark Garrett has been settling in with his lovely new wife and stepdaughter.

But tonight Mark's new neighborhood is going to come with something he never bargained on.

The pits of Hell have yawned wide and poured their contents into the midnight streets and homes of Coventry Woods. Everything has gone insane. Shots and screams ring out in the night, while death stalks the darkness in forms this earth has never before seen. Even worse, the only hope of escape is by foot.

Now Mark, along with his stepdaughter and his back-fence neighbor, must flee the neighborhood while attempting to help anybody they meet. And it won't be easy. They will be walking a gauntlet of unearthly predators, as they strive toward a goal they aren't even sure still exists...

...the outside world

Available on Amazon.com on September 1st.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Why Nate Doesn't Do Politics (a rant from Facebook)



(this was a minor rant of mine from Facebook but I figured it deserved a post here)

A long time ago, when the internet was young, I was a true political junkie. I spent hours on The Drudge Report, CNN, BBC, Gaurdian, Free Republic, etc. That’s not counting the time spent in front of the new 24 hour news channels. Over time it became a world of its own. I cursed at politicians I hated, followed debates with obsessive zeal, stayed up to date on the latest breaking news, and had in depth knowledge on all the latest outrages. And not just from one political point of view.

I’ve spent different parts of my life on both ends of the political spectrum. I have bemoaned the existence of Neanderthals and Dirty Hippies alike.

And then one day I started to realize how much it was taking over my life. First of all, it seemed like I was always angry about something “going on out there” or whatever the outrage de jour was. I would catch myself clenching my jaw to the point it hurt while watching TV or reading the internet. And then it finally hit me.

There are people who make money on that. Very intelligent, very driven people who understood that keeping me in a perpetual state of outrage is what kept me coming back.

And it worked.

The news no longer informs…it peddles emotion. It addicts. There are political/economic/social factions out there whose very survival depends on keeping a certain amount of people at various levels of angst and anger over their issues. Furthermore, they have absolutely no concern over the consequences that might have for the people they do that to. It’s not their problem. And it took me a long time to truly appreciate the effect it had on me.

First of all, I was always angry about something. Wasting emotion on things that had absolutely nothing to do with my day to day life. My mind was not on where I was, or where I was going…it was on those dirty Neanderthals/Hippies and what they were doing now. It was on people I would never meet. And worse...it was stealing my stories.

I’ve always been something of a story teller. Even when not telling them, I was living them in my head…drawn from my interactions with the world, people, animals, and events. But now I found myself thinking in other stories…stories that read like news reports, and wasted emotion in fruitless ways. It spoke with the voice of commentators and radio personalities, and sometimes I swear I could see the TV style scan lines in my mental pictures of the actors. I was losing who I was in agenda driven stories from people who saw me as nothing more than a number to add to their ratings/click count/followers list.

It had to stop. It still has to stop.

I stopped watching TV. No more CNN/FOX/MSNBC. (my TV is now exclusively used for watching important stuff like football, cartoons and documentaries for the kids) Even more importantly, I stopped hanging out at political forums. No FreeRepublic, DailyKos, Eschaton, or Red State. No more correcting somebody who was wrong on the internet. And then even harder, I steered clear when those topics would follow me to gaming forums, sports forums, and worst of all…Facebook.

I’ve watched friendships crumble over issues that will never affect either of the friends arguing over them. Seriously! If you’re going to throw away a friend, at least do it over something he or she did to YOU. It should at least be over something that happened in YOUR STORY. And I realized in many of those situations it could just as easily have been me.

And just as scary, some friends over time seem to only post on those things instead of anything to do with themselves. If you were going by their Facebook timeline, you would think that’s who they’ve become…an advertisement for a cause/position/party. They’ve flattened into a two dimensional agenda, where there used to be a living person.

I may be an introvert and a bit of a hermit, but I prefer people.

(switches to 3rd person perspective for the big finish)
So Nate’s opinions on the big debates are exclusively his business. He does not come to Facebook to validate or deny your opinion on abortion/gun control/religion or lack thereof/Obama/climate change/ or…God help us all…the Kardashians. He is not here to take sides. He values all his friends, from all parts of the political/social spectrum. On the other hand, he does pay attention to YOUR stories…pictures of your vacations, tales of your kids, reports of your triumphs, sagas of your failures, and photos of your projects.

These matter. Life is a personal thing.

Carry on.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Coming this Autumn


(interior cover artwork)


The rough draft is done, and the first copies are back from the proofreaders. Now I start working toward that first draft. Then the line editing shall begin!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Here It Comes!



Now available for pre-order at Amazon.com

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Things Progress and Art Takes Shape




Despite my recent blog inactivity, things have been moving along (albiet slowly)

As evidenced above, the cover for my upcoming re-release of The Ways of Khrem has evolved. The sky is now more natural and striking, and the added element of the tarantula hiding behind the title is sort of symbolic of the way Talanturos lurks in the background of the story's events. Even though he is only an active character in the first part of the book, he's always in the background...lurking.

At the moment, I'm sort of jumping back and forth between two projects. The first is trying to get The Ways of Khrem reformatted and the cover art finished so it can be released early next year. And the other is trying to move forward on my current novel project, Nightwalk, in hopes of having a first draft ready to edit by the time the kid's get out for summer break. I'm about 43,000 words into it so far.




This is the story of a man trying to get his stepdaughter to safety as his upper middle-class neighborhood goes dark and transforms into a monster-infested nightmare around him. The cover art above is "candidate one" although there were actually other ideas tried. This is just the first one I could actually live with. I'm sure I will try other variations after the manuscript is actually finished. But since this is a horror novel, the cover is formatted more in line with my other horror novels as opposed to the fantasy novel above.

I've learned that the real trick to making cover art is not to get to eager and go with my first idea. Sometimes it's better to set it aside and let things evolve a little.  But always hang on to your unused artwork because you never know when it might provide an element you can use later.

Ah well,...as I said, things progress. Due to it being Christmas, there are plenty of other things that demand my attention but I am moving forward.

So here's hoping you all have a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah out there! See you next year!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Monster in the Shadows





Last night, in a rite of passage of sorts, I celebrated the Halloween season by sitting down with my son and watching a horror movie.  After carefully weeding through the possibilities to eliminate the ones with nudity and other sexual content that us parents object to, I finally settled on John Carpenter’s, The Thing.

It’s an unusual movie in that it is actually scary, yet doesn’t contain a single female character (which means none of that aforementioned nudity). There’s blood and gore, but most young buys are more than capable of dealing with that. The language is a little rough, but if you’re going to watch a horror movie with your kid you have to make some concessions at some point. This ain’t Disney, after all.
Anyway, we both enjoyed the film and had a high old time pointing things out and eating popcorn.

But while I watched the film, I also found myself comparing it to the “prequel” that had been made only a year or two ago. That one hadn’t been too bad, (actually, it was better than I expected it to be) but this one was so much better. And as I realized that, I watched the film closer and tried to work out why.

Both movies were competently acted. And I will give the prequel credit for doing things to set up what was found in Carpenter’s movie with only a couple of objectionable exceptions.  Personally, I think if you are going to go that direction then it’s the writer’s duty to go ahead and nail it without leaving ANY big things that don’t fit. It wouldn’t have been that hard. But that was a personal quibble on my part and I don’t think it’s what made the “prequel” an inferior movie.

In the end, I think it all came back to the CGI. Now (full disclosure) I’m not a fan of CGI in most horror movies in the first place, but I’m not totally sure the CGI itself was the total problem here. The only VISUAL drawback I noticed with the CGI was that in comparison with the monster in Carpenter’s movie, the one in the prequel simply wasn’t as wet and slimy. There was also that feeling of “not really there” that I sometimes get with CGI as well, even when it is seamlessly done.

But the real problem wasn’t so much the CGI as the decisions it led the movie makers into making. CGI allowed them to have the monster rampaging through hallways and stalking people through rooms…therefore that’s what they did, and I think that was their mistake.

There are two types of monsters in monster movies. There are “monsters of the shadows,” that only appear from time to time out of the darkness or from offscreen (or in this case out of a person) and then do their thing and vanish…and then there are rampaging monsters who once they appear throw mystery to wind and go howling after their victims. (like the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, for instance).

So when the makers of The Thing chose to use their newfound ability to release the monster and have it storm through the station, they changed its very nature. Sure, it was still grisly and doing disgusting acts of morphology with the human body, but now it was a monster of the shadows that was out of its element. Now it was out in the open and having to keep topping its last act of being scary and disgusting, while being cast in role of a velociraptor hunting prey.

The end result were scenes that weren't a total failure because they had at least been competently done, but were nowhere near as effective as the scenes in Carpenter’s move simply because they had the monster doing something it was never really intended to do. It was acting against type.

And I think that matters, not with just movies, but with books as well. I think when we as authors write a monster book, we need to be very clear with ourselves what type of monster we are creating. That way we can be careful to use them to their best effect. Because as authors, we are faced with the same quandary that has been the downfall of many horror movies that have discovered the shiny new toy of CGI...

…just because we can do it, doesn’t necessarily mean we should.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What is it All About?

   


    At the moment, I’m kinda struggling with a novel I’m working on. I have a basic idea of what’s going to happen, and I have some rather potent and memorable scenes pictured. But at the same time, I’m having to stop and rethink the whole thing because I haven’t truly figured out what the novel is about. Knowing what the book is about goes a long way toward helping me write it. And what I’m talking about isn’t the surface plot and situation.

    For instance, Spiderstalk has giant spiders, superhuman mutants, and secret societies, but what it’s really about is a man who lost nearly everything finding himself and a reason to live again. Adam has given up, and only uses his brother’s disappearance as a crutch to keep going. His fixation on rescuing Tucker is authentic, but also serves the selfish purpose of motivating him forward. It’s only when he faces the Matriarch and truly has to decide who he is, that he finally makes a defining non-selfish choice that means he can now move forward with life as a better man.

    Dead Stop has graveyard zombies surrounding a truckstop and people fighting for their lives…but what it’s really about is Deke overcoming his self-doubt and illusions of other people, Rachel overcoming her grief and finding her way back to the things that made her strong, and Marisa finding the ability to allow herself to trust and lean on somebody else.

    Even Cargill from The Ways of Khrem has a character arc, as he initially and shamelessly makes all his decisions based on his own self-interest, but as the story unfolds he begins to get in touch with the past that hardened him and uses that as motivation to act in a way to set things right. He will always be cynical, sarcastic, and opportunistic, but at the same time he is adding dimensions that allows him to act on better impulses…even if reluctantly. (This novel should be republished this fall)

    A  novel is a story of a character, and losing sight of that is the prelude to a novel in trouble. So I’m backing up and rethinking my characters. It’s a delay, and may involve going back  and rewriting from an earlier point in the novel, but that’s okay. In the end it’s about the finished product, and giving the reader a journey that’s not only exciting, but has a little substance.


    Ah well, back to work.