Friday, August 26, 2011

Bring Back Skully!

The current arc of X-Men kicked off this week with #16. The very cool guest stars are Sue and Reed Richards and the Thing and other members of The FF. But the bonus guest star is SKULL THE SLAYER a cool, pulpy character from the 1970s. I wish Marvel would let me write the further adventures of Skully. It would be a blast. Or if somebody else wrote it, I'd be happy to read it. I read a fistful of SKULL THE SLAYER comics to get a grip on the Scorpius Dimension for the current X-MEN run, and they were just cool and crazy and pulpy. Any other closet Skully fans out there?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writing Advice about Writing Advice

Go to the blog of any writer, and chances are you'll find some advice about writing or a list of dues and don'ts, whatever. Once a writer achieves a certain level of success, they can't stop themselves telling you how to do it. You'll notice there isn't a lot of that here at Blogpocalypse. Hey, I used to teach writing at various colleges and whatnot? Shouldn't I be sharing my wisdom? What a selfish bastard I am.

The fact is I don't share any writing advice here for a few reasons. First, I don't want to bore the crap out of you people. The best writing advice is usually pretty basic stuff. Which means you've probably heard it a thousand times already. The other reason is that other writers on other blogs are already doing a better job giving advice, so you don't need it here.

So I've decided on a twist. Here is some writing advice ... about writing advice.

1. Write what you know. We've all heard this gem. The problem with this is ... what if you don't know jack shit? People, I know a LOT about sipping coffee in my boxer shorts and watching golf on TV. I'm an expert at it. But I'm not sure that would make much of a novel. (If you disagree, Dutton, make me an offer.) So obviously you need to get out in the world and know some shit. Live life. Explore. If you want to write what you know, then start filling your brain with stuff to tap into. This advice should really be DON'T write what you DON'T know. If your novel takes place in Prague then go there or at least hit the library and come home with a stack of research. Yes, you can fake it. I've done that too. But faking it can only get you so far. Also, some people think "write what you know" means certain topics are off limits. They're not. You just have to educate yourself.

2. Sit your ass down and write. This I actually agree with, but what bothers me about this advice is that it is so obvious I find it hard to believe anyone needs to be told this. It amounts to "pull down your pants before you sit on the toilet." Yes! We know! This should not be called advice. It should be called DUH.

3. Rules for writing. I flinch when people refer to "rules" for writing. There are no rules. When you go to a writing class, you are not learning "rules." When someone refers to rules, they are simply telling you good strategies that mostly work most of the time. That's not the same as a "rule." Even punctuation is up for grabs. Ever read Faulkner? Yeah. Name any rule you want, and a good writer will know how to break it or get around it or flat out ignore it. "Your first person protagonist must be alive at the end; otherwise, who is telling the story?" Fuck you. "Your protagonist must be sympathetic." Fuck you sideways.

4. Lists like this. Total bullshit. I'm obviously procrastinating.

5. Real writers write every day. Tell that to spouses and kids who actually expect you to engage with them now and then. Real writers would like to write every day. (And maybe that's not even true.) But just because your a special, creative, precious writer doesn't mean your off the hook from the other stuff that demands space in your life.

6. Carry a pad and pen with you at all times to jot down those great ideas. If you can't remember, then they're not so great. Anyway, just e-mail it to yourself with your smart phone.

7. Process. That word officially has no meaning. All the crazy crap you do to juggle your schedule and bust your ass to make a deadline is way too chaotic to call a "process." It's just survival. Here is my"process": Pour coffee. Start writing. Interviewers, please never ask me about my process again.

8. If you stick your thumb up your ass, it will help focus your ideas. What? You never heard that one? That's because I just made it up. Stop looking for "tricks" to get you writing. Writing is work. You do it, you sweat, you revise and you keep busting your ass.

So what am I missing? Let's hear what sort of writing advice you've been given and what you think about it.

Update: If you're going to give writing advice, then THIS is how you do it. Even if some of it might be advice you've heard before, you've never heard it delivered in this way. Nice one, Chuck.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Because I want your money is why!

I was talking with my family the other day, and Three on A Light came up in conversation. It's the collection of stories I wrote a long, long time ago. Two small presses wanted to publish it and folded before that could happen. So I put it on the Kindle and the Nook. My wife has always been a fan of this collection of linked short stories about a hardboiled shamus who takes on cases involving werewolves, vampires, witches, etc. In my opinion, the stories show the signs of "an author's early work" so I've never really pushed hard to sell a lot of copies.

But once in a while I feel the need to remind everyone it exists. For .99 cents I feel it's a pretty good deal. So go buy it RIGHT HERE. Because I want your money. Give it a try. Come on, you bargain hunters. Pony up.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Self revealing office cleanup party

Ten minutes into cleaning up (cleaning out?) my office, I knew it would result in a blog post. Maybe there is just something in the air because it seems like THIS GUY is also jettisoning some old baggage.

First, a little bit about my office. It really is more like a workshop. But I would chop off my own hands or something with anything resembling a tool, so I've put a desk out there, a computer, a DVD player and a TV.

And junk. Lots of damn junk. When we moved in, all the boxes of crap we didn't want to bring into the house went out into the workshop/office. I could have thrown that shit away in Oklahoma, but I thought it would be really clever to haul it all to Louisiana, let it sit around a few years and THEN throw it away. Because I'm an idiot, that's why.

I found a cool picture of my signing at a small book store in Oklahoma. It was when the UglyTown edition of Gun Monkeys first came out. I had long hair and was skinny. (Okay, not "skinny" but not the fatass I am today.)

I also found a stack of Ian Flemming paperbacks. My wife's. I've never read a Bond novel. I prefer the films because in the novels you have to hum the theme music yourself. I found copies of the French edition of The Pistol Poets. I never really caught on in France. I found a stack of 45 records. (Pet Shop Boys?) I threw them away to prove I am not a hoarder. I found a bunch of grad school books which I kept so I could put them on my shelf in my campus office when I became a big shot professor at a large university. (HAHAHAHAHA!)

I also found a very old, cheap journal that printed one of my poems. I read the poem. I then ripped up the journal into six thousand pieces, assuring it could never be reassembled.

People change. I can't imagine why I kept some of the papers I tossed out. I can't quite picture the person I used to be. I have no idea when I'll be like in ten years. I don't plan to spend too much time dwelling on it.

I do plan to spend more time in my office now. Man cave. Fort Gischler.