Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Thursday, December 29, 2011
This is all new to me. I finished writing my first novel just five months ago. It’s been a long time coming. There’s been so much to do since I finished the first draft, more than I ever imagined. I new I’d have to edit it, but I never guessed how much work that would be, because I’d only written short stories before. I found out I needed to have a website, start a blog, as well as get active on facebook and twitter. Last and not least, I needed to network. As far as networking goes, the best thing I have done to date was join the New England Horror Writers.
The NEHW seemed like a good, solid group, right away. I immediately got involved in the facebook discussions and tried to help by contributing to the website. I had a chance to meet some of the members at Rock and Shock, and then about a month later at Anthocon. Those two events were great places to start and meet a few people, but the best chance to really get to know some people was going to be the Christmas party at John McIlveen’s.
Driving there was a bit of an adventure for me. I had trouble following the mapquest directions, and found myself wishing I had taken the GPS from my wife’s car. Overall, Haverhill is not that far from my home city of Peabody (pronounced Peebuddy, Jason), but once I got past Georgetown, I was in unfamiliar territory. It probably took me about a half hour longer to get there than it should have, because I turned around and backtracked so many times. In the end, I made it though.
Now, I’ve been an introvert all my life, so meeting new people isn’t really my specialty. I’m sure a lot of you other writer types out there can relate to this. I walked into the conference room where the party was being held and all those old anxieties came to the surface. All the seats at the table were taken, which didn’t make it any easier to blend in. Luckily, Dan Keohane got up from the food table and asked in anyone wanted to play pool. A few of us teamed up and we played some pool. This gave me a chance to mingle with just a couple people to start and break the ice. As an added bonus, our host John McIlveen brought down enough alcohol to supply a frat party. I’ve been in enough social situations to know the lubricating powers of alcohol, so I grabbed a beer and tried to relax.
People came and went, but I had the chance to talk to Paul McMahon, Scott Goudsward, John McIlveen and Tracy Carbone during the day. Eventually, Stacy Longo and Jason Harris showed up, the two people who I’ve had the most contact up until now. I’m not so good at mingling that I had the chance to meet everybody, but hopefully I’ll get there eventually. I’m learning more all the time. Everybody had their own experiences and their own advice to share. The NEHW is a very friendly, supportive community, and I’m glad I can be a part of it. As day turned to night, the partygoers dwindled to a level I was more naturally comfortable with.
At eight o’clock, those of us who had stuck it out that long, gathered around the television so we could check out Tracy Carbone’s appearance on Animal Planet. This was the best time for me. We all got a kick out of Tracy’s appearance on some show that had to do with exotic pets. It lightened the mood up for a fun conversation. At that point, Scott Woolridge and Gardner Goldsmith were telling stories about convention experiences, other writers they have met, and the British sci-fi comedy, Red Dwarf, a show I had never seen before. Gardner really had some great stories to share about Red Dwarf and what the show meant to him. Gardner and a friend of his even flew over to England one year, just to watch the show on tv.
As Gardner was telling us this story, he described his big, burly friend who went with him. He looked around the room, reached over and tapped me on the shoulder, “Kind of like this guy,” he said. I have to chuckle about this. I have been part of a few different social circles over my life, such as hockey players, construction workers, Boy Scout fathers and now writers. Everything being relative, I seem to be some sort of hybrid. When I am around the athletes and construction workers, I am generally one of the smaller guys, but when I hang out with Boy Scout dads and other writers, it goes the other way.
Anyway, it was a fun day filled with interesting people. I’ve never completely fit in with the athletes and construction workers. Nothing against them, mind you, I’ve been part of that crowd for over twenty-five years. Still, it’s nice to finally find a group of people who can sit around all day talking about H. P. Lovecraft, Star Wars, the next Stephen King mini-series and the zombie apocalypse. I hope I get the chance to get to know more of this group over the coming year. Maybe by the 2012 Christmas party I’ll even know the names of the others that I didn’t get a chance to meet. I guess I’ll wrap this up now. I think I’ll watch one more episode of Red Dwarf on Netflix before bed.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
I grew up on scary movies. I've always loved them. I was watching Creature Double Feature on Channel 56 as far back as I can remember. Some of you may or may not know that I spent much of my childhood in and out of the hospital, with stomach problems. One of my earliest memories is watching some old version of "The Mummy" with some of the older kids in the hospital ward, late at night. Absolutely freaking terrifying. At least it was when I was six or seven years old.
Let's start off with the only movie that truly scarred me for life and gave me an honest-to-goodness phobia. I think this was sort of the perfect storm. I've always had an over-active imagination. This is a good thing for an aspiring writer, but maybe it wasn't so great for a scared little kid. I tried to google a name for this phobia. There are some phobias that are close, but not quite right, like for instance, aquaphobia (fear of water and swimming), thalassophobia (fear of the sea) and galeophobia (fear of sharks). None of these exactly describe what I felt, so I came up with my own name for it. Let's call it "scary-things-live-under-the-water-and-want-to-eat-me-phobia." The movie is, of course, Jaws.
I saw Jaws in the movie theater when I was eight years old. Now, don't be too hard on my parents. It was only rated PG, remember, and I was the kind of kid who watched scary movies on tv every Saturday afternoon. Can you believe they got away with giving Jaws a PG rating? I heard they invented the PG-13 rating because Spielberg kept pushing the limits with movies like Jaws, Gremlins, and Poltergeist. Okay, so I don't want to go into too much detail that would mirror much of a story/article I wrote called "Shark Bait," but let's say swimming anywhere that I could not see what was under me became a nightmare.
I'm not sure I even knew the movie was about a big man-eating shark when I went to see it. Remember that first scene, where the skinny-dipping girl get's attacked and bounced off the buoy? What a way to start a movie! It was so much worse because you didn't see what was happening below the water. You could only see the girl's terror above the surface as she got pulled back and forth by some unseen force. John William's musical score from Jaws is probably the most fitting and recognizable soundtrack ever. It does such a great job of building tension throughout the film. There are so many tense scenes in the movie, like the boys on the sailboat or when Richard Dreyfuss dives the wrecked ship and the head pops out at him.
Jaws is, for me, one of the scariest movies of all time. Oh sure, there are others that do an even better job of keeping you on edge for most of the film, and I'll get to them too, but Jaws made me afraid to swim for a long time. How many movies can claim their scares last for a decade or two?
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
After I finished writing the book, came the question, "what next?" Well, first of all I knew I needed to edit the book, but even more importantly, I needed opinions. Was it any good? I thought so, but since I wrote it, I'm biased. I needed some slightly more unbiased opinions. Naturally I reached out to friends and family, but obviously there will still be some bias there, because they want to be supportive. So I took a chance offering it out to some gaming friends on facebook. These were people I didn't know at all. I also made it available to some people who were in the same yahoo group as me. I've had mixed results with that experiment but let me offer this advice. Don't send anyone the PDF to anyone unless they have an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook. It became obvious to me that well-meaning people who thought they would sit down in front of their laptop and read it, really couldn't find the time.
My best friend and web designer, Mark Buckley, offered to help me with the book as sort of a side project. His wife Janet graciously agreed to do the editing. Reviews came back and, while there have been some minor criticisms, the response has been positive and encouraging. The side project has evolved into a team since we started working on it. This team consists of me and my wife, my brother Denny and his wife, Berny, and the aforementioned Mark and Janet. We all have very different personalities and I think that has been crucial to the dynamic of the team. We put together a business plan and started working towards weekly or bi-weekly goals. Everybody gets homework to take home.
Now, it helps to have a detail-oriented, spreadsheet-loving business manager like my friend Mark. Seriously though, if he could bottle up what he has and sell it to other aspiring authors, I would recommend it highly. You have to work on all those little goals, though. Being able to check off all the small accomplishments helps you get closer and closer to your ultimate goal, which is getting published. If I had tried to do this all myself, well, let's just say it would have been messy. If at all possible, build that team of people who believe in you and your book. I don't recommend trying to go it alone, and you know that is what most of you are doing. Good luck.