Friday, December 28, 2012

28 Weeks Later - Re-viewed

"28 Days Later" and "28 Weeks Later," while not really zombie movies, get lumped in with the genre and that's okay with me.  Anyway, I just re-watched 28 Weeks Later for the first time since I originally saw it in the theater upon its original release.  So, here's my review of my re-view.

First, I'm a huge fan of "28 Days Later."  You need to know that.  So, it would be challenging for a sequel to match my expectations.  And it didn't.  But it still had its merits.

"28 Week Later" picks up where "28 Days Later" left off, only 28 Weeks Later amd that's probably one of my biggest contentions with the movie because the foundational premise is that London is being re-populated.  A plague as devastating as one that took place in the original movie would require a lot more time for officials to deem the area safe.  28 Months later would been more buyable.  But, you have to run with what they give you.

"28 Week Later" has a great introductory scene.  You get a real sense of the fear of this band of survivors and when they are beset upon my a horde of ragers, that fear gets amped up by an exponential level.  Upon reviewing the movie, I discovered that I had a lot more sympathy for the character that Robert Carlyle portrays.  It was the devil's choice he was given.

The movie moves at a frantic pace once it starts rolling.  The suspense leading up to the ball rolling is quite good also.

Let me say that the acting is first rate as is the production.  I had forgotten that Jeremy Renner was it and that was a nice surprise.  Rose Bryne also gives a great turn, but its Robert Carlyle and the two young actors that play his kids that steal the show.  They are very impressive.

My biggest qualms with the movie are with its script and most of that is with the premise but there are a couple unexplained implausibilities that occur that stretched the films credibility.

Despite this. I still enjoyed the film a great deal.  It's a great little thrill ride.

By the way, here's the trailer if you want to see it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiLQmDBQawE

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My First Amazon Self-Published Story

After planning for nearly a year about how to launch my self-publishing writing career, I finally took the first step.  I uploaded my story, Shutterbug, to Amazon for release to the Kindle.

Shutterbug is a story that has been caught in my head for over ten years. When I finally got it down on "paper," I was surprised at how fully realized it became.  And how long it turned out to be.  I always knew it would run long, but the first draft came in at just under 11,000 words!  Yeah, that's too long.  I worked and worked it and cut it down by nearly 2,000 words, but still, it was going to be a hard piece to market at 9,000 words.

So, with that in mind, I decided it would be a good candidate for self-publishing on Amazon.  But getting the story completed was the only first leg of my journey.  There was a lot more work to do before I could upload it.

First, I had to format it as an ebook.  My last effort at this didn't turn out all that well, but it was a novel.  This one went a lot better.  Still, it took a good two hours to get it ready.

Then I had to come up with a cover design.  Ever since I had written this story, I had some ideas in mind.  Since I have a decent working knowledge of Photoshop, I felt that I could take a stab at the cover.  (See image above.)  It didn't end the way I started and that's good because I think the end product is better than my original concept.  (Special thanks goes out to my brother's cohort in crime, Christina Paolucci, for helping with the photo.  Her skill and great wide angle lens helped make it happen.)

So, yesterday I did the deed and uploaded the story.  Then I learned that you had to wait at least 12 hours for it to"Go Live."  I was an anxious as could be.  You'd think I was having a baby.  Well, with fiction, each story is a child, in its way.

If you're interested in purchasing the story for a mere $.99, you can find it at:
http://www.amazon.com/Shutterbug-ebook/dp/B00AQ37C98/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355945178&sr=1-3&keywords=shutterbug


Monday, December 17, 2012

Staying Productive

I’m probably like a lot of writers, indie or otherwise, a working stiff trying to get writing in around a 40 hour a week job.  Plus a family and all the social obligations that come with that.  

I am fortunate to have a great job that is flexible, allowing me to get my writing in during the day; mostly first thing in the morning and over lunch.  It’s still a challenge and I feel guilty all the time.  I’m not getting enough done at work.  I’m not writing enough.  The dual needs can be overwhelming.  

When it comes to being an indie writer, it’s not all one dimensional, focused on putting characters on the blank screen, building sentences, paragraphs, and stories or novels.  It’s editing and revising.  It’s eFormatting books.  It’s promoting via blogging, Facebook, and any other outlet.  Plus there’s submitting if you write short stories like I do

Still, I beat myself up if I don’t having something new and original in the works.

One of favorite authors, Joe McKinney, wrote a great piece for The Horror Zine, discussing how he maintains his productivity while working a fulfilling job as a cop and also writing.  What he basically said is that you have to set goals, even modest ones, and be disciplined, yet flexible enough to stick with them.  His goal is 1,000 words a day.  I try to hit that, too, but sometimes I’m editing and revising without new and original output.  I’ll just have to accept that.  

Today, I felt like I didn’t do enough, but I got in 500 words on a novella I’m working on, put my first short story on Amazon, and did revisions on my novel based on feedback from my editor.  

One of the things I’m realizing is that I can’t beat myself up.  The past month or so I had this low level anxiety going on because I hadn’t had a short story accepted in a couple months.  It ate at me, so I dedicated my Friday writing time to making a real push at submitting some of my stories.  Within a week of that push, I had three stories picked up, one for flash fiction site which put the story up that day, one for another flash fiction site for next year, and one for an anthology.

Again, backing up to what Joe McKinney said, it’s about settings goals and discipline.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Writing to a Theme or Topic

About a month or so ago, I came upon Big Pulp's invitation for writers to submit to a themed collection with the theme being "The Kennedy Curse." I've never written a story from anything other than inspiration, but I decided to take on the challenge.

I could have decided to write a story about a man who discovers a way to travel in time and decides to go back in time to stop JFK's assassination, but Stephen King already beat me to that idea.

As for taking on a theme, I found it both daunting and exciting.  In most cases, I usually wait around for some sort of internal or external inspiration and when that hits, I'm ready to go.  For instance, my story, "The Touch," came to me at one of my daughter's marching band competitions.  I pulled out my phone and wrote out a couple sentences, then emailed them off to myself.  This story is set to be released in an upcoming Static Movement anthology titled, "Gifted."  So, I don't think I can count as to writing to a theme or specific topic.  I just happened to get lucky and my story fit the parameters of this specific anthology.

I can usually spit out a Flash or shorter stories in one sitting, but working with a theme challenged me.  For some reason, inspiration came more quickly than I expected, but before I could write, I had to do some research.  It turned out that this research helped me out a great deal when writing the story.  I was able to work in facts and then blend them into my fiction.

Anyway, I'm not going to spoil my story by giving away any details because while it is part horror (a ghost story), it also part mystery.  Being that it comes under the theme of the Kennedy Curse, I think many readers will start to catch on right away, but I think some might not.

If you have had to write to a theme or a topic, let us know how it went for you.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Getting Started

In the past two years, I have been diligently working to become the person that my eight year old self wanted to be when I grew up -- a writer. Yes, when other kids wanted to cops, firefighters, soldiers, or athletes, I was the one that wanted to be a writer. (Now, there was a time when if someone had dangled the starting centerfielder position for the Reds in front of me, I think I might have done it, but when you hit .237 in Little League, you're not destined for the majors.)

Over the past couple years, I've put in my time not only writing, but also studying the craft as well. I've sat at the alter of Stephen King and of Lawrence Block who are great teachers. (Check out King's "On Writing" or any of the instructional books that Block has authored.) And I think it's paid off -- at least some. Late in 2011, I got my first story published. It was a story I had written in the late 1990's but never took the time to try to get it published. It is titled "Home Schooling" and was released on the website A Twist of Noir. I am eternally grateful to Christopher Grant for not only publishing my story but for also providing me with the encouragement to proceed with my writing. There are far too many that want to dash the hopes of young writers.

I continued to work in my writing and got a second story published in March of 2012. It was a flash piece for a great crime flash fiction site, Shotgun Honey. The piece was titled "What You Don't Know."

I toiled at my first novel for over three years, released it to a set of beta-readers in late 2010 only to get resoundingly thrashed by their critical comments. A real learning lesson and one that I can say still stings. But what can I say? Should they have been kind and said nice things? Yes, I would have liked that, but it wouldn't have made me a better writer.

The secret, as it is with all things, is that you learn more from failure than you do with success. My lesson was learned.

Anyway, while I sulked in silence, I also decided to return to writing horror (which is something I hadn't done for over 20 years) and found some immediate success. Or near immediate success. I got about 5 rejections and 4 no responses before Jeanie Rector at The Horror Zine accepted my story, "The Dark Child." Now, I can tell you, of all the experiences I've had with any of the editors at any of the outlets I've submitted pieces to, this was the most gratifying and instructional. Jeani worked my story (as she does with all the stories) and made it better what I submitted.

Anyway, I write this initial piece to tell aspiring writers that if you stick with it, you'll find success. Does that mean riches? No. I haven't made a dime yet, but I write because I want to and sometime because I have to.