It is my firm belief that writing prompts are a waste of time. If you need prompting into creating a story to write about, perhaps you should find a different hobby to occupy your time. Prompts are for people that lack the imagination to explore on their own. If you are a user of prompt, don’t hate me. I was too for numerous years as I struggled to find my voice. The interesting thing is that I stopped struggling when I stopped using prompts and stopped strangling the voice inside me and allowed it to run free. The first story I did that for was the first story I sold.
I find that often when I look at prompts, I usually think that the writer of the prompt has a vivid imagination. They did the thinking for me, now all I need to do is paint by numbers and call myself an artist. Of course, that isn’t the truth of the matter. Many great stories have been born from prompts, but my gut reaction is that anything I would write would be cliché to the point of plagiarism.
How do you avoid this pitfall? Easy. Don’t use Prompts to stimulate your writing.
For those of you that feel like this is taking a tool out of your box, rest assured, I will tool your box all up with a suitable substitute. And here’s the key: INSTEAD OF USING WRITING PROMPTS, USE A SUBMISSION CALL
There are thousands of websites, Facebook groups, and even email lists for submission calls. And here’s the real kicker. Submit the story once you are done. Submit it if you think you lost focus on the call and went on a tangent about socks. Submit it if you think the publisher is going to hate it because your story is about fairies and rainbows and the anthology is about fierce beasts from mythology. Submit it if you think you are a hack writer that couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag (the key to writing out of a paper bag is to imagine it is a box instead, and then write outside of it). No matter the reason for your insecurities, write your story and submit it. Send it to an editor first though. It’s not a blog post for the love of God.
If you would like a good list of calls for horror, science fiction, and fantasy then check out http://ralan.com/
Search around and find the market that appeals to you the most. Searching the markets is a fun alternative to Candy Crush while on the shitter. Good luck with the search.
There is a lot of confusion about my new book. Many people are telling me that they are bored to death with zombies, that the zombie genre has been done to death, and that there is just no way to breathe new life into the zombie story. I agree. That is not what There are No Zombies in America is about. This book is far scarier than zombies. This book is about Americans.
The basic idea of the book is that there is a zombie apocalypse is all other continents, but there are no zombies in America, hence the title. Now think about that for a second. What fractions of Americans would you hear about? The average American would likely hear the news and worry, maybe even donate to a cause that will help in one way or another, but those are not the ones you will hear about. There are eight groups.
- World Leaders: Since the book was written right after the election, or rather in response to it, Trump is at the forefront of much of what happens. He is not a character in my book, but his policies on zombie prevention are discussed at length.
- Conspiracy Theorists: Where there are world events there are conspiracy theories. And somehow these fruitcakes still manage to get their voices heard.
- Religious Wack-jobs: In my heathen eyes, they are the same as conspiracy theorists only not as up to date. Religious Wack-jobs are as American as Scientology and Mormonism. But we all know who the most dangerous of all wack-jobs are, the ones that get heard from the most: Christians. And never forget this: Jesus was a zombie.
- Militias: A well-armed militia is the only thing that separates America from the civilized world. You know damn well that if zombies were reported as true then we would see the neighborhood watch transform into the neighborhood trigger happy militia.
- Authority: By authority I mean all the different forms that work together to create the police state. I’m talking Cops, Coast Guard, USPS Postal Inspectors, Secret Service, FBI, CIA, LMNOP… Wherever there is trouble they are there, hopefully helping, but…
- Media: of course they are going to be the loudest of all, but if Trump fed the media false stories about zombies, what would happen? What would happen if Trump loudly declared that “There are no zombies in America!” How would that get spun?
- Zombie Survivalists: I truly believe that more homes in America have a zombie survival strategy than have a fire survival strategy. And every nut would come out of its shell to share their strategy.
- Rationalists: Rational thinking people that put themselves out there are often the last to be heard and usually not understood until after they are dead.
These are the driving forces of my book. As for zombies, THERE ARE NO ZOMBIES IN AMERICA! How many times must I say it?
The Monk is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror novels ever. I don’t think it lived up to its reputation. I think the book shocked people back when it was written because people didn’t speak ill of monks and priests. Priests were revered as holy men. Since that time, priests have fallen from societies graces. I would sooner trust my daughter in the hands of your average beggar than with a priest (an un-average beggar). Starting the book with a view that most priests are sexual predators at the worst and sexual deviants at the best, I didn’t see anything shocking in the slightest in the entire book. I would say, if you own the book and don’t want to dredge through the entire thing, read the last 25 pages. It is the most action in the whole book and really a great ending.
The thing that struck me most was the way the book is told. The drum that is beat loudest in creative writing circles is to always show the story, not tell it. Lewis basically runs the gambit of he said-she said for the whole of the book. Styles change, and perhaps when it was written it was the style of the day, but it was a poor example of a well written book in today’s terms.
So I have been writing.
Want to know what I have been writing? Want to? Huh? Come on, you know you want to?
Well hell, I’m going to tell you anyhow. I recently typed the end to a book about America. It is a book about America and Americans and Trump and zombies.
I wrote a book about a zombie apocalypse, but there are no zombies in the book. The book takes place in America under the rule of President Trump in a time when the zombie apocalypse has ravaged the rest of the world, but no zombies have been spotted in America. Now stop for a second and think to yourself, how would the Trump voters in your life react to such an occurrence. Yep, all of that and so much more. If you are a Trump supporter, SCREW YOU! but also think about how the foolish liberals would react in the scenario. Yep, that’s in there too.
In my frustration of the election results, I wrote this novella and had a lot of fun doing it. I plan to release it on inauguration day. Stay tuned, and be sure to nab up a copy.
I have never been a huge Koontz fan. I view Dean Koontz as the McDonalds of genre fiction. Nobody really likes it, but a lot of people go there. Or maybe Coors Light is the better comparison since Coors light can do the trick, but you aren’t going to like it while it’s going down, and you may need to chase it with whiskey just to get the burn you need. The House of Thunder is very much a Coors Light. It is a novel with promise but no punch. It has a pulse but lacks a soul. Enough mixed metaphors? Okay, then let’s talk about the book.
First let me say that if you want to read this book, I suggest you don’t. It is crap, but if you insist, then stop reading this now. I will not hold back on spoilers. Deano spoiled it enough for everyone just by writing it.
Still reading? Okay then, let’s continue. The House of Thunder is a book about a young woman that wakes up in a hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Then she starts seeing people from her troubled past, people that murdered a childhood boyfriend. There is some wonderful scary bits in this first 100 pages, but Deano being Deano, spoiled it all to shit by having her start to uncover a conspiracy in the hospital. This fragile, emaciated woman that had just came out of a coma begins running around and seducing the doctor. Just when the whole story becomes completely unbelievable, Deano outdoes himself by having it be a town wide conspiracy. Everyone is in on it except for lover-boy Doc. Around this time you as a reader will be ready to leave the book on the transit bus for the next poor sucker to pick it up and waste several hours reading it, but I wasn’t that smart. I finished the book. Want to know the big kicker, the big surprise ending? It was Russians. Yep. Russians. Now, go read something else, something that really burns going down.
I found this entire book to be a bit of a teaser. There is some serious horror in the book, but it failed to scare the way the Lecter books do, even though that is the obvious comparison. There are several storylines going at once and I started to think it was in some way a strange The Bridge of San Luis Rey sort of story only about lives affected by a serial killer. But Saul Black was able to bring it all together in an unbelievable (but not impossible) way. This book failed on many aspects of being a great book, but if you are looking for a book that is fun in a twisted sort of way, this one may do it for you.
This is a sorter review than I think this book deserves, and I know it sounds harsh, but I feel giving away too much would be in poor taste.
This book was an interesting duality of fascinating subject matter about a subject that I really couldn’t care less about. Joshua Foer wrote a very good book about his personal journey from being a B-rate journalist to the National Memory Champion. The problem is, training for a memory competition is pretty boring stuff, incredibly boring really, mind numbingly god-awful boring. Yet Josh was able to write a book about it and make it interesting. The trick he used? It was the same trick that won him the championship. You take something boring and make it memorable by adding perverse, tantalizing details. By dispersing glimpses into the drunken debauchery amongst memory athletes, scathing accusations of savant fraud, and humorous antidotes Foer has made this a book I won’t soon forget.