Monday, June 25, 2012

Two down, Three to go

Well I was NOT tagged in the latest Facebook chain letter 7/7/7, but in celebration of finishing my latest short story for the upcoming Spy World from Metahuman Press...

RULES
Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
Go to line 7.
Post on your blog or Facebook the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are--no cheating.
(And then tag 7 more writer friends, though I'm pretty sure they've all done this by now).

...

Three shots roared through the quad, followed by two muted cracks. Cement chipped the walkway around Brody's feet. The Glock blasted once more before two silenced shots evoked a choked off cry and the thump of a body hitting sod.

Regina watched from behind her cover and stared at Brody's still form, making a terrified sound that mostly sounded like her lover’s name. She eventually managed to tear her eyes away from the bullet hole in his head.

She heard the sound of footsteps in the grass.

...

Now on to Supernatural West.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fantasy Meets Reality

Bouncing off a round table that my buddy Sean Taylor did about a week ago, The Story Behind Urban Fantasy. It got me to thinking about the stories I watched/read growing up, and the stuff that would eventually inspire me to actually try telling these stories myself.

One of the first books I remember cracking open as a child was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I was mesmerized by a world populated by magic creatures and witches and talking animals presented as if it were REAL.  No hoaky, kiddie, cartoony gimmicks.  No singing.  This was a real world where a bunch of kids actually went and battled evil.

I also grew up watching cartoons, natch.  In particular I remember kind of hating Scooby Doo (while sitting glued to this opium for kids every day), thinking how lame it was that every case had to be some stupid old guy playing tricks with fake ghosts and stage magic and whatnot.  Why couldn't they fight real monsters dammit?  Guess the creative geniuses at Hanna Barbera thought that would have been too silly. -_-

THIS was the Scooby Doo I wanted to see.
But that's how it was for the first roughly two decades of my life.  Creators of the time couldn't seem to bring themselves to mix elements of fantasy or the supernatural into the real world without portraying it as a comedic spoof.  There were a few good attempts, mostly in the horror genre, but they were VERY few and far between.

Except for comic books, the one medium where writers had no constraints.

Eventually Hollywood got crap like Once Bitten out of their systems.  Lost Boys and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while still campy, were starting to reveal shades of what we were looking for.  That was fine and all for vampires, but in fantasy, we had Highlander, aaaand... Highlander.

Cover of "Once Bitten"
We've come so far.
Well it turns out a lot of other kids growing up around the same time were thinking the same thing.  They didn't think that the notion of bringing worlds together was only good for laughs.  Fantasy had been stuck in the medieval setting long enough.

Amazing scribes like Laura K Hamilton and Jim Butcher picked up on what Mercedes Lackey had been throwing down and at long last a genre had evolved: Urban Fantasy.  Over in TV Land, Joss Whedon took the cue to transform his parody concept into something fans outside the cult could appreciate, and the floodgates opened on the small screen and especially on bookshelves, where Charlene Harris, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, and a legion of great talent came to play in the new sandbox.

(From left to right) Paul Blackthorne, Valerie...Urban Fantasy has everything that I want.  It's recognized as its own genre, but it's a cross-genre by definition.  It can be a pulp, a mystery, an action thriller, a romance.  It can invoke vampires, demons, faeries, dragons, magic, sword fights between immortals, or a wizard who packs a .44 Magnum.  No limits besides your own imagination.  I wish it hadn't taken this long to come into it's own, but all in all it was worth the wait.
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back to the Beginning -- Pulps

executioner 110: trojan horse
So after floundering for a decade in my half-assed attempt at a writing career, I find myself following the call to write pulp fiction.  It's like I've come full circle, creatively speaking.

I was telling Ron Fortier today at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Con about how I first knew I wanted to be a writer was when I was twelve.  And the stuff I was reading back then, the books that first inspired me, was Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan.  More specifically my favorites of the series were the ones ghost written by Stephen Mertz.

By the time I got into it, the war on the Mafia era was over and The Executioner had become a paramilitary spy thriller.  But it was still a modern day pulp; balls out, wall-to-wall action with a hard assed hero who was anything but a saint -- but still unmistakably a hero.  Those are the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.

But I got sidetracked by life, as so many of us do.  Flash forward to today.  I'm 60,000 words into my first novel (based on the original plot notes of a story I started when I was 12).  I had every intention of writing it as a pulp, but I end up creating so dense a backstory that it becomes more of a crime drama.  I'm still happy with it, but when you go more than three chapters without a gun going off or someone getting slugged, it just ain't a pulp.

Pulp 1
Meanwhile I am seeing a revival of sorts in the "genre" (style, theme, genre, whatever).  They never really died, but there are certainly a hell of a lot more of them these days then I remember seeing ten years ago, when Grown-Up Lance first started thinking seriously about writing.

And not just detectives and spies.  There's urban fantasy, jungle adventure, explorers.  And hot chicks.  Lots and lots of hot chicks.  Hell even Zorro's a chick now, apparently.  I'm all about girl power.  Strong female characters are the best to write.

Then out of nowhere, I am invited to contribute to a superhero pulp anthology.  Talk about the best of both worlds for a comic book fan.  It was fun, and definitely got the creative juices flowing.

So now I've got a writing sample.  Not an unfinished fanfiction.  An honest-to-golly (soon to be) published story with my name on it.  With that sample I got another gig, and the way recent conversations have gone, I think I'm actually going to get a couple more.

Here's the kicker.  I spoke to a couple independent publishers about my writing style and without me even asking(!!) they tell me they are looking for contributors.  I ask if they can send me a story bible of their character/setting.  They say sure!  Wai-Wha?  Just like that.  I've been banging my head against the wall for ten frickin years in the comics world with little more than a "good luck kid".

There is an adage that society does not let you really succeed until you're 40.  Although I am surrounded by exceptions to that rule, perhaps I am evidence of it being true for the rest of us.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting Back in the Saddle

It's been three years since I remembered I had a blog. And boy is the last thing I posted telling. Here I was running a business, and I only considered that one announcement blog worthy. Because truthfully, it was.

The four years I spent trying to make a go of the distribution business were hands down the roughest years of my life. Not because the work was hard. No, that stretch of my life was rough due to the perpetual crap ton of drama I had to deal with. I put on a good front with customers but I kept interviews and PRs to a minimum because I couldn't bring myself to lie and pretend everything was great when it was anything but.

Literally every. single. time something good happened that promised growth for the company, or when I came home revitalized from an exciting con, there would be my so called business partner ready and eager to shoot me down.

That wasn't the case this year after C2E2. There's always been something invigorating about going to comic conventions. I don't go so much as a fan anymore, but I love meeting pros, seeing new projects, and just being immersed in comics culture. And this year when the con was over, I was still holding into the buzz. Two days later I'm still optimistic about the opportunities I came across this weekend. It's kinda surreal.

So God willing this is the start of my journey back out of my shell.  It was getting kinda smelly in there.