Monday, September 28, 2015

St. Stephen's High MANIFESTO Issue 1 (November 12, 1996)


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Last month I told a story about how I made my first money as a writer by ripping off my high school literary magazine. It was a low point in my academic and literary career, trust me. Thinking about the story made me go back and dig up my old copies of said magazine, which sent me hurtling on a trip down memory lane.

Today, I'm going to take you along with me on that trip. Buckle in.

First to set the stage: St. Stephen's High School was a Catholic high school in the town of Stephenville, Newfoundland. I was actually a member of the last graduating class before it switched to the public school system in 1998 and was renamed simply Stephenville High.

The school was mostly known for its sports teams and bands (the organized, orchestral kind). Other arts, literature and drama were deemed far less important activities - the concert band and the school drama club actually had an ongoing feud for a couple of years that I may have to write about some day. There was actually a reference to the school prizing Math and Science above Arts and Literature in the lead Editorial of this very issue, which was kind of the impetus for starting this magazine in the first place.

I should also point out that, despite the environment, there was not one but TWO student publications circulating the school halls in 1996-97, which explains the context of this little note on the bottom of page one:

The Spartan Corner was our "official" school newspaper which had a lot more teacher involvement and was tailored more to material that the administration wanted the students to hear about. So, basically government media manipulation.

We balked against that and started our own paper where we could say whatever we wanted. This caused some minor controversies in later issues, but they were just that, very minor. The most controversial things in our debut issue was our lead essayist (the illustrious Mr Lee) complaining about people getting in his way in the hall:

Actually that's a lie, the most controversial thing in the issue was probably hidden in the French essay (coincidentally also by Mr. Lee). On the surface it was an examination of how French Immersion was treated poorly in our school system and at risk of dying out, specifically referencing the falling numbers of students in the program every year. However, there was also a couple of digs at the quality and qualifications of the English teachers in the school, which - since they probably couldn't read French - they likely didn't pick up on. A crafty guy that Mr. Lee. Probably explains why he didn't make Valedictorian, despite having the top grades as well as taking part in lots of sports and other intramural activities: somebody must have translated the essay for the principal.

Random Fun Fact: I stole the the William Hazlitt quote on the first page from the Quotable Quotes section of my parents' Reader's Digest magazine. This was before I had ready and regular access to the Internet, where else was I going to find appropriate quotes?
You will notice that I only have scans of the interior text pages; unfortunately I'm missing the cover and the comic strip. If I recall correctly, the body of the magazine and the artwork pages were printed separately and then collated together - I suspect this is a copy that was left over after we ran out of the art pages. While do I miss the cover, I don't mind not having the comic. I drew it and it was spectacularly bad. You'll see what I'm talking about when I get to Issue #2.

That being said, if anyone who attended St. Stephen's High School in 1996 and has a copy of the cover or comic PLEASE scan it and send me a copy. I will be your best friend forever.

I would amiss if I didn't take a moment to comment on the absolutely atrocious formatting. I remember vividly the first issue being messed up; I had given the files to someone else to print and they printed like 50 copies without noticing that the font was wrong, the pages had all shifted and the page numbers were screwed up. I was so pissed that I took Draconian hold over the layout and wouldn't let anyone else touch the set up or printing for any of the future issues. It's a bit of a obsessive control streak I maintain to this day, and may have something to do with my choice to self-publish.

The white space was a not a design choice. The other half of the poem is on the next page. The table of contents also says it was supposed to be on page 7. Nineteen years later and this still makes my blood boil.
I guess I can't get away with talking about this issue without talking about the story I contributed to it. The Blade of Destiny: First Act is the first chapter of a serialized short novel/long story I had intended to publish in each issue of The Manifesto. It was supposed to be six parts but I think I only got through four during the Manifesto's run. It's about a poor young peasant boy who never knew his father and has strange dreams of a magic sword. In this part he meets a mysterious figure who says he has to claim the sword and face his fears in the dream in order to reclaim his destiny. He does of course, and somehow pulls the sword out of the dream along with him.


It's... not terrible. It's not good, either, but it's perfectly perfunctory. The prose is kind of awkward and definitely too wordy (twenty fucking years later and I'm still dealing with that), not to mention I used every single possible lazy fantasy trope I could think of (the sword is embedded in a stone, for crying out loud). It was also surprisingly dark. The boy's mother is a depressed drug addict and he discovers over the course of this chapter that's he's cursed because his father was a coward who abandoned his family. It's kind of depressing. This was during a time when I took my writing and my fantasy way too seriously, before I found that you can (and should) find humour in everything, even (and especially) tragedy.


Hopefully you didn't mind my little trip down memory lane. If you're interested in checking out my more recent (and slightly better) writing, my first book Ten Thousand Days is now available at Amazon and many other booksellers worldwide. I'm also in the middle of crowdfunding a new book at Inkshares.com. Head over there to check it out.
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Interview with Jay Lockwood, Author of "A Beast Requires"


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When conspiracies threaten to plunge Aurum into civil war, the city's only hope is Deputy Constable Albicon Pine. Unfortunately, it’s his first week on the job.

You're heard it many times, but I'm currently taking part in a contest on Inkshares.com in an attempt to win a publishing deal for my book. You may be surprised that mine is not the only book in the contest (there's about 325 more, to be precise). You should not be surprised that many of those other books are very, very good.

A Beast Requires by Jay Lockwood is one of those books that looks incredibly promising. It's a comic fantasy and judging by the excerpts posted so far, it looks to be right up my alley.

The book looks so good that I decided to ask the author to stop by to tell us a little more about himself and how he wrote the book.

THE INTERVIEW!

What is your favourite genre? I’ve been a fantasy nerd ever since I received a used copy of The Hobbit in second grade. I loved mythology and history, wanting to be Merlin or Friar Tuck when I grew up rather than anything realistic or sensible. I did go through a phase where I wanted to be Calico Jack, and by phase I mean most of the 90’s. I was a miserable kid. Being grounded all the time limited my choices of escapism. Fantasy hit me like a ten pound sword, taking me to where the dragons roamed. Fantasy got me through some dark times, and saved my life on more than one occasion.

Is there any genre you won't write? I’m a comedic mashup writer. I love smooshing together genres to create something interesting, or if that fails, amusing. I don’t think I’ll ever write a standalone genre novel. My attention span isn’t there for it, so I’m more likely to write a post-apocalyptic horror romance western than straight up sci-fi. That could change down the line, but for now I’m sticking with my comedic mashups.

Do you have any odd writing habits? I have dreadful anxiety, so I live in a world overrun with ritual. Before I sit down to write, I blast a song that embodies the tone I’m attempting to set. I close my eyes and listen, letting the characters run around my imagination and dance. While writing A Beast Requires, there was a lot of folk punk. I also utilize aromas to get myself in the right headspace. Smell is a powerful trigger, and I go through scented candles and incense like crazy.

At what point in writing a book do you have the most fun? While it is aggravating to get there, I have the most fun when I’m diving into the third draft with reckless abandon. I’m adding jokes and scenes that crack me up, loving every strange and wonderful detail before I cut them all in draft four.

Do you have conversations with your characters? Well, yea, in a roundabout sort of way. I have conversations with my characters as other characters. The majority of my dialogue is formed this way, usually while in the shower or doing dishes. There is a cadence to language, a hidden rhythm when we’re excited or screaming against the wind. It’s why some dialogue lives on well past the lifespan of the character. Also, accents are fun. And, yes, even the terrible ones.

If you could have dinner with one character from your book, who would it be? I’d invite C.C. Rilley from A Beast Requires without hesitation. He’s a deputy with the constabulary, and their resident wizard and alchemist. He’s a total nerd and specializes in forensic gastronomy. Dinner conversation would be fast moving and covering a range of topics as we each talk over each other with flailing hands and excited tones. Plus he’s cute, and there may be breakfast the following morning.

If you could have dinner with one character from someone else's book, who would it be? I’d have to say Archie Goodwin from Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels. It’s all about the conversation, and he is a fellow Ohioan. He’s lived an interesting life, including working for Nero Wolfe, and loves poker and dancing. He’s bring along Fritz to cook, and having one of the top chefs in the world fix dinner is an opportunity you don’t pass up. Having Timothy Hutton as my mental image of him doesn’t hurt either. The man is dreamy. There is also the potential for breakfast.

Do you ever cast your characters with Hollywood actors? Not until I’m well into the second draft. Characters begin as a fluctuating mass of concepts and ideas that change as I progress. I keep a running tally of things they do and situational responses throughout the first draft, seeing where there personality interacts with the story. That’s when they really begin to take shape, and as they form, that’s when their mental image is cast. There is one exception involving Nathan Fillion, but isn’t he always the exception?

Describe yourself in three words: Always Be Gnoming

THE BOOK!

When conspiracies threaten to plunge Aurum into civil war, the city's only hope is Deputy Constable Albicon Pine. Unfortunately, it’s his first week on the job.

A comedy with a body count, A BEAST REQUIRES has a bit of everything: riots, royal plots, forensic gastronomy, interspecies politics, and a collection of historically significant chamberpots.

THE WRITER!

JAY LOCKWOOD battles word counts alongside D20's and dragons. He lives in Kent, Ohio, and is owned by three cats.

THE LINKS!

Inkshares campaign: https://www.inkshares.com/projects/a-beast-requires
Twitter: @EremiticFool

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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Battle Rages On


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Remember that Inkshares contest I'm signed up in, trying to get my book published? I think I've mentioned it a couple of times, right?

Well, there's less than 2 weeks left, and I'm sitting at about 50th place out of 322 entries. So, far from the top 5 you need to be in to score the publishing deal, but still it could obviously be much worse. Of course, even if I don't win I have until mid-November to score 1000 pre-orders, which would also get the book published.  So who knows? Maybe there will be a big rush for horror-comedy books about pro-wrestlers and demons stalking Toronto this Halloween.

Anyway, my book got featured alongside some other great Inkshares works on The Warbler earlier today. Some of those books are in contention to win, others aren't, but they're all placed side-by-side for you the reader to judge for yourself.

And that's ultimately the beauty and goal of Inkshares: To let the readers decide what they want to read and what deserves to be put to print. I would love for you to go and support my book RIGHT NOW, but while you're at Inkshares, look around and see if there are any other books you might find interesting. There are a lot of very talented people trying to catch a break, and you might find just the kind of book you would really love to read. When that author one day becomes a New York Times Best-Seller, you can say that you were there on the ground floor helping to get his or her first book out there.

So yeah, what I'm trying to say is go out there and try something new. You might find something you really like, or the next big thing.

Which is of course going to be Hell Comes to Hogtown, but you've already ordered it and you knew that, right?

Check out the trailer, if you haven't already...



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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

GUEST POST COVER REVEAL: Salem's Daughters by Stephen Tremp


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Today we have a sneak peak at an upcoming book by author Stephen Tremp, and I gotta say it sounds intriguing. Read the Amazon page for the full blurb, but the main set-up: Salem witches reincarnated at cats terrorizing a New England bed & breakfast by murdering guests (!) sounds like something right up my alley. 


Stephen Tremp writes speculative fiction and his fourth novel, Salem’s Daughters, is a supernatural thriller. A four hundred year old evil is unleashed when souls of the daughters of those killed during the Salem Witch Trials find a new generation of people to murder at a popular modern-day bed and breakfast.

 For a full synopsis and to pre-order a copy of Salem’s Daughters for just $2.99 (price goes up to $4.99 soon after release) Click Here!
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Monday, September 14, 2015

Interview with C.D. Gallant-King


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On Saturday I had a little interview with Justin Knight on Writers Talking - we spoke about Hell Comes to Hogtown and my first book Ten Thousand Days, as well as quite a bit about Inkshares, self-publishing and writing in general. We also went off on a tangent about the new "Lady Ghostbusters" movie for some reason. 
Anyway it was a whole lot of fun and so if you want to learn more about me and the horrific tales of murder and terror I wrote as a child, you can check out the stream here:
I had a ton of fun, I always enjoy this type of conversation about writing, how we write and why we write. I'd like to think it's useful and entertaining information for folks - like myself Justin and at least a few or my readers - who are just getting started in indy-/self-publishing, or for people who are just fascinated in the art of writing and storytelling and want to know more about the process.
It helps that Justin has a British accent and makes the whole thing sound a lot more important and fancy. He was super professional and even though I was this close to being late (ever since I've had kids I've been late for everything) he covered and we got rolling without a hiccup. 
And hey, for any other writers out there who would like to have a similar chat with Justin, he's a nice guy and would love to hear from you. You can reach out to him on Twitter @OptimusJut
As always, if you want to learn more about Inkshares (which is large part of the conversation) or my upcoming book Hell Comes to Hogtown, just click on the giant link below:

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Hell Comes to Hogtown Book Teaser Trailer


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Step into my parlour...

I always thought book trailers were kinda cheesy... but like a good horror movie, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Check it out...

I spent the long weekend putting together a little trailer for Hell Comes to Hogtown, which is currently funding on Inkshares. The trailer's kinda fun and goofy while hopefully a little disconcerting, which is exactly what I'm going for with the book. You will also catch glimpses of some fabulous photography by Jason Salvatori, which will be incorporated into the new cover art. Look at me, I'm sneaking teasers into teasers.

Please check out the trailer and let me know what you think. If the book interests you, head over to Inkshares and pre-order a copy. You get a digital copy of Ten Thousand Days for free and if Hogtown doesn't fund you don't get charged a thing.

If you think you know somehow who might like the book (or the trailer), please share it! Every share and order gets me closer to getting Hell Comes to Hogtown on bookstore shelves. If it funds I'll be your friend forever. Pinky swear!



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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IWSG September: This Is Another Fine Mess You've Gotten Yourself Into


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Last month I discussed the struggles I was having with my work in progress, trying to wrangle it into some semblance of a coherent novel. Progress has been slow but study, like hacking through a jungle with a dull machete. And the mosquitoes are the size of swallows. African swallows, not the European variety. I have received some good feedback from beta readers, but that only led to even more revisions and headaches.

So what's the next logical step to make when faced with such a task?

Why, submit the book to a crowdfunding competition, of course!

There are more details here, but here's the short version: I've signed up for Inkshares, a publishing crowdfunding site that takes "pre-orders" for book ideas. If you sell at least 1000 pre-orders, Inkshares will edit, design, print, market and distribute your book. It's like the most democratic publishing house ever, letting the readers (instead of an editor) decide what gets published. Of course, if you don't hit the threshold the backers don't get charged anything (though they will have to suffer with missing out on my fabulous book).

In theory, it's a great idea. In practice, there's no way I'm hitting 1000 friggin' pre-orders. That's way, way more copies than I sold of my first book (now available on Barnes & Noble). Running a program like this takes massive prep-work to build up the proper network of potential buyers. I'm a total idiot for rushing into it when I did. Why didn't I wait until I was better prepared?

I blame Chris Hardwick.

You know, this bastard. The guy who holds your hand when your favourite character dies on The Walking Dead.
Yeah, that Chris Hardwick, the CEO of the Nerdist and host of one of the best podcasts on the web. See, Nerdist is running a contest until September 30: the top five pre-ordered fantasy/sci-fi books on Inkshares by the end of the month will get published, regardless of whether or not they're going to reach their threshold. Nerdist will also pick their favourite book out of the batch to be the first official title under the Nerdist publishing banner - a huge break, by my estimation. Most importantly, I'm also working under the assumption that the winner may get a chance to be on a Nerdist podcast, which is honest to God one of my secret life's ambitions. I actually saw this as my shot.

Two weeks into the contest, the top ranking books have 300-400 orders already, and could easily hit full funding before September 30 with or without Nerdist help. I'm sitting at 32. I'm not at all surprised, but I will admit I'm still pretty discouraged. I know logically that I simply don't have the bandwith and readership to fund a project like this. Like I said at the top, under normal circumstances I never would have even considered trying at this point in my writing career. But because it filled a weird pocket fantasy, I kinda hoped it would work out, you know? That I could slip in through the back door.

One of my favourite parts of Inkshares is that it shows you exactly where your orders come from. The lonely guy over in Japan is of course Phil. And I may be one of the few authors with a reader north of the 63rd parallel.
Not that I haven't tried. I've bugged every friend and family member I could think of, contacted every group and forum I'm a member of online, touched base with other authors in the contest to exchange orders. I've been all over Twitter and Facebook, especially Twitter trying to get celebrities to post about the book (whether they knew what they were talking about or not, I can't say). Hell, I even got Chris Hardwick's mom to retweet me. And I will continue to do so, and to continue polishing the book and giving those who ordered whatever perks I can find, including preview chapters and sneak peak at artwork and maybe even a video of me reading the prologue while stark naked. That last one was my wife's idea by the way, it hasn't been made official yet. But I am fully cognizant that this probably won't work (honestly the naked read thing isn't much of a selling point).

Censored for your health and safety.
As of now, I'm accepting that I'm likely going to have to go about this the regular way: either submit my book to traditional publishers or publish it myself. I do think it has promise. I think it will very much appeal to a certain audience who like dark humour. It could very easily be the start to a series. I know this book will see the light of day some way or another. And there will be another book after that, and another book after that. Maybe some day I will get on the Nerdist podcast of my own accord (though probably only if one of my books is turned into a movie, I don't think he generally interviews lowly writers). I know this is not the end, not for me, not even for this book. I will take this whole situation as a learning experience and suck up my pride and keep going.

But, until September 30, I've gotta keep trying.

Which reminds me:

You wanna pre-order a copy of my book? I'll throw in a Smashwords download of Ten Thousand Days for free...

;-)

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group here.
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