Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing Wednesday (Revisting an Old Meme)

I'm reworking a few things and changing my approach to my various works-in-progress, so no Word Count Wednesday this week.  (All three works-in-progress ARE still in-progress; I'm just changing how I'm looking at them, which means reevaluating the targeted word count.)  I still wanted to do something writer-ly at Plan D, though, so I'm looking at an old post from my long-defunct LiveJournal. A meme was making its way around various authors' websites/blogs back then, and I opted to give it a go myself at the time. I'm most interested to see how my outlook may have changed in the past four years.

My present-day thoughts will be italicized.

A meme? A writing meme. (Originally appeared at my LiveJournal page, 7/25/08)

Over at his blog Razored Zen, Charles Gramlich posted A Meme for Writers, and while I only rarely participate in any kind of meme, because this one has to do with writing, and because I'd like to use it to help get the writing wheels spinning a bit faster, I wanted to throw a few words down here.

Your genre(s): I've always played in the realm of the "speculative fiction" and right now, I've got my head and pen firmly planted in the horror genre. Over the years, I've played with fantasy quite a bit, and back in high school, I dabbled in a little bit of science fiction, but I've always felt most comfortable weavewriting horror. Last November (for National Novel Writing Month), I attempted to bridge my interests in fantasy and horror and laid a lot of groundwork for a "dark fantasy" project, but after too many chapters in which the story felt more and more like your "standard" fantasy novel, I set it aside to focus on more short stories. (I may get back to it someday - I never throw away any of my writing.) I'd like to try writing in other genres some day - especially since some of the best writing includes elements from more than one or two(!) - but right now, horror (with a smattering of action) is calling me.

I still identify myself as a horror writer, and most of my writing these days would still be on the horror shelf at your local bookstore (if your local bookstore still has such a shelf). The dark fantasy novel attempt referenced above? I haven't touched it, but I still have it. And it will probably stay firmly trunked where it's at for a long, long time.  For years, I really struggled with the "urban fantasy" label, but I think I have to accept that MAYBE some of what I write might include elements from that sub-genre as well.

How many books are you working on now: Actively working on? Just one. Passively? I've got a handful of projects that are constantly brewing.  

Honestly, I don't remember what book that was. These days, I'm actively working on one novella and two non-fiction pieces.  The other pieces are bubbling inside my gray matter, patiently waiting for their chance to hit paper.

Are you a linear or chunk writer: I'm primarily a linear writer. I've tried writing in chunks, and it's gotten me in trouble before (in that I've written a particular scene detailing the demise of a character that was never intended to survive, but after writing that scene, I became attached to that character so much so that I didn't want to kill her off, and I ended up with more rewriting than intended!).

I'm still a linear writer, but I've been exploring working with outlines more and more, especially for the bigger projects. I think this still counts as being "linear" although I wonder what would happen if I wrote the outline in a linear fashion, but then used it to write the chunks of the story . . .

The POV you're partial to: I'm not a huge fan of first-person perspective. Some of the writers I follow do use this POV, and that's fine. When it's done well, it works well. However, I also sometimes find it to be a cheat. I'm partial to various forms of the third person point of view myself.  

I still tend to struggle with first-person perspective. It's a personal choice/preference, and to be completely honest, I've sometimes put first-person perspective stories down because it (fairly or not) takes more to hook me when I find out the new book I've started is written from a singular character's point of view
The tense you use: I write in the past tense.  

This hasn't changed for me at all.

The theme that keeps cropping up in your books: This was the hardest question for me to answer, and in all truth, I still don't know if I can come up with a satisfactory answer. A lot of my fiction involves characters that are somehow outsiders that a group of doomed "insiders" need in order to reach some sort of goal. Additionally, some sort of secret knowledge (creepy or otherwise!) usually ends up being brought out into the open in most of my stories. Does this all add up to some sort of theme? I don't really know, but I'll keep writing until I find out!

This still finds its way into some of my writing. Something else that's been cropping up is the concept of "found family." The idea of a group of non-related folks coming together and forming a family unit has appealed to be for years.

How many days a week do you write: The quick answer? Not enough! In truth, I'm writing only twice a week some weeks, which is pretty depressing. I need to make more time for it. (The podcast eats up a lot of my time - I love doing it, but I'm not overly comfortable with giving up my writing time for it. I'd be much more comfortable giving up the time I spend, oh, say, sleeping, instead.)

For the past couple weeks, I've been getting up around an hour earlier than I used to and spending almost an hour every morning writing. It's been REALLY good for me (thanks Jason and Joe!), and I'd like to think I've become a much more productive writer because of it. Additionally, I've been a LOT better at balancing my podcast-producing time with everything else in my life.  It's been GREAT!

What time of day do you get your best writing done: This varies. I've found that as long as I'm focusing on it, I can write pretty much any time of the day, although late nights often provide the least distractions.

Now?  The morning.

My favorite authors to read: I'm adding new writers to my "favorites" list fairly regularly, but those that I know I can always count on include: Robert E. Howard, Douglas Clegg, H. P. Lovecraft, Mick Farren and I'm very close to adding Edward Lee to that list.

Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft and Douglas Clegg are still on that list.  I haven't read Mick Farren for years before picking up The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys a few months back for a re-read of that book.  It's still a favorite of mine, but I can't say I've read a lot of Farren lately.  As for Edward Lee, I went through a Edward Lee spurt during which I read as much of his work as I could, but I haven't gone back to it, either.  If I were to add anyone to that list today, I'd add James Reasoner (I know I keep saying it, but I'm still shocked that I'm reading Westerns regularly these days).

Who are your mentors: I'm going to cheat here. I know very few successful writers "in real life". I follow a few through LiveJournal and MySpace, but I don't have a mentor-mentee relationship with any of them outside of my reading their work on a regular basis. Novels rarely come with "commentary tracks," so I rely on the experience of actually reading the work or following a writer's blog to pick up what mentoring I can.

In September 2010, I was fortunate enough to interview Douglas Clegg for an episode of MOZ Presents: The Munchies.  It was an absolute pleasure to speak with him for much longer than I think he really expected to chat with some zombie movie podcaster about non-zombie subjects, and we spoke a lot about writing in general.  I learned a lot during that conversation, and I'd like to think he's made my writing better because of it.  As for any formal kind of mentor-mentee relationship, I still follow and interact with some writers online.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Word Count Wednesday - 6/20/12

The sword-and-sorcery short story is finished; the first draft runs just over 7,100 words.  As with my recent Marc Temple story, I'm going to let it sit for a bit before taking another pass at it.

Having completed these two short stories, I'm looking at some longer projects right now.

TGEoBD (New non-fiction) - 1,100 / 40,000-50,000
Non-fiction-ish project - I'm changing the formatting on this AGAIN, and I have no idea how to track the progress on this, but progress IS being made.
KFRDZM (New fiction) - 0 / 50,000-60,000 - I'm circling this project right now, working up an outline, character cards and chapter cards.  I anticipate actual words being thrown at this by week's end.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I never thought I'd be one of THOSE people

For years, if left unchecked, I'd stay up late. REALLY late. 3, 4, 5 in the morning late. Then I'd struggle to get up for work or school the next day. Brenda and I would stay up late, hanging out, watching movies, working on projects, whatever. Of course, doing that on an all-too-regular basis makes most morning tasks REAL tough.

I liked sleeping in. I set my alarm clock to the minute to maximize pillow time before zipping through the morning routine and facing the day.

Almost two weeks ago, though, I started getting up early. On purpose.

And it's been good.

Now, I typically wake up anywhere from 5-30 minutes before my always alarm goes off, and in energized, feeling ready to accomplish a bit of writing before getting ready for work. It's been very productive for me, and my writing is definitely benefiting from this new routine.

Feels good. Feels real good. (And now that I'm getting up early every morning, the occasional Sundays when I need to get up early to podcast with my friends
2-3 timezones away, I don't need nearly as much coffee to sound like I know what I'm talking about that early in the morning!)

(Huge thanks to Jason and Joe!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Word Count Wednesday - 6/13/12

I finished the first draft of my Marc Temple "flash" piece Tuesday morning.  I'm letting it cool for a few days before breaking out the red pen.  I missed my "flash fiction" goal as it currently sits at just over 2,200 words, but I'm okay with that.

Sword-and-sorcery story: ? (By the time this post goes live, I will have given what I already wrote months ago a good once over.  I need to determine what to leave in and where pick back up)
Non-fiction-ish project: 35 / ~ 300 pages (due to the nature of this project, I'm tracking it by page count now)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gill-Man in My Mailbox

Came home to find this little treasure in my mailbox, and while this wasn't a particularly rough Monday, this was definitely one helluva nice way to start the evening.

This Crestwood House series of books is directly responsible for not just my monster movie fandom, but my interest in monster movie research as well.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Thursday Thirteen: Reflecting on the 2012 H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon


It's been about a month since the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon, and I'm STILL going through withdrawl. I love this festival. I look forward to it every year, and I'm already looking forward to the 2013 event (it's going to be long year!).

My Thirteen favorite things about this year's H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon are (in no particular order, except for the final entry):

1. The Hollywood Theatre. I know the festival didn't begin life at the Hollywood, but it's always been there as long as I've been going, and the staff has always worked to make the festival a pleasant experience. This year was one of the best years for the festival - they were well-stocked w/ their concessions, the theater was clean, everyone was friendly and made us feel welcome. (They also did a great job promoting their own upcoming events - I went back to the Hollywood for a fourth night in a row for a screening of Juan of the Dead because it was hard to miss the one-sheet hanging in the lobby!) And, let's be honest, the topsy curvy non-Euclidean hallway leading upstairs feels like something straight out of a Lovecraft short story!

2. The poster. I'm an Indiana Jones fan. I don't make any apologies about it (or about ...Crystal Skull for that matter - that responsibility sits with someoneGEORGELUCASelse). And it doesn't hurt that I've long wanted to experience some sort of Mythos-flavored fiction blended with the serial adventure stylings of the Indiana Jones films. I loved this poster design, and while I've never bought a t-shirt or poster at the festival before, this year I found myself (thanks to a good friend!) walking away from the festival with both a poster and t-shirt sporting this look.

3. The Shorts Blocks. I've said it before - the best thing about some of these film festivals are the short film collections. Over the years, it's gotten a little easier to track down some of these shorts online after the festival, but for the most part, you're only going to see some of these movies in a film festival setting. Stand out shorts this year included Doctor Glamour (for all the beautifully wrong reasons), The Curse of Yig (this is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, and I've been looking forward to this short for a long time) and Stay at Home Dad (mythos + bizarro = AWESOME).

4. The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. If I remember right, in my years of attending the show, there was only one year in which the HPLHS didn't attend the festival (but they were filming The Whisperer in Darkness, so I think everyone forgave them!). The enthusiasm of these guys is infectious, and I meant it when I walked up to their table, looked at everything they had for sale, and told them that they didn't have anything new that I haven't already picked up over the years.  I love what they release, and watching the presentation detailing the origins of the HPLHS wsa a lot of fun.  (Renting a helicopter for a live-action role-playing game?  To see a symbol drawn on the desert floor that can only be seen from above?!)

5. The popcorn. I don't know what it is about that popcorn, but it was SUPER addictive that weekend . . . and every time I've gone back to the Hollywood since the festival (like for Juan of the Dead or the Portland Grindhouse screening of Squirm), I've looked forward to that popcorn as part of the experience! (And you know a bag of popcorn is in the cards when I go back for the upcoming screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark!)

6. The readings. When I first started going to the festival, there wasn't much more than just the movies, but over the years, more and more literary events have been added to the mix. The addition of and increased attention to the readings and author appearances has paralleled my own creative drives, and I've been walking away from the event feeling energized and ready to throw some words down with Lovecraftian FORCE. I especially enjoyed W. H. Pugmire's reading, and I found another writer (Jay Lake) to add to my To-Read list.

7. No Poe. Now, I know . . . Lovecraft looked up to Poe. I respect Poe. I get Poe. I've got nothing against Poe. But I didn't miss Poe at the festival this year. It's just not my bag as much as Lovecraft and his contemporaries are.

8. Hellbender Media.  Like the HPLHS, this is another vendor that I've always looked forward to seeing at the festival (even if Edward Martin III only recently started going by the Hellbender Media name).  Edward is a fountain of excitement, a good friend, and a joy to watch as he interacts with other fans and potential customers.  The few years he's not been at the festival have been a bit dimmer with his absence.  (And I canNOT WAIT for Flesh of my Flesh to be completed!  Every time I see him, he's made just a bit more progress, and I'm looking forward to the day when I can ask him, "How's Flesh of my Flesh?" and he answers back by showing me the completed DVD.)

9. The House in the Port.  A few years ago, I met J. R. Torina at the festival.  He was talking with another friend (Bryan Moore, another guy who's presence is always missed), and I saw that he had some CDs of his original music with him.  We chatted a little about music, and then I saw he had some packets of paper stapled together in tow.  He told me it was his novel The House in the Port, and he gave me a copy of it.  I really enjoyed it, so when I saw him again this year and he gave me a book version of the novel, I was thrilled!

10. The festival volunteer staff.  Everyone knew what they were doing.  Things went super smooth, and no one let on if they were stressed or overworked or any of that.  Granted, I'm used to seeing cool-under-pressure on display at the festival, and it's nice to see that over the years, volunteers keep coming back to help out and help out in the best ways possible.

11. The festival directors.  I first knew Brian and Gwen Callahan as the folks behind Sigh Co. Graphics, which was another always present table in the vendors' room, and when I heard they were taking over the festival directing duties, I honestly didn't know what to think.  I shouldn't have been concerned.  Last year's October "mini-fest" was a blast, and the 2012 festival was FANTASTIC.  Andrew Migliore birthed a great thing when he launched the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, and Brian and Gwen have taken the ball and not only run with it, but already scored a touchdown or two.  Last October, Brian apologized for being nervous in front of people when he took to the stage (he did great!), and this year, he seemed like he'd been doing this for YEARS.  And Gwen is one of the sweetest people I've ever met while still rocking every event she presented.  She even followed up with me personally when there was some concern over the t-shirts (she didn't need to - there was no problem).  The festival's in good hands, gang . . .

12. The panels.  I regret that I didn't attend more because these are always a lot of fun.  As with the the readings, I found new artists and creators to follow (like Thomas Phinney), and it's always good to hear Robert Price speak about anything Lovecraft.  The highlight of the panels for me?  Getting to ask people like Price and my friends Jarred Wallace and Scott Glancy if we're all "a bunch of damned hipsters because we liked Cthulhu before it was COOL" during a Lovecraft in Pop Culture panel.

13. Barbarian Days. I only watched one feature film this year at the festival, and this was it.  While I might tilt my head a bit at seeing Poe represented at the HPL Film Festival, I always look forward to seeing more Mythos-flavored work from Lovecraft contemporaries.  And because I'm such a fan of Robert E. Howard, as soon as I saw that this documentary was playing this year, I knew I had to see it.  And I ended up watching it twice.  This documentary had quite an effect on me, and while it's been almost a month, this film is still resonating in my head.  I'm looking forward to an opportunity to buy this on DVD or Blu-ray as it's something I'm going to go back and watch again.  It was a powerful experience, and to have this played at this festival was oh-so-fitting.  As Brian pointed out when he presented the film, while the folks in this documentary may not dress the way most of us do at the HPL Festival, the attendees of Barbarain Days are very much like the Lurkers in their fandom and appreciation of Robert E. Howard.

(I'll likely revisit this film again here at Plan D later this year.)

HUGE thanks to Brian, Gwen, Andrew, the vendors, the guests, the panelists, the writers, the filmmakers, etc., etc., etc. for putting on such a great show this year.  It's going to be a long 11 months until the next one . . .

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Word Count Wednesday - 6/6/12

A lot of my writing time since last week was funnelled into prepping for the Kindle release of "Granny and the Hole."

Marc Temple Flash Fiction story: 952 / ~ 1,000
Sword-and-sorcery story: ~ 4,000 / ~ 7,500
Non-fiction-ish project: 6,824 / ?

I'm going to be taking stock again at the end of this week as the sword-and-sorcery piece is something that I'd really LIKE to finish, but it has been gathering cyber-dust for a while on my laptop, and as much as I hate to do it (in terms of pushing back the story's completion), I may need to start over (which, honestly, I'm okay with as I REALLY like the beginning of the story, so I don't mind giving it a quick once over).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Released - "Granny and the Hole"

"Granny and the Hole" is the name of my first self-e-published short story released on Amazon Kindle.  With a short story, there's not typically a lot of space for any sort of "Special Thanks" page, so I'd like to take a moment here to publicly thank some folks who've helped out in the creation and production of this short story (in no particular order except for the final entry): Edward, Terry, Scott, Tracey, Joe and The Arkham Society of Gentleman Scribblers.

And, of course (the best for last), Brenda.

The following is a copy of the press release I've sent to a handful of folks.  Please feel free to spread the word!

Derek M. Koch

Derek M. Koch, producer of the long-running zombie movie podcast Mail Order Zombie, released his zombie short story "Granny and the Hole" on June 3, 2012.  The story, a tale of a man who refuses to let death stand in the way of a relationship between his mother-in-law and his daughter, is available for Amazon Kindle as part of the Kindle Select program, or for purchase for $1.29.

In addition to producing Mail Order Zombie, Koch has directed an award-winning zombie short film, appeared as a character in other authors' zombie stories, and has seen his own zombie stories previously released in other publishers' anthologies.  "Granny and the Hole" is the first story released by Koch's Black Sombrero Publishing.

"Granny and the Hole" can be found on at  "Granny and the Hole" will be released for other e-reader formats later this year.

About Derek M. Koch

Derek M. Koch lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, his cats and his zombie movie collection which forms the basis of the award-winning podcast Mail Order Zombie ( The movie collection is for the podcast. His wife is “patiently” supportive. The cats are waiting for dinner.  He can be found online at his website Plan D at