Man, I hate working with databases. MySQL, my ass. They're scary as Hell. I'm convinced at any single moment that I'm about to erase the entire membership list of the Horror Writers Association. Walking the crumbling edge of that precipice does not amuse me. I get grumpy, and then I get nasty, and then I take it out on innocent furniture.

For those who didn't notice,

it's Saturday. June 1. A great day for beginnings.

At midnight-ish, I launched the new layout of the site that I put together for them. It was quite a feat that put my coding, design, and patience to the test, but I got it. And I'm proud of it. Used Wordpress, but I had to jigger it lots to get it just like I wanted it. I couldn't find the perfect theme, so I took one that was close enough and adjusted it. I stretched a few web design muscles I didn't know I had. And I discovered I'm a super-genius! Woot. That's good to know.

Started the day with an avocado/collard green/carrot/banana/blueberry/milk smoothie. I am LOVING my new blender more than is natural.

First on the agenda was a little HWA webmaster support. Folks needing stuff. Add me to this. Take me off that. There's a link broken here. A forgotten password there. The usual. Believe me when I say there's more to being a webmaster than just putting together some web pages, especially for an org with over 1000 members. I have a staff! o_O

Speaking of the HWA, there's only a week and a half until WORLD HORROR CONVENTION!! In New Orleans. Yup, going back to N'awlins. And I can't wait. Love that city, and I love WHC. It's gonna be a great time. I get to hang with my best buds E and Chris. And, this year, a close friend, Alison, is going too. Her first time. Gonna show her the ropes.

Sent Ms. Kiernan the list of questions I want to ask her when I interview her at the convention. She's the author guest of honor, so it's kind of a big deal. I remember the first time I ever saw her. I was at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, somewhere in the mid-90s. She was tall, beautiful, and regal, in a gothy sort of way, and was hanging with Poppy Z. Brite. I've heard she's less gothy these days, almost 15 years later, as am I. Hard to believe I ever was gothy, but it's easier to pull off when you're younger and cuter. These days I'm more inclined to go for comfort than cuteness, but what can you do?

Still reading? Please watch this. It'll make you laugh.

And this:

Brilliant. Just brilliant.


I'm finding it hard to focus today. Maybe I need more caffeine. In 5 minutes, it's 7pm already. Day's almost done. Another one slides by. WTF.

Admittedly, I wasted a bunch of time at one of the celebrity gossip sites that have "lists" of things. Twenty ugliest celebrities. Fifteen worst sports injuries (don't look at that one!). Actually, don't look at either one of those.

Do, however, look at images of Emma Watson, who has grown up nicely. They led to images of Daniel Radcliffe who has also grown up quite nicely. (feeling pervy, changing subject)

So, there I was, watching Kitten Cam, when all of a sudden I remembered I had a workshop to plan.

Random Chunks of my Day!
  • My revised draft of the Narrative Design 101 book I'm writing is coming along great. I'm to the stage where I need to start shopping for agents or publishers. I welcome any suggestions. Now, I need to pull together materials for the Narrative Design Workshop I'm giving at World Horror Con. I plan to have handouts.

  • Blurbing someone else's book is awesome. I get an advance reader's copy, which makes me feel loved.

  • I am free! I finished the last of my kickstarter reward edits today. Happy dance.

  • Did I mention that Daniel Radcliffe is playing the lead role in the film adaptation of Joe Hill's HORNS? The novel is pretty damned…good.

And, I've discovered a new song I can't get out of my head.


Stranger Danger

CreepedOut1Just got this from a total stranger on Facebook.

"When you care about someone you had to show your feelings even in a simple way like sending a Take Care Messages as I sent you my feelings to you through wind & asked the wind to deliver it to you… So when you feel the wind blowing against you that’s my feelings,i am so happy to have you as a friend"


Writers Group

Guess what? I joined a writers group. It's my first step toward reconnecting with the fiction writer inside. I've been so focused on editing the work of others that I got off-track.

Helping others—service—has been a huge focus for me over the last 8 years. It's important that we give back. It's why I volunteer for the Red Cross, why I started, and why I edit people's short stories.

I'll still be working on others' stories in the writers group, but I'll also get quid pro quo from them. And it's rather delightful. Tonight, they gave me three viewpoints worth of feedback on my short story "The Last Zombie," and it was awesome! I can't wait to sit down (tomorrow) and do one or two final revision passes on it.

The little fiction writer inside me has taken a breath again. Tomorrow, she stretches.

I've been reading and re-reading Caitlín R. Kiernan's novels lately because I'm interviewing her at World Horror Con, and once again, I'm blown away by her prose. She has a knack for evoking dread and wonder that I rarely see in the books I read. Going back through her bibliography in a relatively short time has also allowed me to see her growth as a writer. It's fascinating to see the stylistic changes she's made from book to book, and to examine her choices of character and voice. She's clearly someone who takes her art seriously and who has taken risks with her writing.

Day after tomorrow, I kick-off a 90-day push to finish a first draft of my novel. May the word gods have mercy on my soul.


Vanity Lost

It's been awhile since I journaled regularly, and I'm starting to think that was a mistake. It's tough to find time, but that's a lame excuse considering the consequences.

Have you ever become such a workaholic that your life begins to fly by you, and you can't remember what day it is anymore? You can't remember who you are or what you wanted out of life?

Last night, I watched an interview with the goddess Stevie Nicks in which she talks about journaling, and how she's done it every night since she was 15. She talks about how life fades from memory, and how she's trying to capture it.

The older I get, the faster the days, weeks, months, memories go. It's kinda uncool. It makes me feel like I'm dying. Worse, it makes me feel like I've lost my voice.

So many projects, so little time, and this week, I'm on vacation, which means I'm scrambling like crazy trying to finish up all the little tasks left over from last year so I can move forward on June 1 with a clear plate.

The Deep Cuts Kickstarter is still consuming large portions of my time. I promised, as one of the rewards, that I'd edit folks' short fiction. It's been an awesome journey doing that, and the writers have been wonderful. I now have one more to go. I'll finish that one tomorrow, and then that's the last of the Kickstarter rewards I have to fulfill!! Yah, mon!

I've also been evaluating my goals for the coming year, something I usually do on my birthday, but was too busy to bother at the last one. I have a spreadsheet of all my projects, and I've rated them by income potential, joy, and time commitment. And from all those subjective figures, I've created a rather beautiful chart of what I should be working on. A couple simple truths came very clear as a result. First, I'm wasting too much time on a particular project that gives absolutely nothing in return. Second, I've been neglecting a project that has great potential to give me a lot in return.

So, priorities shifting. Can you hear the scraping and grinding of these old gears?

LJ, I may only be back for this fleeting moment and grasping at memories, but it's a start.

I'm still in here somewhere. I'm pretty sure.

Deep Cuts -- Look, Ma, we're doing a Kickstarter!

  1. How do we pay writers more?

  2. How can we do an anthology that shines a spotlight on women horror writers without leaving men writers behind?

These were the two big questions we asked ourselves when we were planning our anthology.

Oh, by the way, we're doing an anthology of short horror stories. It's called Deep Cuts, and we're having a blast with it. (See very unprofessional mock-up of the cover, at right; amazing art by German artist Anja Millen). We've put out the call for submissions (see link below), and we've kicked off our Kickstarter (link also below).

This whole Kickstarter thing is seductive. The more I pledge to projects, the more hooked I become.

Kickstarter is the answer to Question #1 above. If our Kickstarter is successful, we will increase how much we pay the writers we select for the anthology. Writers are notoriously underpaid, especially short fiction writers. The anthology will fly even if the Kickstarter tanks. Ah, but if it doesn't, then we'll do the anthology in style and set a new trend!

True Anecdotal Evidence
20 years ago, when I first started writing professionally, a pro rate was US$0.05 per word. For a 5k-word short story, that is $250. If you estimate that it takes about 24 total hours to do right by a story and produce something good, then you're getting a little over $10/hour. That was in 1992, when maybe some of you weren't even out of high school yet. Back then, that wasn't too shabby.

Now, it's 2012, and the pro rate is STILL THE SAME! It's the rare short fiction market that can afford to pay more than that, and if they can, they don't, because pro rates "are good enough."

Writers need to get paid for the amazing creativity and time spent creating fiction that curls your hair and makes your heart beat faster! If you'd like to help make that happen (it only takes $5 to be a superstar!), then visit our Kickstarter page. If nothing else, go see the silly video I made. LOL. I'm a book editor, Jim, not a film editor.

The book will come out during Women in Horror Month, so we're asking all submitters to include a recommendation for a short horror story by a woman writer that knocked their socks off.

This is the answer to Question #2. Any gendered or non-gendered person can submit to the anthology and get in (if the story is good enough and fits). But, each and every one of them must recommend a short story by a woman horror writer that floored them. In this way, we're not only giving readers a book full of terrific horror, but we're giving them a map to find the awesome stories they may have missed along the path (the deep cuts of the horror world).

I'll stop talking now, but come check out what we're doing! I welcome any comments and suggestions. If you feel like spreading this project around your social networks, I'll be ever grateful, and if you find it in your heart to help out these poor starving writers (of which I am not one, btw -- the editors will not have a story in the book), then I know they and I will be ever so grateful!

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