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Friday, August 18, 2017

Review: Every Book, Class, Video, Pamphlet About How to Write and why all of it is crap

So you want to be a writer. Noble enough I guess, although everyone it seems, including journalists are writing fiction these days. With the competition that thick, let me ask you; do you have something to say, do you need to purge or are you just wanting to be famous?

This is an important base line question and at the root of this.

Famous of course is the answer I hear most.

I want to be famous too. I want to live forever. I want to learn how to fly -- high. But unlike Irene Cara I need to write because I am under the gun to do so. I need to purge.

Keep this in mind.

The first rule of writing is be yourself and not someone else.

Be yourself and not a fan writing in the style of another. It shows. It comically shows especially to the least literate out there. Oh you may fool some of the people, but your representation for being so and so light will leave you hollow.

The second rule of writing is that the fame you crave may come later.....later while you are moldering in a padded box beneath the dirt.

Patience my deceased father stressed to me, particularly after he passed, is the reality and key. Promote yourself, yes, but understand people love praised and awarded shiny baubles that rust and history is littered with those popular manure drops. Read your history. Time is the best judge.

And that is the next rule: Read, read, read.

In order to to understand your craft you need to understand from whence you came. Reading the best pushes you to be better. Reading the best gives your chosen genre a context. This will give breadth to your rawness.

While you are reading DON'T read any book about how to write. Books about writing are generally written by people who have no bibliography other than writing books about writing. See where I am going?

If you have something to write ----WRITE. Do not waste your your time wrapping your brain and your creativity around failed writers' invocations and those insipid exercises about apples and bananas.

These are snacks not literary devices.

To that end let me preface this next step on the yellow brick I have belonged to writers groups. Early on when I was dumb and lacked confidence. But you will find most of these people are wannabes. They continue to work on the same project for years without ever sending it out to a publisher.

A romance writer knows nothing about horror. And frankly other horror writers who think they have channeled other crappy horror writers of their present day will only try to derail your good idea if and when they recognize it.

The rule then is writing is lonely. The story is coming from you not a committee of hacks who have never been eye to eye with anything other than their own selfish dreams.

And to that end when alone you have to write for yourself. Don't try to be popular. Everybody wants to be popular and why lose yourself in a crowd? You want to stand out.

Be thick skinned. You have to believe in what you are doing and your writing must express that. This can't be taught or manufactured; you either have it or not.

And while I have taught classes. I never really taught. I mined. I mined the souls in front of me to find that engine in each and every student to focus on the real reason we should all have to become writers: To create a long lasting art.

And it is all about art. It is all about immortality.

And it should be; out of YOUR intellect, YOUR heart and YOUR gut.

Your inspiration should be you.

Your writing should be for all time.

Shoot for that and you will never get writer's block again.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To the Blog...

I discovered that my identity was stolen. I discovered it Sunday before completing this article. So I apologize for the lateness of the publish. All is calming down and I am me, solely and completely, again. And now may the show go on......

Today's title....."It's Getting Hot In Here".

The next time you read or watch the film classic CARRIE I want you to remember and ponder.

Then I want you to visit YOU TUBE.

Please then search for the much underrated paranormal series ONE STEP BEYOND; a black and white 1950s gem that both entertained and spawned wonder. It certainly was not the equal of the TWILIGHT ZONE or even THE OUTER LIMITS, but the series was solid and well executed.

In 1959 the episode titled THE BURNING GIRL hit the screen. Starring a young Luana Anders, who later became a class A scream queen and Edward Platt, who would find himself as the Chief of Control on Get Smart; the episode serves as a table setter for Sissy Spacek's prom.

The story centers on a young woman on the crest of leaving life as a teenager and entering adulthood. The story finds our heroine without a mother, a very busy and somewhat absent clueless father, who lives with his sister. And is she ever cruel.

She despises youth. She despises beauty. She despises everything she left behind in her own life, a life that certainly didn't turn out to be what she hoped for. And she despises her pretty little niece.

In response young Luana turns to fire; not with matches but with emotion. Any spike in her hormones spontaneously sets a raging blaze. She can't control it, she can certainly light up a room.

The story is simple and taken from the many cases, or lore of the day, straight from Charles Fort's collection of spontaneous human combustion tales. It is well acted and well written.

The climax is open ended and well crafted, even though you seem to be left in the middle of the tale. But this kind of an ending somewhat reminiscent of the film INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (the original of course) is effective in its own way.

Go on, give it a look. And then turn your attention to the starker vision of CARRIE whose tug of war polemic is much darker and effective.

Yes, there are parallels but they are very different. Different for their times and for their vision of what the idea would become.

Enjoy them both and light a fire under your imagination and curiosity.

Goodnight from me. The real me.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Review: Black Pantheons: Collected Tales of Gnostic Dread by Curtis M. Lawson, Wyrd Horror, 2017, 131 pages

I have had a hard month. Despite the time etched on the calendar I have had a cold month.

I have been trying Court cases, the majority involving man's inhumanity to man; something in this dimension of space and time is all too common and all too familiar. We live in a culture of hate; what is and what many feel, with unwavering intolerance, should be.

Reality is hard and finite. Reality much of the time is cruel. There is no dream of what might be only the darkness of now.

Needing a break I was approached with a new tome; a collection of tales inspired by the cosmicism of H. P. Lovecraft. Eleven stories of wonder, including a retelling of sorts of a classic children's tale; the title -- BLACK PANTHEONS.

Curtis M. Lawson brings us 11 stories and 131 pages packed with what might be exploring the mythologies of this and other cultures all rooted in the here and now all the while transporting both the protagonist and the reader to dimensions vast and heretofore unknown.

The stories are entertaining and thought provoking; ethereal and challenging. Prepare to have your mind stretched. Prepare to have your temporal beliefs challenged. Prepare to stand in the shoes of the characters.

And by the way, you will never look at the story of "Pinocchio" the same again.

As inspired by the master Mr. Lovecraft and his mythos of long ago, this is a marvelous modern take with exploring vignettes and full blown tales that offer hope, including the horrors, that other dimensions and means are within reach.

This is new collection, published this very month and further details on its purchase and the scribe behind these tales and are contained on http://curtismlawson.com/ .

Check it out and buy his book.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review: The Diary of Dr. John Polidori 1816, 2015 reprinted from 1911 edited by William Michael Rossetti

Long before Horror literature was rendered practically impotent because it was bastardized by illiterate wannabees, plot thieves and over sexed sexless hacks, there was a time when classic literature was crafted without fear and with abandon. There was a time even when the most melodramatic piece of trash showed worth because an actual story rather than a rant existed.

In other words, talent actually lived and walked and breathed and wrote.

The year is 1816 and Dr. John Polidori, budding writer and personal physician to the immortal poet Lord Byron spent a long weekend with Byron and a married couple, Percy B. and Mary Shelley. Out of this weekend and a quadruple dare was born and the Romantic Movement fired a shot heard for ages to come.

Amidst the incessant rain the group discussion led to supernatural tales with Polidori penning THE VAMPYRE, A TALE; the first vampire novel published in English and Mary Shelley creating the immortal and extremely influencing FRANKENSTEIN.

What is contained in these pages is the back story, a memoir of the moment a point in time when literature rose above the mass market. Edited by William Michael Rossetti, the maternal nephew to Polidori and the brother to Dante, this volume is copious and fascinating.

Originally published in 1911 this tome is not dated with page after page capturing the same lightning in a bottle that gave Mary Shelley's creation life.

For any writer this is an important glimpse into a moment of creativity. For any writer this is a chance to be a witness to history itself.

Buy the book.





Thursday, April 13, 2017

Artist Review: Gary Wray

If you don't know the name Basil Wolverton you cannot in all honesty with the straightest of studious face and smart styled eye glasses claim to have any level of literacy; or in the alternative profess any knowledge about comics.

Literacy aside of course.

Wolverton who lived from 1909 to 1978 was an illustrator and cartoonist whose career became known for stark originality and unique style thus qualifying him as an undisputed genius and legend in his time and for times to come.

As with his contemporaries, Edward Gorey and Robert Crumb, Wolverton's work is unmistakable, a landmark and highly influential. And by the way if Gorey or Crumb escape you please do the honorable thing and divest yourself of all you own and relocate under a rock.

Gary Wray is our contemporary and very much our Gorey and Crumb. He's also our Basil Wolverton having won Weirdo Magazine's ugly art contest, a Wolverton contest for those Wolverton devotees.

Be it painting on canvas or sculpture Wray art is unique and important. I happen to own many pieces, both canvas and figure and I marvel at the originality and vision. Affordable and accessible the artist's one of kind items can be found online and even on eBay and Etsy.

For full disclosure I own many pieces and even commissioned Gary to paint a portrait of my beloved cover to Corpses Don't Bleed. I do so because I am amazed by the imagination and creativity captured in each and every item.

Classic movie monsters are created with a flair, monsters of the mind are also in the lair. If you want something more than a simple action figure; if you want something to capture an artist's creative moment buy Gary Wray.




Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: PETER CUSHING LIVES! The Peter Cushing Society

Celebrating their 61st year The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society is the quintessential, and actually the essential, authority on the life and career of Peter Wilton Cushing OBE aka Dr. Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, Professor Frankenstein, Dr. Who and hundreds of memorable characters of film, television and the stage.

United Kingdom based the Society is the protector and preservationist of countless images, clips, interviews, etc. etc. celebrating the life and career of the actor's actor.

This is a treat that cuts across genres because Peter Cushing was a perfectionist of many mediums and many tales; horror, science fiction, comedy, drama and adventure. It is here you can sample to satisfy your thirst for knowledge and find morsels you never knew existed such as that appearance in a Laurel and Hardy short.  

You can find the society at PeterCushingblog.blogspot.com and sign up for its many platforms. I have to say that being greeted each morning with a Peter Cushing short certainly makes the morning a lot brighter.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Film Review: Vampyr (1932) Carl Theodor Dreyer

Here is a classic forgotten by many. And how this German masterpiece and I have avoided each other is beyond me. 

Well maybe it has to do with all the missing and destroyed prints: most of the German, all the English, Dutch and French prints have gone missing or have simply been destroyed by natural causes. Thank the Dear Lord at least one print survived and received the restoration necessary to keep it alive.

This tale of the undead begins when traveler Allan Gray checks into a small inn in the village of Courterpierre and wakes to find an old man who leaves behind an ominous package. The label reads 'do not open until I am dead'; the wrapping contains an old volume about the lore and existence of vampires.

This is a subject new to our hero, a man who bears a resemblance to H. P. Lovecraft. But a subject he finds himself obsessed with and unwittingly submerged in. 

The village is under attack by a malevolence so powerful and unique that no one seems to understand its power. Weird character appearances follow with flesh and blood individuals at times divorced by light and shadow in a story chock full of shadow men and women who lead Mr. Gray and us closer and closer to the evil at hand.  

The cinematic use of shadow as a 'special effect' is simple and genius. Quite frankly it is natural and uncorrupted by today's cartoony CGI.

The style of this film bridges silent and talkie. Much exposition is still made with scene cards but dialogue is spoken. The acting is subliminally expressive, again, falling in that gap between silent and sound. But the acting, as with the writing, is solid. 

What you find is a realism to this film, not a parlor display, in the dirt, dust and blood presented. The folklore is rich without being pedantic and the tension and creeps build. 

This is not your carefully plotted parlor vampire but something uniquely European. The monster in this production hearkens back to the original collector of souls, that of the old hag. A matriarchal vampire in 1932 was groundbreaking and believe me her appearance in this plot continues to rattle the planet.

The plot twists are many. The menace is unchecked. You will have to subtitles, but hey it is the some of the best reading you will ever know.

It is in the public domain and readily accessible. Dreyer's vision of the undead is a linking of the modern and impressionistic and cannot be missed. It should be studied. It should be cherished and taken seriously along the greatest horror films of any day.

Watch it.