My natural disposition is to jump ahead of the present and continue towards the future. I have this terrific rock band I've been working with, some brand-new novels and short stories on the well, future blog hops, interview, etc. Things are good. But that's only now.
For awhile I had to take a little hiatus and get myself back together. For the first, I experience a shortage in the good ol' noggin', or an anxiety attack. A close friend of mine suggested it might be worth writing about, so here we are. If you've had a similiar experience yourself, make sure to check it out. If not, maybe it's worth exploring for the sake of understanding.
Some of us have wild dreams we'll never let go. We hope this stamina and this resilience will lead to the fruition of those goals. We ignore criticism & doubt. We feel lost without the pursuit of such happiness.
However, if you're like most of us, there's this achievement we haven't quite snatched. Until we do, everything around us is grey-scaled --you know, between black & white, which aren't even colors.
And if you're also like us, perhaps you believe you defined the phrase "been in a funk." We might also believe ourselves to be the very ones who started labeling almost everything else "menial." But after a transition from dread to research, I believe there are few things I have learned about the pursuit of happiness.
One-Way Streets & The Hybrid Writer.
There are many writers who either go indie and/or self-publishing; or there are those who will only follow the path to traditional publishing. The argument behind traditional publishing is merit. There's a label on your book and check to say this book was seen to be worth at least this much. Some self-pub writers will argue their method is the only way to truly express your writing. It brings so much freedom and a much higher royalty rate.
With that in mind, I was furious and than impressed by this article by Rob W. Hart on Salon.com.
Hart seems to hold a mutual viewpoint of the many publishing media. He traditionally publishes his manuscripts, while some of the smaller ones that don't fit into a specific commercial market, he reserves those for self-publishing. He considers himself a "hybrid writer."
Although I think the term is a bit inflated, I fall into the category. For instance, many of my works involved signatures, but then there's No-Injury Policy which has been fairly successful since its release in October 2012.
The short story collection might found some sort of accreditation in the traditional market, but I knew a book of its nature wasn't expected to be a bestseller. However, it is a collection of stories I believe many people will find--or already have found--interesting.
There's just not real a demand for short story collections in the general markets, especially a work like #NIP that crosses between genre fiction and not.
So there's this Kickstarter program for American Psycho, the Musical.
Here's the deal: I love the novel American Psycho, and the movie wasn't too shabby either. Actually, I think the movie was a little less twisted, but that's neither here nor there. However, Bret Easton Ellis has been a little strange as of late.
First, he wanted to rewrite the book and modernize it. Why? It's still prominent in pop culture as it was during it's cult heyday. Quick summary: The protagonist is bank investor Patrick Bateman who's obsessed with image from suits to business cards. He's obsessive. He's compulsive. He's sweet. He'll rip your vagina out. That's the kind of story we're talking about here.
Second, I like the idea of a musical over a retake on the book. For the same reason Fight Club was annoying to some, this notion of an American Psycho musical is driving me insane.
Any curmudgeon out there will tell you the problem with the kids these days is a sense of entitlement. I think that's what every generation says. "You mean, some bus comes to your house and picks you up for school? In my day I had to walk 20 miles, along a snow mountaintop, to reach the 10-mile-away point . . . ."
The second thing they might tell you, is that more and more youngsters aren't doing their homework. That is, social media ruined our true connection with people & the spoken/written word. If no one's reading and writing, they're losing out big time. However, that's just not the case.
I've roamed around the web a few times, and now there seems to be a combination of recreational social media use and, of course, the homework. And guess what? Youngsters are online and writing more than ever.
Transgressive fiction is nothing new. In fact, although I coin myself a transgressive writer, it's kinda like saying punk rock after the 1980s. To be a true trangressive writer, many would argue you must've been a published pen between the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, many writers of the new and sorta new can be found quite easily today, such as Amy Hempel and Chuck Palahniuk. Oh yeah, James Joyce - you know Ulysses - is a pretty common gem. While we're name dropping: Bret Easton Ellis, Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Young.
Trangressive fiction started with prose that was often banned or chastised for being too obscene, too vulgar, or just too close to home. These stories brought the social struggles of their times into an honest - admittedly sometimes dark - portrayal. Some people go to the extreme, while others might just rip on consumerism.
The thing about transgressive fiction is that's it's about what's right. Here are 3 points to consider if you ever find yourself bored in a Barnes & Noble and want to count the trangressive writers throughout the entire store.
Today I was spoiled with an opportunity to interview author Andrew Cyrus Hudson, the mastermind behind Somewhere in the Shadows: The Anthology. See, he's the guy who designed the book and had it made.
He's worked with multiple aspects of publishing, and his passion resides in producing a book from the ground up. He's also the guy who asked me to be in the short story collection.
You know that "Charlatan" thing I've been, admittedly, self-promoting like crazy as of late? That's the short story I contributed.
For now, here are the publishing-related questions and his uncensored response to them all.
C.M. Humphries (C):
C: How did you decide which authors would be in the anthology?
C: What were the overhead expenses for producing such an anthology?
C: What are your future plans for Somewhere in the Shadows or for other story collections?
C: Where can everyone find you online?
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Ask Andrew Cyrus Hudson Anything About Somewhere in the Shadows or independent & self-publishing in the comments - and earn points towards a hand-bound edition of No-Injury Policy!
It's getting closer to bedtime and you're looking at your loved one, thinking about the ways you would love to express your love. The day was a long one, and now you want to share the excitement of a relationship and reduce stress in one fell swoop. You start with the sweet nothings and pillow talk shortly before your loved one turns to you and says they're too tired, too stressed, or they have a headache. Now, making love would be the cure-all in this instance, but it takes two to tango. Getting two people to agree about anything is difficult. So there you are, wanting to embrace your lover and wishing the stressors keeping you awake at night would go away. What do you do?
There's a good chance this post will piss a lot of people off. See, this one is all about publishing - what it is and it isn't. It's no secret that No-Injury Policy is self-published, but trust me, there's a great deal of trepidation as I type this sentence. See, self-published works often procure the curious eye and the furrowed brow. Self-publishing is said to be for the impatient, the lazy, and the worst of writers. But ever wonder who says such things? Consider this: I, like many authors, have a dream of one day being part of either Random House or Penguin Group. That means you made it, right? If you guessed "yes", the you really need to keep on reading.
When expectations are high, money is tight, love is tainted and stress is ubiquitous, the citizens of Chase County will do anything to make sure they survive. From the deconstruction of a town to frivolous intercourse with strangers, No-Injury Policy explores the dark depths of human nature when social pressures peak.
No sooner than the meek taste retribution, however, they encounter the demons that have aided authority figures to the top - demons that refuse to lose control no matter what it takes.
No-Injury Policy is the 1st short story collection by C.M. Humphries, showcasing seven of the eeriest tales from every town in Chase County: Raven's Crook, Lovington, Lakeside, and Long Brooke.
Following along as I provide a snippet of each story in the collection. If there's a picture to the left of the premise, that means I blogged on a topic from the story. Be sure to check them all out.
Let's face it, we're part of an interesting historical period. Or several. There almost seems to be an ideological Civil War taking place within the United States, one that might determine what is right, what is acceptable, and what is illegal. No matter what your stance is on an issue, you probably realize it's important to stand up for what you believe. However, let me suggest that you spend a little more thinking than acting.
Aside from romance novels, most fiction today begs for rational thought. That is, most books are written with characters who have a mythical sense of foresight, which by large, is akin to the author's all-knowing perspective of the fictional world they've created. While it's important for characters to have realistic thought (since this will greatly impact the direction of the plot), I personally believe it's unrealistic. Without irrational thought, characters might lack a certain kind of hope or motivation that will drive them to success or at least an interesting life. Also, experiencing irrational thought through the eyes of fictional characters can be beneficial under real-life circumstances.
The first thing they teach in art school is that a masterpiece will sell itself. This is the most untrue statement ever made. Now, it's hard to argue, especially as a writer, whether you have a masterpiece on your hand, but rest assure, no one is going to find you accidentally. No worries, though, here are 3 things you can do to increase your chances of selling an idea, and it works even if you're not an artist.
We all know of the "Your Baby Can Read" and Robert Titzer scandal. Right now, the FTC is fighting the organization for false and deceptive advertisements, not only on television, but through websites and giant social media companies. The company is going out of business due to the large loss of profits through complaints. While they say their results verify their research, the FTC says their studies and records are flawed. In short, something like "Your Baby Can Read" won't likely produce a nine-monther who can read. However, it may be possible to teach your young'ns some form of communication which could lead to a higher literacy rate at a younger age.
Joe Hill and His Swag.
I came across an 2011 CNN article today which featured fantasy and horror writer Joe Hill. Now, whenever someone speaks of Joe Hill, there's automatically a giant elephant in the room. Why? Because he has his father. Who's his father?
At any rate, what impressed me about Joe Hill, besides his novel Heart-Shaped Box and a few of his stories from 20th Century Ghosts, is his mind set as a writer.
Be Your Own Writer
Granted, Hill probably had a nice boost from being the son of what's-his-face, but he didn't want that to help him. He told CNN:
I'm very close to my dad, my best friend. I talk to him every day, and he is a huge source of inspiration for me. I knew by the time I was in college I wanted to be a professional writer as well, but I also started to think that the last name was actually more of a disadvantage than an advantage.
Most writers I know don't have a great family hook-up in the writing industry. And to be honest, if his dad was my dad, I would have thought twice about using a pen name. That's what makes Hill a great writer. He didn't want to piggyback off of his dad, so he decided to shorten his name so he could have a career of his own.
In the United States, there are dozens of celebrity children who only rise to fame because of their parents, and then they turn around and make money off of careers they never quite established. While this unfair, you cannot blame people for the family they are born into. However, some of us get a little sick with individuals like the Kardashians (don't remind me of the Kris Humphries scandal) hogging up magazine space (which could be use for better articles by, you know, WRITERS) and TV time (which also could consist of shows written by WRITERS). And what do they do? Whatever their inherited success allows them to buy.
But Hill chose to throw most of that away. By sharing the same last name as his parents, he was guaranteed publication. He also wanted to have a long career. If anything he wrote was published for being a what's-their-faces, a crappy novel could have emerged. That novel would sell like James Cameron movies, but if it sucked, his career would be over.Still, he writers the same kind of stuff as his father, so has he used the family to his advantage?
Write What You Know
He grew up in a fantasy/horror household. This is what he knew, and although this piece of advice is generally abused and misunderstood, he grew up with ghost stories and ended up writing ghost stories.
Left: What's-his-face Right: Joe Hill
In essence, I not only like Joe Hill's works, but also respect the man as a human being.
Sure I don't know him through anything more than his tweets, but being a good person also reflects well on a writer.
Remember, you are your best selling point. Be organic.
Today I received a phone call from an old chum who was seeking a bit of writing advice. To me, giving advice seems a bit too pretentious, though I mention the things I've learned from time to time. There's nothing more discouraging than finding out a writer you look up to is discouraging, and this really applies to a prominent figure in any aspiration. Some people are too negative. Some people are know-it-alls.
So if there is one piece of advice I believe in whole-heartedly, it's be yourself.
If you're thinking that's a cliche message, you're already on the wrong path.
1. Meeting people is key to success in the publishing game.
You can't force this. When I went to the Midwest Writers Conference (#mww12), I saw a lot of writers jumping to the point. Lucky for me, I interned for Kelsey Timmerman and ended up making a lifelong friend (or acquaintance with hook-ups, though I don't see it that way) and weaseled my way into the conference as an intern.
What I learned was to be natural. Hang out. Talk. Whatever. We're all human beings, and that's what we look for first in people, despite any prior motives. Someone who is "real" is much more appealing than someone trying to pitch an idea. You never know when these opportunities will arise, but you know your goals, and more importantly, you know who you are - So work with it! If you end up at the same restaurant, grab a drink and make conversation. If they're interested in what you do after that, they'll find a way of getting it out of you.
Warning: Be aware they may ask you to "pitch" your idea, though you think you're lost in conversation. I made this mistake when chatting with Dana Kaye. Be on your toes!
2. Don't try to fit in.
Being the awkward kid rarely works, but don't blend in. Of course, you don't want to be too far off in your own little world. Are you the kind of person who knows these tidbits about things, as though you're waiting for your turn on Jeopardy!? Then do that. It's you, and there's nothing you can design that will ever be as authentic.
I receive criticism from others all the time for writing horror. Look, I love horror. I love to write horror stories. I know horror. So I go with it. And guess what, other people might be looking for that.
3. You are Your Audience.
It's important to see your idea in a realistic perspective, but at the same time, think about what lead you to liking whatever it is you like. If you're writing a certain way just because it sells, most people will see through your façade . For instance, I love horror. I write horror. There are other people just like m, and they might be the audience you've been searching for all along.
People who don't like horror, will only mock horror. Your audience (if you're a horror writer in this instance) are those who love horror. See how it works?
Be organic. Who you are as a person might be your very best selling point.
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Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.