Saturday, March 30, 2013
On this our 300th post I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter. This is a very spiritual time for me. Maybe more so because of the installation of our new Pope, Francis, who for me has all that much more relevance because he is a Jesuit. For those who don't know me well, I am Jesuit educated and have great affection toward the order and their teaching methods. We will return on Monday, fittingly April fools day and hopefully will have at least one announcement, although I am hoping for at least two.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I call it that. I don't know what anyone else calls it but this happens a lot. Seems I run, pardon the pun, at the pen, yeah, on some tales up to ten pages whereupon I hit a wall. Sometimes I write myself into a corner but usually the feel of the story dies for the moment. When this happens I find smaller pieces, more solid pieces, yes I am working it, come out. RED LIGHT is on hiatus while two flash pieces are done and ready for submission. Also, a poem about rotting is now in the works. Bring on the prune juice!
Ah the attention to detail. We reviewed in class last week the importance of addressing those submission letters correctly. A simple point and something basic --- 'how could anyone screw that up' asked one of my students. That would be pretty hard to do or wait why can't I just ask the rejection letter I last received. With such attention to detail don't anyone complain about my story.
Friday, March 22, 2013
I just found out minutes ago that BAD LUCK a short story about a shadow man and the havoc he wreaks will be included in Scarlett River Press' Anthology titled TORTURED SOULS Vol. 2. More news to follow and yes I am very excited about this story as I based it on a waking nightmare I had as a child. The curious part of this waking nightmare is that I had the same nightmare on the same date for three years running. Thank you Jo Anne Russell and Scarlett River Press.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Okay so it was for the last hour. This has just been such a busy month real work wise I just haven't had a chance. Anyway, THE RED LIGHT is the title and after several crappy drafts from a few months ago; one I read to my students as well...I finally, finally, finally got a chance to clean it up. We are around 2,500 words of a story that should top off around 4,000. Much more to come, including a hint about the plot. Let's just say I found a way to sew shut an eye and a mouth on someone while they sleep. Good times had by all.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Prayers to the family of Horror Author James Herbert on his sudden passing tonight. Author of MOON, THE RATS and THE FOG among others, he will be greatly missed. I enjoyed Mr. Herbert's work and I believe he never got the attention he so rightly deserved amongst contemporary writers. RIP James Herbert and thank you for the legacy you left behind.
As posted today, stop by Lurid-lit for Deadite Press' own RED SKY review. See if I enjoyed and will recommend this blend of crime thriller and horror novel on Lurid-lit today.
Monday, March 18, 2013
THE BEST OF SURREAL GROTESQUE Anthology is due out the end of March. Both stories will be appearing; but the new news here is the target publishing date is the end of this month. More news to follow.
I had two instances today where someone asked me what I like to do in my spare time. Being in mixed company I couldn't give them my first answer; although I probably should have as it would have had a lesser impact. Why is it that horror writing evokes the response it does? Why is it that I am the sick moth#$ @&*ker? Why do people believe that the actual physical practice of writing itself creates an outlet whereby the mere placing the pen to paper actually saves the lives of a vast majority of my city's populace? Does writing children's stories make the writer simple minded? Better not because I have published a couple. Are Romance writers viewed as nymphomaniacs? I think not. Maybe I should stick with my first answer. After all which is worse?
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Does anyone know how the Governor escaped the horde that Andrea dropped on him by swinging that door open? Wait maybe he has the same magical powers that Michonne used to retrieve the family photo at the diner while Carl waited outside. Oh yeah and maybe it is the same time displacement yoga pilates that skips winters too! Oh, magical OZ of Zombies I enjoy this show, I enjoy this show. I just went out and purchased a whole litter of kitties and named each one after every main character in the show! Yeah, right, what am I six? I know I am in the minority here but "COME ON MAN!!!" The writing and plotting have become cartoony and too fast and loose. Certain aspects of the plot are drawn out way too much while others are simply slighted. This has now become insulting. My wife, who is a huge fan, is now becoming disenchanted. It is a shame... She watches while I sit and work in another room. We discuss what she watches and I might overhear, but tonight she's had it. I can tell and I don't blame her. What is next flying slow motion and stop motion ninja moves? Oh yes a torture chamber, after all we have to keep those HOSTEL and SAW fans satiated. And enough with trying to sell the soundtrack --- frankly I think it is sappy and sucks. Look, you are right maybe I couldn't do any better. But to be honest, given the time, yeah I think I could. Between the God aweful remake of GODZILLA tonight and this, AMC is closing in on becoming the SCI-FI channel. Please bring back BREAKING BAD, please....please....
Saturday, March 16, 2013
A great man once wrote, "Avoid distraction and the fashion of the moment. Keep your head down and tend to your own toil." Well, maybe not a great man -- I wrote it. This morning I spoke with a friend who is a painter by birth, not trade. And by painter I mean paintings not houses. By birth I mean that is what he is meant to do in a perfect world not his trade as a middle management paper shuffler in a large corporation. We talked about creativity and what we do to keep it alive. We spoke about the moments we steal here and there to keep our sanity balanced to work on our projects that seem to be buried more and more from the toils of our obligation. By the end of our visit I realized he had done the bulk of the talking. He had gone on and on and on and I only interjected twice. My God is that me? And in all I realized, it really isn't that bad. We're merely being selfish. If we truly are creative enough we can balance the world. Bullocks to it all which is more appealing whine or wine? Now I am not advocating drinking and writing; although it certainly worked for a great lot of guys and dolls. No, use the mantra I use with my students --- don't fret it, let it go. We're working on longer pieces these days and we are working less hours a week a writing. This ain't no sprint, but I expect to be in the winner's circle just as much.
Friday, March 15, 2013
When someone advertises their publication as a 'literary publication' that is code for whatever we thinks is literary. All writing is literary! Anyone using that monitor is too smug to want anything but their own cronies. Beware and keep away. Don't waste your time or energy.
Oh, there truly is. More than ever before I believe. More than there were during the Dark Ages. Don't get me wrong, I'm talking about the flesh and blood kind, not the undead black caped Eastern European voiced ones. These vampires feast on one's energy in form of 'energy' not blood. Everyday of my life, and I believe many of you can chime in on this in your endeavors, I am surrounded by hoardes of 'vampires' sapping my energy and trying my patience. 'Energy Vampires' as they are called have rendered me this week completely exhausted. Here is a case in point; The phone rang and I answered the way I always do "Hello Joseph Patchen speaking" and as I was in the middle of my greeting I heard "Hello". I said " Yes, Hello?" And the response was three more 'hellos'. I stopped and said "I'm here and you are?" And the genius on the other end says "Hello, I am looking for Joseph Patchen." I told her that was me. She then asked me if it really was me. And again I said 'Yes'. The person then says "Thank you and proceeds to cold call on something I requested online." I told her I didn't buy anything. She insisted. I told her I was too poor to buy anything. She persisted. I told her that I am not allowed to buy anything without my wife's pwermission and she continued her scripted pitch. So I hung up. Not more than fifteen seconds later the phone rings again. I pick up and it is her still in the middle of her monologue. Give her an "A" for effort. I praised her for being a real go getter. So I told her 'okay you win' and requested all the details on what she was selling. When she finished you could tell she was smug. She almost sounded sultry when she requested my email so as to send all the paperwork to seal the deal. Beaten as I was well...as she told me how my life would be enhanced by her efforts to help me this day I almost forgot my old and invalid email address -- but I didn't. Next I received a phone call from someone who recommended me to a firm who needed representation. As directed I contacted the principal and we spoke at length about just general stuff such as my qualifications and fees. He then wished a face to face meeting with he and his wife since this involved both of them. At the meeting the next day, it soon became clear this was not going to be a 'corporate' representation since the issue involved his young son and their school. Ten minutes in to the meeting, this individual's demeanor changed one-eighty: he became loud and demanding, at times shouting and always absolute. Each time I tried to calm him he only became louder. It didn't a brain surgeon to conclude that the underlying issue with his son and school lie within his hamster wheeled cranium. As I declined his generous offer that I cut my hourly fee in half I made for the door when his wife actually spoke, begging me to stay and to speak with their in-house in-family social worker about the issue. I excused myself and made for the parking lot. As I reached for my car door a young woman was running toward me shouting my name. This made me more nervous but she was young and fast and I'm fat and slow. She introduced herself as the social worker apologizing and rationalizing for the tone of the meeting. Then almost on a dime her eyes light up and she says "So you have your own office. That must be very exciting for you. Your mommy and daddy must be so proud of you." My reply came without hesitation "Yes, I think they are; but more importantly you see I have been wearing big boy pants now for more than a week and I do not need their help to go potty anymore." She was still standing there dumbstruck as I drove off. You can't beat stupod and crazy and the only way to salvage the energy and ttime they try to take from you is to give it right back. Have a good night.
And that frustration we have all felt as writers continues as I await the publication of THE MEETING in a magazine that I realize is struggling; struggling as a lot of publications are. In my writing class I told my students that self-publishing and self-promotion is very much on the rise and may be where we are headed until this economy is in fact saved and not saved in the bizzarro=world way that the President says. But since our government, both state and federal feel that it is a crime for working stiffs to have disposal income to invest in projects; much of our culture, not necessary just this little dusty and sticky corner of the world will not only suffer but will crumble.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Duotrope's report is out again today. For all us writers the trend continues. This month we find 122 new markets while 222 have closed. Being down a hundred may not as bad as prior months but consider this: many of the 222 new markets are one shot anthologies. The lack of any continued publication speaks to a thinning marketplace that may ultimately signal a much stronger self-published maket.
Monday, March 11, 2013
I have a book to review but for obvious reasons the author wants me to hold off until the publisher actually prints the thing. I know the feeling. While I understand the stress and strain publishers are under every day, we writers are similarly vexed. I am waiting on the 3rd issue of Insomnia Magazine. Unfortunately I hear it will be their last for a time. Like life the business end is always the most grueling.
Well, the first ones I like are ones that lead to a better gig and many have. But here is a good one; I won't mention the magazine because today it dropped off google like a lead rock and we can only hope it drops faster. Anyway, the rejection email comes from an editior with a changed name on the email heading. I would think as an editor you would get that in sync; isn't that the very definition of editing. Don't get me wrong I am not venting. With that kind of sloppiness and now the disappearing act I am happy about this one.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
The business end of writing seems to be taking up more and more time. In a way this is good because it means there is actual 'business' to attend to. After all, it is nice to be paid. But a colleague just brought up the more insidious side of business, that is lawsuits.As a writer do you incorporate? This is a litigious society. It truly is. Any comments would be appreciated.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Yes a poem for Easter 2013 even though Easter is the 31st. I thought I would just share it early after all I see a lot of folks are already decorating for it and the stores actually put their Easter merchandise out last September. I actually wrote this is 2002 and its been sitting in a file: EGG ROLL by Joseph J. Patchen copyright 2002 by Joseph J. Patchen. Hey you have to get that stuff in...anyway: EGG ROLL Over the field the children flow with their baskets at their sides. Searching for those eggs that seem to know exactly where to hide. Some may be blue, some may be white, but never are they brown. So be wary, little children, where you step, because some things are better not found.
I was told by someone that my use of dead rats in a story is too over the top. I was told that the rats should be live and scurrying about rather than dead and rancid. I was told that by using dead rats I am somehow offending readers who love animals and who are in favor of animal rights. Yeah? Well its not like I'm using real rats here; this is a literary device. Hello?
Monday, March 4, 2013
And Emily Smith-Miller for the kinds words and for including me in a list of writers for The Conservatory; writers whose works have been well followed and well recognized. As The Conservatory launches its new editorial policies I was cited along with Brittany Warren, Gill Hoffs, Peter Marra, Cheryl Anne Gardner and Phillip Andrew Wardlow; all by name and all writers whose work I greatly respect. The Conservatory has been good to me and has allowed me to write the edgier horror that at times simply tumbles out. I am humbled to be included on this list and blessed to be part of this wonderful ezine.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
I have begun writing again, after a bit of a hiatus, with a story titled "The Red Light". A couple of nights before class this vision appeared in my dreams and as is the case with each of my stories, I needed to jot down the details. The dream has come to me in parts each night and the story is beginning to fill out now.I haven't written for days, but the everything is becoming clearer in my mind. As I look back on that forst draft I shared with my class, I can tell you that first draft was utter crap. At the 3 am this morning I gutted that draftwhile key elements remain; the characters are different and the language and pace are not recognizable. We all need to have the courage to revise our ideas and feelings in the face of measured thought.