So, the 2014 Bram Stoker Awards have been announced. Yep. They have. Holy crap. Seriously. Holy crap.
That’s pretty crazy. Honestly, I never thought this novel would end up on a Final Ballot. It was a novel that my former agent tried to shop around, but couldn’t find a home for. When it was picked up by Permuted Press, it was bundled in a contract with my YA zombie novel Little Dead Man and my forthcoming middle grade scifi/horror series (think Goosebumps meets the Scooby Gang in deep space) ScareScapes. I knew it would be published, but the focus was more on LDM and ScareScapes than on IH.
Not to say I didn’t think IH was a great novel. It has always been a personal novel for me. It hits that John Green meets Stephen King note. Lots of teen angst with plenty of good, old fashioned spooky horror. And gore. Plenty of gore. Plus, because it’s a Jake Bible novel, a nice smattering of snarky humor. I can’t help but bring the humor, even in a dark novel that’s full of horrible parents, abuse, alcoholism, bullying, neglect, love, strength, passion, and Good vs Evil.
Now, with all that said, I am in a bit of a quandary. What the hell do I do with this honor? I’ve never been on a final ballot before. I’ve been in prelims, but those are usually chock full of recommendations from fans, readers, writers. It those long lists that the finals are chosen from. I have now been chosen and I have no idea what to do.
I’ve updated my bios to say “Bram Stoker Award nominated-novelist”, but when dealing with a trillion different websites in this social mediapalooza reality, I know I have missed approximately 999 billion websites. Too much to keep up with, yo!
Okay, so bios updated (maybe) and I have tweeted and done some FB posts. Now what? Do I contact my local bookstore? Would they care? Do I put out a pres release? Is that over the top? Do I try to capitalize on this by promoting the shit out of this novel? Will that do more harm than good? Do I just keep my trap shut and be all humble and suppress the “Holy shit I’m nominated for a Bram Stoker!” feeling that’s coursing through my veins?
What the hell do I do?
The short answer: I do not know. The long answer: I do not know.
I’m sure there is some sort of etiquette to this whole thing. I just don’t know where to find that etiquette. It’s always prudent to follow the mantra of better to keep your mouth shut and look the fool than to open your mouth and prove it. Lord knows I have done plenty of proving it in my writing career.
But, if I keep my mouth shut then am I missing a golden opportunity? Am I passing up a chance that may not come again?
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! I DON’T KNOW!
This is the problem with being successful enough to write for a living, but not successful enough to be in the inner circles of the publishing biz. I’m kinda on my own here.
So, for now I’m going to sit on this, let it marinate in my brainpan, and just enjoy the honor. I’ll watch other more experienced authors that have been nominated and see how they act. Sure, lots of them have publishing juggernauts behind them, but I can at least emulate their cool, if not their marketing reach. Best to play it safe, right?
Shit, I’m more confused at the end of this post than I was at the beginning.
Oh, well, no one said it would be easy being a writer. In fact, everyone says it’s hard as hell. I guess this is one of those moments. Huh.
Shit, I need a drink…
But, one last thing, thank you to everyone that has supported me over the years. I do know that I would never have made it this far without all of you! I never say it enough, but y’all rock!
Let the Party begin!
As you read this I will have just seen American Sniper (or still seeing it, depending on your time zone). I am now an expert sniper. You all have crosshairs on you. DON’T EVEN TRY TO RUN!
Just kidding. WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
So, who’s up for a drabble?
Speaking of drabbles, looks like Dead Mech is on sale for $.99! Go get that. DO IT! STOP RUNNING!
Onto the micro-fiction!
That Explains It
“Wind is sixty-five knots.”
“That’s really fast.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“Can we slow the wind down?”
“Can we slow it down? Maybe to twenty knots?”
“Uh, no. It’s the wind. We have no control-.”
“In the simulations you can slow it down.”
“This isn’t a simulation.”
“So? What does that have to do with anything?”
“Do you understand how weather works?”
“Sure. If you don’t like it then change it. Or go somewhere else.”
“How the holy hell did you get this job?”
“My dad bought me the commission.”
“That explains it.”
“So…about the wind?”
Disclaimer: YOU CAN NEVER RUN FAR ENOUGH!
Oh, yeah, baby! Friday the 13th!
Gotta love it when a Drabble Party lands on a high holy day of horror!
Okay, sorry, the booyah may have been a bit much. Know what’s not much? 100 words of micro-fiction!
But before we get to the delicious drabbleness, I want to remind everyone that Z-Burbia 5: The Bleeding Heartland is available in ebook and print forms. Have a look at the cover, I think it is the perfect book for you to read while more winter storms and snow hits the US. Shit be cold out there, yo!
Now, on to the drabble!
Ice and snow.
That was all Alan could see as he pushed his legs to keep moving. He focused on the horizon, making that his goal even though he knew it was unreachable.
“The ship is still waiting,” he said through chattering teeth. “It was supposed to stay until Thursday. We have one day to get there before they leave.”
When Rebecca didn’t answer, he glanced to his left, shocked to see he was alone.
Yet he didn’t stop. To do so would mean dying in minutes. And he didn’t escape the nightmare behind him just to freeze to death.
Disclaimer: Baby, it’s cold outside.
It’s the first Drabble Party of February!
This has zero significance, but I am a sucker for any reason to use an exclamation point!
Sooooo, how’s y’all doin’? Ready for 100 words of pure magic? I know you are!
Nothing Ever Good
They were dragging him. They were dragging him through the wet grass and across the field. That he knew.
He tried to roll his head to the side to see who had him by his left arm, but the paralytic, he assumed it was a paralytic, wouldn’t relinquish control, so his head merely hung backwards, the back of his skull bonking across the clods of earth and grass.
Chanting or singing or incanting or whatever began and he knew he was totally screwed.
Nothing good ever came from chanting or singing or incanting or whatever.
Then he felt the flames.
Disclaimer: Careful what you drink.
The idea is what starts it all. Without the idea then the project never happens. Every novel or story has to have that spark, that catalyst that drives the creation of the work. Without the idea you are flying blind. (Unless flying blind is the idea, but that’s a whole other post).
So…where does the idea come from?
Good question. For you? I have no idea (see what I did there?). For me? Read on!
Everyone’s idea generator (available at Home Depot for $99.99 after rebate) is different. Some folks wake up in the middle of the night and write it down only to get up the next day with zero recollection of the nocturnal inspiration. Some get inspired by other works or by the Muse (available at Pier One Imports for $35.99 plus tax). Many struggle through several variations on a theme of an idea until the final one solidifies. Others it just “comes” to them fully formed. And drugs. Let’s not forget drugs. Each artist is different.
For me, I tend to get my ideas right before bed. They slam into my semi-awake head and I write them down. I always write them down! There is nothing more disappointing than knowing you had a great idea the night before but can’t figure out what it was. I actually had that happen a couple weeks ago. I wrote down the title, without any description, then had no idea the next day what the actual meat of the idea was. Bummer.
Now, pre-sleepytime ideas are not my only source of inspiration. I’ll have conversations with friends and they’ll be talking about something unrelated to horror or scifi and my brain will latch on and say, “Huh. What if blah blah was actually blah blah?” Many times I get blank, but polite, stares. Sometimes I get head nods. Every once in a while I get the “you should totally do that” high five. Hell, I have an idea right now that will probably become a series next year that I got from a friend. He had an idea, gave it to me, and I fleshed it out and will be running with it! Yay for friends!
Oh, and don’t start whining about “being original” because that is bullshit. There hasn’t been an original idea since man started telling stories around the cave fire. And even back then the stories were probably handed down by our alien overlords that seeded the planet. Derivative is fine, as long as it is good and it is marketable.
And, being in the scifi/horror/thriller genre, which are all pretty derivative, I have been known to get my ideas by mashing up two or three other ones into a new form that hasn’t been done before.
Case in point: Dead Mech (available on Amazon for $2.99).
When I got the idea for Dead Mech, I was watching TV and the Transformers 2 commercial came on. Regardless of your opinion of the franchise, those freakin’ robots are pretty awesome. Seeing those guys led my brain to connect to the old MechWarrior and BattleTech games that I never played, but always wanted to. Gundam probably hopped in my noggin as well. Those thoughts instantly melded with my desire to write a zombie novel, but in a way that hadn’t been done before. Bing, bang, boom, a few seconds later it all coalesced into the idea of what would happen if a mech pilot died in his/her mech and turned into a zombie. Dead Mech was born!
Other times the ideas come from outside sources. Take Z-Burbia, for instance. My publisher, Severed Press, wanted a “straight up, Romero-esque” zombie series. My first reaction was that it had been done so much there was no way I could bring anything new to it. Then the “write what you know” adage smacked me upside my head and I realized that the beauty of Romero is that he is commenting on the American Way, using zombie horror as almost satire. Dawn of the Dead was set in a mall to mock consumerism. What if I set my series in the same type of suburban subdivision I lived in and mocked the pointless crap that goes with that?
Bam! Z-Burbia, baby!
Mega (available at Amazon for $2.99)? How did I get the idea for Mega? Again, Severed Press wanted some deep sea thrillers and sea monster horror novels. Giant, prehistoric sharks are always a good fit for that kind of stuff. But, I didn’t just want the same old “scientist finds shark, shark eats everyone until scientist kills shark” novel. (For the record, despite some of Mega’s reviews, I have never read MEG by Steve Alten. Didn’t know it existed until well after I wrote the first Mega novel and saw it mentioned in a review).
Again, as with Dead Mech, I decided to meld genres. I took the giant shark, deep sea horror novel, and mixed it with the elite team of badass fighters novel. Team Grendel was born. Why did I go that route? Because I saw how successful the elite team stuff was for authors like Jonathan Maberry and Jeremy Robinson, just to mention a couple. I turned a horror novel into an action adventure thriller novel and it has certainly paid off.
This brings up another way to get ideas: the charts. No, seriously. If you aren’t sure what to write, but are burning to write something, then look at the bestseller charts on Amazon. See what is selling there and if anything piques your interest then go for it!
Which leads me to my last part about ideas: it’s okay to think of marketing. I have dozens and dozens of ideas for novels, but only a couple are worth pursuing. For me, there is zero point in wasting my time writing a novel if I don’t think it will sell. And I’m not talking about it selling to a publisher, I’m talking about it selling to readers. Because that’s what really matters.
Think of it like this: you’re a chef and you have an amazing idea for a dessert. You know it will be delicious, you know once folks try it they will be blown away. Only problem is it is banana cheddar spinach pudding. It may be the most awesome pudding ever made in the history of awesome puddings, but no human being is going to order that off the menu. Same goes for novel ideas. Thinking of marketability is totally cool.
Are there more ways to get ideas? Hell yes! The ethereal idea machine hovers above us all and drops little nuggets constantly in an infinite number of ways. The trick is to tune your senses to pick up those nuggets. Just like the act of writing, the act of generating ideas takes practice and patience. You have to be willing to churn out some crap ideas before you find that golden nugget. And it is okay to churn out crap as long as you keep on churning!
Still don’t know how to get an idea for your breakthrough novel? Then maybe that is the idea in of itself right there. Think on that for a second and see where it takes you. You never know what you will find in the most unlikely of places. The real point is that ideas come from everywhere and eventually, as long as you don’t quit, “your” idea will happen!