Thursday, May 31, 2012

Too many books at once . . .

We’ve got books all over the place: the bedroom, the closet, the living room, the dining room, sitting next to my computer, on my kindle wherever I happen to leave it sitting, etc.  The problem is that I typically don’t take the books with me from location to location whenever I start reading one.  Because of this, despite my inability to really track more than one fiction book at a time, I’ve got a handful of books “in process.”

Drives me nuts.

Right now, I'm working my way through two collections, which does make my multiple-simultaneous-readings a little easier to handle. The Robert E. Howard Reader edited by Darrell Schweitzer and Dreams In The Fire: Stories and Poetry inspired by Robert E. Howard edited by Mark Finn and Chris Gruber are sitting around here somewhere.  My Robert E. Howard fandom was sharpened after seeing Barbarian Days at this year's H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, and while I've read both of these collections before, it's great to go back and revisit these stories and essays while being able to put some faces to some of the by-lines' names.

(I suspect I'll post more about Barbarian Days in the future here at Plan D.  I know I'll - finally - post about the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival soon . . . )

I'm also rereading The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys by Mick Farren.  I started out strong when I first cracked this paperback open again.  This was one of my favorite novels back in junior high school, and while I'm still enjoying the novel today, I'm finding even more in looking at the book and thinking about how it might have shaped me as a reader and writer.  It's a heavy science fiction book for an 8th-grader to get through considering some of the subject matter, and having changed quite a bit since then, I'm finding connections, enlightenments and just new meanings in the book.  I started rereading this several weeks ago (I'm around 75% finished with it now), then let it sit on the side of the bed for too long as I started going back to the Howard collections . . .

. . . and Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong by Mark Cotta Vaz.  This is another book I started, then let myself get distracted enough to read something else . . . excuses, excuses.  The thing is, this is a FASCINATING read.  I had NO IDEA Cooper did as many things as he did before entering the film industry, and everything he accomplished before creating King Kong.  The book is well-written and broken up into small page-or-two chunks that make it all too easy to sit aside, unfortunately, when I'm in the middle of something else.  I still dip into the pages a few times a day, though, and every time I open the book, I'm excited to learn more about Cooper and his friends and colleagues.

Right now, I've got a lot of other projects on my plate - writing, podcasting, etc. - but I'm glad that I'm able to spare a few minutes here and there to ground myself in the pages of a book.  (And don't get me started on the random stuff I have on my kindle!)  Now if only I could make myself focus on one at a time so I could actually finish them up . . .

. . . because there are plenty of other books to get to, I'm sure!

(There will be no Word Count Wednesday this week.  It's not that I'm not writing; I just managed to mismanage my non-writing time and needed to spend most of it working on the post-production of the latest episode of 1951 Down Place.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Word Count Wednesday - 5/23/12

I'm going to take a filmmaker-type approach to my various writing projects moving forward, and for my Word Count Wednesdays, I won't talk too much about the writing that's in either pre- (research, outlining, planning, etc.) or post-production (formatting, editing, looks for markets, etc.). Rather, this weekly check-in will ONLY be for my writing currently in production. And instead of listing EVERY piece of writing in various stages of production, I want to focus only on what I'm working on RIGHT NOW. (I'm making a sort of rule for myself here - if I talk about the project here at Plan D, I don't get to stop talking about it on Word Count Wednesday until the piece is finished.)

Marc Temple Flash Fiction story:  463 / ~ 1,000
Sword-and-sorcery story: ~ 4,000 / ~ 7,500
Non-fiction-ish project: 6,824 / ?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Word Count Wednesdays

Later this week/weekend, I'll post my thoughts on last weekend's H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, but for now, I can quickly say I had a great time, and I walked away from it feeling creatively jazzed.

To keep the jazz going and flowing, I'm starting a new weekly feature here at Plan D. Admittedly, it will be a feature/tool for me more than you, but I like the idea of public accountability for my writing.

So next week, I'm starting Word Count Wednesday. I'll whip up a template to use every week (so that I'm not cutting into my writing time too much), and I'll post my writing progress. I'm not doing this to show off or boast and brag about where I am on my novel/novella/whatever, and I reserve the right to drop this experiment if it is becoming too much of a distraction.

There will be no word count posted today, but between now and next week I'll be talking inventory of my various writing projects so I'll be better prepared to start on May 23rd.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Thursday Thirteen: My Convention Bucket List

As I've been looking forward to the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Crypticon later this month, my brain has been in "convention-mode." I've been thinking about the great events I've attended so far this year, as well as the fantastic times I've had at previous years' events. Honestly, before launching Mail Order Zombie in 2008, the idea of going to ANY conventions, horror or otherwise, seemed ridiculous, but I've been fortunate enough to travel to a handful of different states for various conventions, and it's been a blast.

And now I want more.

For this Thursday Thirteen, I've put together a bucket list of conventions and festivals that I'd like to attend at least once. (I'm excluding any cons and festivals I've been to before, but for the record, I definitely wouldn't turn down a return trip to any of the events we've already been fortunate enough to attend!) In no particular order . . .

1. Monster Bash. My friends over at the B-Movie Cast talk about this convention on their show quite a bit, and I've had other folks mention it to me over the years. I've even seen the Monster Bash - Origins DVD. This event sounds amazing, and one of these years, I'm going to start attending this convention.

2. Emerald City Comicon. I drifted away from most comics a few years ago, but I've been feeling a slight pull back to the four-color floppies recently, and have even been writing some superhero prose lately. With Emerald City Comicon happening less than four-hours-by-car from me, you'd think I would have attended this by now, but it hasn't happened . . . yet.

3. Monsterpalooza. This ALMOST happened for me this year. Financially and timing-wife, we came VERY close to putting me on a plane and sending me to Burbank for the weekend. It would have awesome to connect with old friends like Daniel Horne, and, really, since one of the best things about attending new horror conventions is meeting and making new friends, going to a convention in a different part of the country with a different crowd of people would be a lot of fun.

4. Wonder Northwest. I missed this last year, and I'll be missing it again this year (it's the same weekend as Crypticon), but to have a Portland-based convention calling itself an "amalgamation of pop-culture subcultures" right around the corner from my home base . . . you'd think I would already be a regular attendee of this young convention! (There's always next year if the calender plays nice, right?)

5. Chiller Theatre Toy, Model and Film Expo. I've never been to the East Coast (outside of a junior high school trip to DC), and, again, there's the whole "different con, different new friends"-thing going on here, but it wouldn't be ALL new friends because I know the Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead crew have hit up this convention in the past. (And as an added bonus, I'd get to see The Dead Elvi perform live, too!)

6. Comic-Con International. This looks absolutely crazy. Friends have come back with war stories of glory describing this event, and some day, I will go myself.  But I have to be honest - I'm a little scared. It looks near-overwhelming, and the idea of standing in line for hours to get into a 50-minute panel doesn't sound like the most exciting of times, but somehow I feel like I wouldn't be allowed to be buried with my Geek-Cred Card if I don't attend Comic-Con at least once in my lifetime. 

7. Any premiere for a Christopher R. Mihm film. While I suppose this wouldn't technically count as a festival or convention, but it's still an event I'd like to attend. I'm a huge fan of the retro-moviemaking magic Mihm and company produce, and to sit in a theater with other fans and the cast and crew while watching the first public showing of the latest Christopher R. Mihm production would be amazing. Attack of the Moon Zombies was one of my favorite DVD releases last year, and I can't wait to see House of Ghosts. I'll have to settle for watching it on DVD when it's released, but one of these days . . .

8. The B-Movie Celebration. Scott and Tracey have been going to this for the past several years, and every year, they regale me with stories of the movies they've seen and how they've seen them (super secret showings, restored historic theaters and a drive-in!). I'm jealous! I could bounce from screening to screening during this Celebration, and be a very happy Derek.

9. Robert E. Howard Days.  I love my zombie movies, my Hammer Films, my monster-stuff, my horror movies and the like . . . but I also have a few non-horror-genre-specific loves, and one of them is the writing of Robert E. Howard.  His best known work provided the inspiration for the Conan the Barbarian franchise, but he's so much more than that.  He wrote in a variety of genres, penpal'ed with the likes of H. P. Lovecraft, and has been inspiring me with the words he wrote 40-60 years before I was born.  My high school creative writing teacher introduced me to his work (beyond Conan), and I've been a fan ever since.  I've dabbled in Howard fandom, and I would love to get down to Robert E. Howard Days at some point.  (And since it's been announced that Barbarian Days will be shown at this year's HP Lovecraft Film Fest, I'm now even MORE excited for this weekend!)

10. MythosCon.  Sure. I've got the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival up here in Portland, but down in Arizona, there's MythosCon.  Looking over the event's website paints MythoCon as a more scholarly event than the HPLFF, with probably fewer film screenings, but it still looks like a lot of fun, and one can never learn too much about Lovecraft, right?

11. Dragon*Con. I haven't thrown a d20 in a long time, but just as Comic-Con International has turned into something more than celebrating the comics, I get the impression that Dragon*Con has become more than gaming (but not to the same overshadowing extent that Comic-Con has become regarding comics), and I'd find plenty to do.

12. World Fantasy Convention. I listen to a lot of writing podcasts, and since most writing podcasts that deal with any kind of genre seem to (for better or worse) focus mostly on fantasy, science fiction and various sub-genres beneath those two umbrellas, I get to hear about this traveling convention every year.  It sounds to be more geared toward those working in the writing field as well as those working TOWARD actually working (as in, getting paid to do it), and it sounds like I'd learn a lot at a convention like this.  And since we're talking fantasy here, I can fantasize about going next year, right?  You know, when it's held in Brighton.  In the UK.  Starting on Halloween night.

13. World Horror Convention.  As with the World Fantasy Convention, this is another traveling annual event catering to professionals working in the horror literature field.  Someday, I would like to belong to the Horror Writers Association, and the WHC looks like a fun time with plenty of opportunities to network . . . and MAYBE fanboy out JUST a little bit.

(Honorable mentions - ComiCONN. Cinema WastelandTusConTexas Frightmare WeekendSpooky EmpireAnd a Friends of the Magic Gathering.)