Sunday, 25 September 2016

Life in Dog Years

How do you picture your life? I picture mine in dog years. I am of that age where I figure I can get one, maybe two more dogs and that's it, and that saddens me. It feels almost like when I realized I wasn't going to have anymore children. It is weird to realize you are living in the middle to the last part of your years.

Did I accomplish everything I wanted? Yes, for the most part. I did. I will never be one of those people that regrets not having done white water rafting, zip lining, skiing, repelling down a mountain or  kayaking. I will never regret pursuing careers such as psych nursing, medicine, philosophy, writing, psychology, or the police force. I will never regret having children, just the number of them. Should have had one more to even things out.

I will never regret having married, traveling the world or living across Canada. I will never regret studying Alternative Medicine, going to University or studying aircraft maintenance. I will never regret speaking four languages fluently, horseback riding in the mountains or finding a passion for horror.

I will never regret buying a Mazda MX-3 and popping a wheelie on Memorial Boulevard. I will never regret listening to Punk and Alternative music super loud and signing at the top my lungs. I will never regret swimming at midnight, drinking on the beach, running with the full moon and howling through the RV park.

I will never regret the passion for my husband, my partner in this life and all others. I will never regret staying home and raising my kids, putting off my career until I was old. I will never regret loving them so much it makes me feel like dying when I cannot see or talk to them. I

will never regret my grandchildren and what great people they are and how happy I am to know them.

I will never regret learning about everything and anything that I am passionate about, regardless of how weird, icky, redundant or strange it may be, because knowledge for the sack of knowledge is a love, loved best.

But I will regret not having all the dogs I ever wanted.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Hippie: The Redux

All right, so when I started this blog three years ago, I decided I wanted to be a hippie. So far, so good.

Three years later, I am a trained and Certified Yoga Instructor specializing in Yoga for Mental Heath, PTSD, Anxiety and Depression, I am registered in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Certification program, I am teaching yoga twice a week for a police organization and have done more writing and editing.

I am planning a three day Yoga Retreat and contemplating ghost writing a Yoga book for a highly intelligent, creative and flexible person.

I have also since then, been promoted and lead a unit in Operational Support. Been published a few more times, still working on the novel, and still battling demons.

I have achieved more towards my goal and have moved away from what is holding me back.

I still dream of my house on an acreage where I can grow wine (yes, I know) read, write, stomp some grapes in the backyard, run through fields of clover with the wolves and splash in  the ocean whenever the urge strikes.

Will it happen? Who knows. I try to stay the course, I meander, wander, stroll, roam and leap through paths. Life is more exciting when you can switch gears on a moment's notice.

JOHN EVERSON

JOHN EVERSON

1.     When did you start writing horror?
Probably the first “horror” thing that I wrote was a little vignette about a guy who comes home from work and hangs himself… a nice, uplifting little tale which was published in my high school newspaper literary page. Then I wrote a few horror stories for Creative Writing classes in college (one professor graded me “down” and told me to quit wasting my time writing stuff like that Stephen King fellow.)  I had been out of college a couple years when I really started regularly writing fiction and submitting to magazines. 2014 marked my 20th anniversary as a published fiction writer (not counting that high school foray).

2.   Have you written in any other genre?
I grew up reading science fiction, so a lot of my earlier stories, in particular, have some sci-fi to them. And I’ve written urban fantasy on occasion. I even have a short collection out that is strictly Christmas fantasy tales.  And I have a short fantasy story out there for young beginning readers, which I originally wrote for my son. Most of the story ideas I come up with have dark twists at the end, but every now and then a ray of light shows through!

3.  What makes you uncomfortable?
Loss. I worry about the things you can’t guard against. The things that come into your life from left field and steal everything you have – whether those things are human villains or cancer or a car gone out of control and crossing three lanes of traffic right at you. 

4.  Does your family read your work?
Not too much. My wife and sister-in-law have read some of my books. My dad read one of my novels once and decided they weren’t for him. I’m okay with that. I don’t really want to have to try to explain why I write the stories that I do!

5.  Does your writing make you uneasy?
Only when it’s taking me too long to finish a project!

6.  Who would you say you write like?
Me. There are a lot of authors I like and admire. I wouldn’t presume to think I write like or could be considered comparable to any of them, though I wish I did.

7.  Who are your favourite authors?
I like a lot of authors for different things, but the ones I come back to again and again include Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Richard Matheson, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Edward Lee.  Growing up, I had a whole different list of science fiction authors, who still hold a big bunch of real estate on my bookshelves. But Isaac Asimov, Clifford Simak, Hal Clement, Charles Eric Maine, J.T. McIntosh, C.J. Cherryh, Eric Frank Russell, Keith Laumer and Robert Heinlein don’t have much bearing for a horror crowd!


8.  Who influences you as a writer?
Everyone I’ve ever read! Especially those listed in Question 7!

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
I read all sorts of ghost stories and classics like Poe as a kid. But probably the first “adult” horror novel I read was Carrie, when I was a freshman in high school. That really opened my eyes to what you could do with character development and inner narrative.  That novel blew me away.

10.  How old were you?
14. It was my first semester of Freshman year.

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
That’s a hard one. I believe you can write about anything… but I won’t touch things that I am not interested in reading about. Why would I want to spend my time?  Typically, I have no interest in reading about serial killers, or child abusers.  That said, in Sacrifice, Ariana qualifies as a serial killer, even though she’s doing it as an occult ritual. And in The 13th, there are unborn babies who are sacrificed along with their mothers. So it’s partially about context.  I personally wouldn’t have any interest chronicling the life of a real serial killer like John Wayne Gacy for example. There are people fascinated with the reality of that horror… but I’m fascinated by the kind of horror that is not of this tabloid-driven earth.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
Write a lot, and always write for yourself – don’t chase a trend, you’ll always be on the run. Read your dialogue aloud. Read to yourself in the mirror, if that’s the only audience you’ve got. Listen to what your characters are saying. Would anybody REALLY talk like that? Storytelling began as an oral tradition and the best, most get-under-your-skin stories are typically those that can be read aloud.

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
I think I’d learn how to write Romance.

14.  How many books do you read a year?
That number, sadly, gets less and less every year. The last time I read more than 10 books in a year was 2007 (I used to keep  lists).  The past couple years I’ve barely gotten through a handful of books a year.  I miss the days that I used to lie around the house and read for hours – just for pleasure, not because I was editing or blurbing something (which seems to be the only way I read at all anymore!)

15.  Do you write every day?
I do every day that I’m writing ;-) 

I’m a sprint writer, not a marathon writer. What does that mean? I can sit down sometimes and knock out thousands of words over a weekend when I can immerse myself and dedicate myself to it. But unless I’m under a real date-oriented deadline,  I might then go for a couple weeks or a month without writing a word. I’ve written over 10,000 words in a 24-hour period before.   I’m good at periodic long hard sprints like that. I’m not so good at religiously sitting down day-after-day and knocking out 1,000 words in a regular rhythm.  That said… when I’m really actively working on a novel, I do force myself into a daily schedule so that I guarantee that I’ll hit 6-7,000 words a week.  I can usually only keep that pace up for a couple months, but that’s enough to get a good chunk of a novel down on paper.

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Men in Horror: SHAUN MEEKS

Shaun Meeks

1.     When did you start writing horror?
I wrote my first short story when I was in grade 4. I did a book report on The Shining (something that didnt go over well in the Catholic School I attended) and then wrote a story called Cannibalistic Vampires. It was a cross between The Hills Have Eyes and Near Dark. From there, I wrote about two stories a year, most of them terrible. I still have a few of them and they are my secret shame.

2.     Have you written in any other genre?
Not that Ive published as of yet, but I have a few that will be released in the near future. Many of them lean more towards crime stories, but there are also a few science fiction and fantasy stories too. I do have a book series planned that will have touches of horror to it, but will be aimed at a younger audience.

3.     What makes you uncomfortable?
Questions that ask what makes me uncomfortable, for one. Aside from that, there are a few other things. Being on sketchy rides at travelling carnivals never make me feel good, nor do unsafe heights. Where I used to work, Id have to go to the roof of this thirty-three story building and it had no real ledge to it. It just sort of dropped off. It was so windy up there and nothing to hold onto. It was a place of nightmares. Ive been tempted to write about fears of mine like that, but they havent come out right, so maybe later.

4.     Does your family read your work?
Some of them do, but not all. One of my most vocal fans in my family is my son, Kaleb. He loves and promotes almost everything Ive written. My partner, she has read a lot of what Ive written, but is more of a Jane Austen fan than a Stephen King one. Shes had some tough reads with my work, especially a certain zombie erotica story I wrote. As far as the ones who dont read it, it could be that horror is not their thing, or reading isnt. Who knows? Im sure all writers have some family that just think the whole writing thing is really just a hobby of sorts, nothing to take serious. I dont get offended by them, you cant please everyone.

5.     Does your writing make you uneasy?
Not at all. Well, I did write part of a novel a few years ago that I had to put down. I managed to get about 55,000 words into it, but the subject matter was getting too hard for me and was actually giving me nightmare. The book is called Memoirs of a Serial Killing and even though the subject matter is fiction, I did add fair amount of reality to it. Most of it has to do with some personal experience I had growing up that haunt me. I grew up in a very abusive home, so when I go into some of the killers past, I used things I saw and lived through as fodder. It was had to relive them, but I feel like they add a pretty good punch to the story, so I kept them in. Only thing is, it was so hard to keep going that I need to put it aside and do other work. One day the book will see the light of day.

6.     Who would you say you write like?
Ive heard comparisons coming up in reviews now and again, but Ive never really thought I write like any one person. Ive been heavily influenced by people like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Elmore Leonard and Joe R. Lansdale, but Im not sure I write like any of them. If it was any of those though, I think the influences I picked up from Leonard are the most easy to spot. Im not big on painting set pictures; overly describing how someone is dressed, what the colour and texture of a carpet is or all the other minute things some feel are essential. For me its more about the story, the characters and the action than the small stuff.

7.     Who are your favourite authors?
Thats a hard one. There are so many, but I recently posted a top ten of some of my favorite writers. So here it is again, in no particular order: Stephen King, Clive Barker, Jack Ketchum, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Joe R. Lansdale, Chuck Palahniuk, Joe Hill, Tim Lebbon, Christian A. Larsen and Richard Matheson. The list always changes though. For me, the list changes depending on who Ive been reading more of lately, but these writers can usually be found near my night table.

8.     Who influences you as a writer?
Over the years this has changed because Im constantly being inspired by new writers that come out. Growing up though, some of my biggest influences were some mentioned above like King, Barker, Ketchum, Lansdale, as well as H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Ramsey Campbell, Graham Masterton and Shirley Jackson. Some newer ones would be Brian Keene, Tim Lebbon, Wrath James White, Chuck Palahniuk, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Edward Lee and Joe Hill. Sometimes when I read them, I feel like such a hack, but they also make me want to continue to strive to be a better writer.

9.     Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
The first horror novel I ever read was Stephen Kings The Shining. It was grade four and I saw it in my brothers ever expanding book collection. I remember the cover too. It was all silver with a face in the top center, but the face was blank. I had no idea what it was about, and I admit that I really didnt get every aspect of it when I read it back then. Some of it was way too over my head, but it made me want more of that kind of writing. I already loved horror comics like Tales from the Crypt, Eerie, Tomb and a few others my brother had, so I started to look for novels at the library. After that I think the next horror-type novel I found was Ray Bradburys Something Wicked This Way Comes which became even more of a staple for me, something I really grabbed onto and influenced some of my writing.

10.  How old were you?
I would have been around nine at the time. Clearly not a good age for something as heavy as The Shining, but Im sure thats why I like what I like.

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
Not really. I used to say that I would never kill a child in any books I wrote, but as long as its part of the story and its not graphic or written just to shock the reader, I would and have done it. Instead of subject matter that I steer clear of, its more a tone I stay clear of. Torture porn is not something I care to write, nor are rape scenes. Will I include them in the story if its called for? Yes, but its all about writing it with the proper intentions. Having a hateable character do or say something horrible is important if thats what they would believable do. I wrote a novel where an abusive husband said things and did things that made one editor uncomfortable, saying that it was too over the top, and nobody, even someone evil would say things I made him say. Since I had heard the very words come from the mouth of an abuser, I left them in because it something that character would say.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
Dont let rejections get you down. I can never say that enough. Rejections are all part of the learning and growing process. When you do get a rejection letter, take it for what it is. Read over and rework the story as it might need and submit elsewhere. Never, and I cant stress this enough, NEVER send an email back to the editor. Even if its to thank them for their time, just let it drop. Editors have enough to deal with without having to read thank you letters from everyone they reject (which can be in the high hundreds for each anthology). Just let it go.
Editors reject stories for all kinds of reasons. Sure some of them are bad, but there are plenty of stories that get rejected because your writing style might not appeal to the editor, the story you wrote might not have clicked with them that particular day or it simply did not fit in with the anthology and the editor having to make a hard choice. Some of my most successful stories were rejected several times before finding a home. The easiest one to mention is The Soldier which was rejected a few times before being picked up, and that made it on to some of the years best short story lists.

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
Not take some of my rejections as hard as I have. Also, I wouldve taken more time with some of my releases. When I first put out At the Gates of Madness, I left it up to my editor to do things right. I was in such a hurry to get it out that I never looked over the final draft sent in to be printed, so I personally missed the fact that the file sent in was not the final corrections but the original first draft. Quite a few copies of that got out before it was caught and it was and is one of the most embarrassing things that I would love to go back and change. I dont usually mention it either because its so embarrassing, but maybe itll help other writers. Do not rush a release!

14.  How many books do you read a year?
I try to read anywhere from 3-4 books a month, so anywhere from 36-48 a year. I would love to read more, but I still have to write and work myself.

15.  Do you write every day?
I do, for the most part. Unless life so rudely steps in and stops it, I write every day. I used to have a two hour window whered I write, but decided to do it with word count instead. Now I write 3000 words a day, more or less. I give that so I dont just sit at my desk looking at social media or staring at Mina for the two hours. Some days I will write more than the set amount though, in the case where the flow is good and I have thoughts I need to get out, but I never force it. If Im working on a novel and Im not at 3000 words yet, but it feels like an uphill battle, I just close it and work on a short story. Usually I have two novels and about eight short stories in the works at once, so finding something to turn to pretty easy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shaun-Meeks/106128562748355
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shaun-Meeks/e/B00JOFPMH8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1425026506&sr=8-1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShaunMeeks

Goodread: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5818641.Shaun_Meeks

Men in Horror: WALT WIGHTMAN

Blog Questions - Men Writers in Horror

1. I never thought of myself as a writer of horror. Sometimes I write about horrible
things, but it's just ordinary humans being themselves. I avoid the supernatural in
my writing, but that hasn't been any barrier to horribleness—people persist in
themselves.

3. Science fic7on has been my home, but in the last few years, I've been in the
“future ficton” sec7on of that field. Selection Event was based on a background of
sweeping diseases; Second Species and The Days That Remain were about climate
change; Metamind had brain-.‐damaging entertainment as its basis.

5. What worries me? The passage of time worries me more than anything. What else
is ahead but inevitable disease, demen7a and death? I'm a slow learner and
usually figure out later rather than sooner what I want to be doing, so that's why
I'm writing my ass off before the first shoe drops.

7. My family is uninterested in what I write. It's never discussed.

9. My writing schedule is approximately 9:00 to 12:00 every day 7ll the book's
finished; then, in the PM, I look over my notes to see what comes next in the story
and then go to sleep thinking about it. Some7mes this gets tedious. That's the
worst I can say about it. When a book is finished, I have a cigar, take a couple of
weeks off, and then go at it again.

11. As far as writing style, I try to emulate something like the flat, factual style of
Raymond Chandler. From Hunter Thompson, I learned finer points of stomping the
accelerator to the floor; from Samuel Becke (the novels) I've picked up how to
convey a precision of action; from Bob Dylan comes the faint glow of surrealism;
and, from Jane Austen, those long luxurious sentences that make perfect sense
the first time through—I like those. Or, in short: From Chandler: syntax.
Thompson: choice of action and vocabulary. Becky,  details of action. Dylan:
choice of image and vocabulary. Austen: sentence structure.

13. Lately I've been reading Eurpides with the goal of reading all his plays. He was the
Number One shitkicker of his day. He portrayed the great Greek heroes as greedy,
small-.‐minded shop-.‐keepers—a bit of reality for the hero-.‐worshippers. When
Athens raided a town and sold its popula7on, he wrote a play to show them just
how evil that was. He died in exile. My kinda guy.

15. Early on, the writers I most admired were William Faulkner, Eugene Ionesco,
William Burroughs, and a few others of similar extremity. I've been tempted to try
some experimental wri7ng, but generally I think reading fiction shouldn't be a
labor.

17. Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon was probably the first horror novel I
read.

19. I was about 15 when I read it and all I remember is the cover. Gore has no special
appeal to me. The only time I've dealt with zombies and vampires, they were just
people deep in their role-.‐playing (The Road tHell). One faux-.‐vampire was going
to bleed a cat and drink its blood. Guess who came out of it purring?

21. I was raised with pets as my friends, so they've always been as close, and closer in
many cases, than family. Readers can be sure that any cat or dog in my work is
going to come out of it just fine. I've never watched Old Yeller or similar movies
and I'm never going to read or see any entertainment that jacks up reader
involvement by harming or killing pets. I have an extremely negative reaction to
animal cruelty.

23. The best advice I was ever given about writing was “Use colorful adjectives.” Just
kidding. Actually, it was one word: “Persist.” If I were giving quick advice, it would
be the same. For extended advice, I'd recommend Wrining Real Fiction, where I
lay out exactly how I do it.

25. If I were starting all over again, I would have had my brain replaced at age sixteen
and avoided my first two marriages. God, what a thought. I almost smell
springtime.

27. A writing friend commented that when he writes every day, his desire to read
slacks off and I've also found this to be true. I read about a dozen novels a year,
but I read more nonfiction—magazines, parts of books, on-.‐line material—
depending on my current interests. I'm an infomaniac.

29. And, yes, when a novel is in the works, I write every day. The Day That Remain
took ninety out of ninety-.‐three consecutive days to write and another ninety days
to revise. That book also taught me that I can be twice as efficient in my writing if I
outline beforehand. As I said earlier, life is short; we must think before and type
faster.

Men in Horror: TONY TREMBLAY

Tony Tremblay
(Though I am on Facebook as Tony Tremblay I do use a pen name, T.T. Zuma for all of my reviews in Horror World and other review venues, and for all of my fiction).

1.     When did you start writing horror? 
I wrote my first horror story when I was 12. It was called, Spiders Ate My Face. My father read it, and he hated it. I was so dejected I didn’t write another until high school, when I was 17. My English teacher asked the class to write a comedic short story, I tried but couldn’t, so I handed in a horror tale about a man that got sucked into a painting and drowned.  The teacher gave me an A. I waited until my mid-fifties before I tried my hand at it again. I was very fortunate that Nanci Kalanta from Horror World took a look at it, enjoyed it, and decided to publish it.  
2.     Have you written in any other genre? 
Yes, I have published a crime story and I have another one written that I have to get around to submitting.  
3.     What makes you uncomfortable? 
Hardcore horror.  However, when it is fairly accessible, like the way James Wrath White, Monica O’Rourke, and John Everson do it for instance, the quality of the story usually wins out and I can get past the gore. But even then there are times I have to put the story down.  
4.     Does your family read your work?
My brothers and sisters, my in-laws, and my son do enjoy my work.  My wife has never read one of my stories.  She is a born again Christian and believes that my stories are influenced by the devil and that I’m going to hell (other than that one issue we have a great marriage by the way).  
5.     Does your writing make you uneasy?
It does.  I lie awake sometimes at night wondering if my wife is right.  
6.     Who would you say you write like?
I’m not sure.  I have been primarily influenced by two horror writers, Tom Piccrilli and Steve Vernon.  Their styles may not be obvious in my work, but everything I write has their mark on it from story structure to atmosphere.   
7.     Who are your favourite authors?
James A. Moore currently tops the list.  Christopher Golden, Gary Braunbeck, Robert Dunbar, Sandy DeLuca, Tim Curran, Chet Williamson, Bentley Little, John Everson, Thomas Sullivan, Gene O’Neil, Greg Gifune, Ray Garton, and Elizabeth Massie have been favorites for years.  Authors that are new (or new to me) that I’ve enjoyed include, Bracken Macleod, Jon Bassoff, Janet Holden, and Rose Blackthorn.  I know I’m leaving some great author’s out so please don’t consider this list complete.  
8.     Who influences you as a writer?
As I mentioned, Tom Piccirilli and Steve Vernon are the primary influences, but I also have a love of all those horror novels that were released in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the good and the bad ones. They took themselves seriously, but not too seriously, and with few exceptions, the scares were visceral without resorting to hardcore gore. It’s a formula I try to follow in my longer work. 
9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
 No question, it was The Bible, The Old Testament to be exact.  Those stories were brutal. 
10.  How old were you?
 I believe I was around 10 years old when I started reading it. 
11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
 Pedophilia and rape scenes. I will reference them, but any action happens off the page and it will not be explicit.
12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
 Join a writers group. It has given me invaluable insight on plotting, structure, and most importantly, editing. I would be lost without the feedback and help I receive from my writing group. 
13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
 My degree is in Mechanical Engineering, this didn’t leave a lot of room for non-technical electives.  If I could, I would have researched what elective writing courses were available at the time, and then sign up for every one of them and skip the Fluid Dynamics courses.  
14.  How many books do you read a year?
 An average of 100 books.  I review about half as many for Horror World.
15.  Do you write every day?
 I try to. 
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You can follow Tony Tremblay on Facebook and as T.T. Zuma in Horror World at http://horrorworld.org/msgboards/viewforum.php?f=2


Thank you very much!  I am very honored that you asked me to participate!