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Three quick things

September 18, 2012

Hey–like the title says. Three quick things:

1) This entire website is being revamped. I’m hoping to shift to the new, Weebly-powered site in a week or two, once I put the finishing touches on it. It’s purty.

2) Fun stuff happening with the new writings–the play, Grave Lullaby, is cast and has begun rehearsals. The new website will have a dedicated page where I’ll post pics and short videos. Potentially exciting stuff on the Charley Cross front as well, but not the sort I can share with you yet.

3) I’ve got two October events scheduled with the Bismarck Downtown Artist Cooperative: on Oct. 12th we’ll be screening both Cornerboys and The House of the Yaga as a Halloween extravaganza. Ali LaRock and I both will be there. And on the 19th I’ll be doing a fiction reading in front of a creepy, Halloween open mic. Come on out and enjoy.

More stuff later. Just that stuff now.

A Nation of Geeks

July 11, 2012

Hi folks

I’ve been in a sort of enforced blogginating silence, as I’ve been spending computer time working diligently on two projects which have deadlines I’d like to keep. Charley Cross and The London Dead, which I’ve been working on for quite a while, is rounding the corner into the final stretch, and hopefully I’ll make the self-imposed deadline and get it drafted, revised, and off to agents by mid-September or so.

I’m also making headway on the play, which has a real, outside deadline. I’ll be holding auditions soon after school starts in late August, so it’s got to be finished by then. I’m about forty pages in, or little under half-way. The working title is “Gravestone,” but since that’s stupid I’m sure I’ll change it. So far, we’ve had some creepy teddy bears. And runaway girls. And nosy neighbors. And possibly the ghost of a baby.

I have a lovely little writing room in the new house, and it’s a real pleasure to work on these new things here. So, I should be writing those things and not yakking at you.

BUT–I wanted to make sure I caught you up on a couple of things. The biggest is that both of the films that Kevin, Ali, and I made are now being featured on the new extravaganza clearing-house for all things awesome: GeekNation. I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a mercy table with Clare Kramer (Buffy and a host of other cool shows/films) at last year’s Valley Con, and after seeing our films she invited us to be part of the new site she was launching. That site was GeekNation, and as a result, you can now check out Cornerboys and House of the Yaga over there. We’re in pretty spectacular company. If you don’t believe it, spend some time looking around the site. For a geek like myself (especially a Buffy/Firefly/Dollhouse geek) it’s pretty cool to be amongst the folks featured there. We’re uptown, y’all.

Other things coming up–nearly a year after being accepted, my story “Dark Gonna Catch Me Here” will be in the July issue of Weird TalesAnd “Singing by the Fire,” a ghost story with rattlesnakes, will be all over the place this October; it’s going to in an anthology called Hunting Ghosts from Black Oak Media, and on October 5th will be featured on Pseudopod, the horror podcast.

And if you missed it, my story about the horrors of middle school, “How Jordy Went,” is in the Summer edition of the cool online ‘zine Mirror Dance.

So that’s what’s going on. I’ll pop back in soon to give you some updates on progress. If I tell you, it keeps me working. Here’s a picture of my new house.

Front left in the writing room. Walk by, and I’ll wave.

Goblins in Strasbourg, or, Cornerboys Goes to France

June 16, 2012
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Robyn Cnockaert

This is my lovely friend Robyn. I met Robyn in 1999 while we were both in the masters program at Western Carolina. She was a member of a writing group with me (along with Typecast founder Jen Woods, poets Brian Henderson and Chris Boss, and others), the only real successful writing group I’ve been involved with. Robyn is Scottish, but lives in France since marrying a charming son of that country, our friend and fellow WCU alum Benoit. She teaches in an international high school near Strasbourg.

This year Robyn built an entire unit around Cornerboys. She taught Goblin Market, and talked about how inspiration leads to creativity, except she said it more cleverly. Over the course of eight months or so, the students read the Cornerboys poem and then watched the film, sent email questions to Kevin, Ali, and I, and finally created 3+ page magazine articles about Cornerboys and the creative process.

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Students working on Cornerboys projects

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Some of the final projects

 

 

 

 

 

 

A week ago Friday, the class chose the top three projects, and Robyn emailed them to me for judging. The prizes were Cornerboys art prints and buttons sent by Ali LaRock. I spent the weekend reading them and chose a winner. They had an awards ceremony this Thursday. I skyped in to the classroom on Thursday morning and talked with some of the students about the projects and answered questions about our films. (I didn’t skype into the awards ceremony, ’cause it was at 3am my time. France starts early).   I have to say this is the coolest thing that Cornerboys has been involved in. The film team felt very honored and humbled to have these bright and talented students across the ocean spending so much time thinking about and responding to our work. Thanks, Robyn! And thanks to the students in her English class!

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A student using this very website!

Playing Around in Creepsville

April 29, 2012

Feeling dramatic in Much Ado About Nothing, 2007

In the past three years I’ve published a novel, an edition of a Victorian vampire story, two academic essays (with a possible third coming up), and a fistful of short fiction and poetry. I’ve also written and narrated two short horror films and made plans for a third. I’m currently over halfway through my next novel, and have plot sketches for two more laid out. I’m working on an essay about Charles Dickens and Joe Strummer which I’m hoping to finish this month. So, obviously, looking at the level of production I’ve put myself under over the past thirty-six months, the natural question that arises is this: why haven’t I written a play?

I love theatre, have a degree in it actually, and even though acting is fun (see pic at left), I always preferred directing. I got to direct The Importance of Being Earnest at UMary in 2008, and it was loads of fun. I haven’t done that since, due to various other commitments, but I’m up for it again this year. I’ll be directing the fall theatre production at UMary, and I can’t wait.

Me with the cast of Earnest, 2008

So what to direct? I had a blast working with the highbrow silliness of Wilde, and then spent a while writing a novel steeped in a very similar type of silliness. I want to go in another direction with this production, and those who know me will know there’s really only one other place to go: creepsville.

There’s a dearth of creepy plays, unfortunately. I’ve looked at several good ones (Wait Until Dark, The Woman in Black, Transylvanian Clockworks, The Haunting of Hill House, Macbeth), but none of them quite fit the bill for a variety of reasons. I may direct Woman in Black or Hill House in the future, if the university ever improves its theatre space (which was designed by folks who clearly never did theatre or music). For now though, I gonna write my own.

So that’s a heads up. I’ll probably be occasionally talking about the play here, working through important process issues like “why did I think I could write a play?” And important technical issues like “how can I make the walls bleed in a believable manner?”

The production will go up in November. So the summer will involve finishing the next novel (Charley Cross and the London Dead, presently a little over half done) and writing a play. The play is sketched out already, inspired by a small but unsettling event that happened to my wife and I a decade ago. It has been embellished beyond that small event into something that doesn’t resemble me or my family at all (thank Dickens), but instead is about loneliness, alienation, dead children, lost graves, real estate, and the things you can find at the bottom of a river. No title yet, but some pun on the word “grave” is likely. My hope is that the whole thing feels like the video for a Tom Waits song directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Or at least that it doesn’t suck. Stay tuned.

Yaga Marching

March 23, 2012

She'd love to have you for dinner some time...

Quick update on some YAGA related stuff–

House of the Yaga played at the Nevermore Horror Film Festival in Durham, NC in February. Composer Kevin Smith was there represent, and so he got firsthand notice that we WON: the audience chose House of the Yaga as Best American Short Film. We’re really honored by this, because it was audience-chosen and because we were up against some really great films.

We’ll also be screening in Bismarck on Friday, March 30th as part of the first annual Dakota Digital Film Festival. Both Ali LaRock and I will be there to answer questions about the film. This is a great new festival run by Dakota Media Access. They’re hoping to make it a recurring thing, so come out and support them. Full-day passes are $15, which is an insane low price for a festival. I’ll be emceeing the first part of the day, but don’t let that stop you.

Also–by request from the DDFF, we’re taking Yaga down on this site and making the YouTube version private until after the festival next Friday. It will go back up for public viewing once the festival’s over.

Hopefully more news to come. Yaga is just getting started.

WINNERS!

February 28, 2012

Hi everybody–

I’m very excited to announce the winners of the Barking Mad blog tour giveaways!

First, the special giveaways that ran on indiviual blogs on various days.

  • Winner of a signed copy of Barking Mad: Tiffany Mahaffy!
  • Winner of an audiobook copy of Barking Mad: Deb (no last name given)!
  • Winner of a signed set of four character cards: Bonnie Regan!

Congrats to each of you! You’ll be getting an email with more info, and your prizes will be in the mail forthwith!

And now, the winner of the GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE (I’m using my best Don Pardo voice here). The prize package includes a signed copy of Barking Mad, a signed set of four character cards (1 each of Mimsy, Pelham, Arabella, and Reggie), an audiobook copy of Barking Mad, a signed poster with a quote from the novel, AND a DVD copy of my short film Cornerboys, signed by me and artist Ali LaRock. It looks like this:

Can you believe the werewolfy goodness on display here?

There were nearly five hundred entries over the course of the three week tour. And the winner is:

CAITLIN AUDET of Orlando, Florida!!!!

( cheers, stamping feet, confetti, airhorns, dancing elves)

Congratulations, Caitlin! I’ll be putting the prize package into the mail with my own hot little hands right away. And thanks to everyone who participated in the tour.  And BIG BIG thanks to Kismet Book Touring, and Heather and Danny, the two guiding angels over there. It was a glorious three-week celebration of Reggie and everything that goes with him. It’s been the highlight of my year so far.

“Spring” Break

February 27, 2012

It’s spring break at the university where I teach. In typical North Dakota fashion, this means that the long-delayed winter (it’s been freakishly warm here for most of the winter months) has finally arrived. It’s -2 right now, and though that’s still mild for ND, it is much colder than it’s been. And the snow is here. I don’t mind it really–I like the snow and the unseasonal warmth felt weird–I merely point out the continuing use of the misnomer by the university in calling this hiatus anything to do with spring.

The blog tour is over. We’ll be announcing the winners of the grand prize package and the three smaller giveaways right here at some point tomorrow. We had nearly five hundred entries, which is nice, and lots of good comments, reviews, and new fans, which is even better. I’ll thank them properly tromorrow, but just know that there can’t be enough good things said about Heather and Danny at Kismet Book Touring. Friendly, efficient, and professional. They’ve got a Goodreads group you should check out.

Writing updates:

I took a month-long break from work on the next novel in order to write two academic essays which were under contract deadline. Douglas Adams once said that he loved deadlines; he enjoyed the “whooshing” sound they make when they zoom past. He’s not wrong. I did get my essays in, and only a few days late each. One is on the parallels between Carmillaand the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In, and one is on the intersection of steampunk and hip-hop in Professor Elemental’s The Indifference Engine. The Professor Elemental essay will be in a collection called Steaming Into the Victorian Future, coming out later this year from Scarecrow Press. I’m not sure of the publisher of the vampire collection, called The Ultimate Vampire and appearing, I believe, in two volumes. I’ll let you know the details when I get them.

So I’m jumping back into writing fiction. I’m waiting to get feedback from a reader on the first half of Charley Cross, and in the meantime I’m revising an older novella for a collection of short fiction that should be out later this year. This will pull together eight or nine stories, some previously published and some not, along with a few poems and other pieces of what-not. Late summer or early autumn, most likely, is when this’ll be available. It will most likely be available only as an e-book, and it will feature a brand new Reggie Spiffington story.

Reading updates:

I’ve recently read Scott Westerfield’s YA steampunk Leviathan trilogy (Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath). Rolicking good reads, filled with adventure and steampowered walking machines and whaleships. Alternative-history WWI with a great female protagonist. I really enjoyed them. After that I re-read Howards End, ostensibly because I’m going to be teaching it in a few weeks, but mainly because it is so very beautiful. I come close to tears every time I read it, just from joy at the writing. I read an E.M. Forster novel every year, and Howards End is possibly his best, though Passage to India is a contender. I’m now reading Nicole Peeler’s Tempest Rising, which I’ve wanted to check out for a while now, and am gearing up for the Dickens bicentennial reading. I think I’ll do Bleak House. Gwyn will be doing Dickens with me, but I don’t know if she’s chosen hers yet or not. You, my friend, should read a Dickens novel this year. It can only do you good.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow is the prize winner announcement. Drop by and see what you won.

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