Tag Archives: characters

Post-Partum/Past-Perfect

Draconfyx Text

I’ve made the first draft of this project available for those interested in reading (see details below).

My projects are my children, and when I finish one, there’s a sense of letdown which must resemble that following childbirth.  Incidentally, such creative “labor”, as kindred spirits will agree, can in its own cerebral way be just as messy and painful.

20190708_102751Midnight Steps is done.  The suspense novel set in the 1920s that I’ve worked on for three years.  I didn’t say “finished” because it definitely is not.  It has a long way to go before I will let it out of the laboratory.  Already, since writing the denouement/final chapter, I see a ton of things that won’t work earlier in the book because they just don’t line up with the end result.  Characters need to change and harden or at least act more suspiciously.  And then there are outright asininities…for instance, the male lead, Ethan (oh, how he fought me to survive at the end!  Did he win?), is supposedly hiding out in a secluded boardinghouse from underworld enemies.  Then why does he wind up taking June, the female lead, out all the time in very public urban settings???  GAAAAAHHHH!!!!  That’s the kind of thing that authors bang their heads over, and in this case, it’s my own fault.  I didn’t know the characters as well as I thought I did before I started writing in 2016, nor was I as sure as I should have been about where the plot was headed.  Another fault I admit to is not being well-read on or familiar with the “underworld”, present or past, i.e., exactly how it works.  That’s not as big of a problem as it might have been, because I chose to keep the story’s focus more on the characters than what they do, with just an occasional glimpse of their shady activities.  Is the thing salvageable?  Of course!  These minor quibbles aside, Midnight Steps is probably the best fiction I’ve ever written…personal, at times even profound, and most of all, alive.  That doesn’t mean it’s good.  It doesn’t even mean it’s worthy of selling.  But it represents real progress as a writer, and so I unabashedly award myself a gold star for effort.  By the way…I’ve probably said this before, if not here, then somewhere else, but…it is possible to fall in love with your own fictional character(s).  I did.  Think of it as a Pygmalion/Galatea-type thing.  Or Pygmalion/statue-of-David, rather.  I’m not sure David is Greek, but…whatever, the metaphor works.

As the title to this entry indicates, after a little research on past-perfect tense–the use of product_thumbnail“had” to place an already past event further in the past–I’ve decided to revise The Horrible Hand! one last time to correct my blatant abuse of said grammatical tool.  A lot of the book is told in flashbacks, and so I have a surfeit of sentences like “…He had had to do this”, or “She had met him…he had met her…they had then gotten married and had been miserable ever after…” yada, yada, yada.  Yeah.  ANNOY-ING.  The red flag was when I was rereading a chapter and thought, This ‘had’ thing is really getting old.  So, it’s going to get another pass with the literary lawnmower.  Why?  Who cares?  I care.  Even if no one ever buys a single copy, it still matters to me that when it’s languishing out there in cyberspace, it’s right.  At least as right as I can get it without paying some ridiculously high fee for someone to tear it apart and cajole me into reconstructing it Their Way.

And then?

Well, I’m not very good at it, but I need to rest.  The Horrible Hand! and Midnight Steps were both huge projects which took years to wrap up.  I know that over the past year or so, I’ve often felt creatively tapped-out and just plain tired.  Maybe I’m getting old.  (No, I AM getting old.) In addition, maybe I’m not, after all, as creative or gifted as I was brought up to believe.  Middle age can trigger cruel self-doubts.  I never thought I would become a bestselling author, but it would be nice to know that people are taking in my point of view and acquainting with the characters and scenes I so loved creating.  Still, when I reach the end of the road on a major work like these, and I find myself wondering who I did it for, my honest answer is usually, me.  And those who inhabit the story.   Even when others do read my work and compliment it, they’re only getting that topmost tip of the creative iceberg; same as audiences who view movies and plays and paintings.  They see the finished result only, not the creative process which is the real attraction for the artists, and which is rarely shared with “consumers”, whose reaction to it frequently amounts to nothing more than the following exchange:

ME: So, did you ever finish reading that book of mine?

READER: Yeah.  We liked it.

ME: It held your interest, then?

READER: Yeah.  It was good.

ME: …Thanks.

One of the things writers and other storytellers deal with is the brutal reality that just because we were fascinated enough with our plots and characters to spend three years or so on them does not mean that anyone else will share our fascination.  I used to give copies of my books as gifts now and then–never again, and neither should you.  It is not fair to strong-arm your family and friends into reading your work when they may not be remotely interested.  That is, as I’ve stated, the reason why artists would do well to admit that their true motivations are, fundamentally, as selfish as an only child.  Which I happen to be.

That said, I’ll go on creating, if on a smaller scale for a while.  Oh!  Draconfyx is finished also, and not to blow my own bugle, but I don’t think it turned out too bad.  It was only a six-month undertaking, text and art, yet it has a sharpness, urgency, and timeliness to it that make me half-seriously regard it as “the one they’ll like best”.  That would be fine with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t go wrong with Dracula, or even a spin-off, and a new slant on the drug war might actually be useful.  Plus God’s in it!  He’s been making cameos in a few different projects lately.  I’m toying with the idea of publishing Draconfyx for a Halloween release, but I am not sure that it will be ready this year.

Back to what’s on the agenda.  First, prewriting only for something new: writing a story/novelette in public–on Wattpad or even Facebook–while simultaneously writing it as a play…then illustrating it.  I have this craving to get back to making art, in particular dioramic setups, as of old.  More on that in a minute.  Before that, I may look at illustrating Flickers and writing more on the old memoir, What a World...  And/or, starting my own YouTube channel, which I’ve wanted to do anyway, and recording excerpts of WAW.  So…nothing too big or complicated, just enough to keep me creatively satisfied and productive.

With that said…aren’t these the absolute limit?  This is the kind of art I want to get back to doing, especially to photograph for illustrations.  I have a whole closet full–two, actually–of toys like this.  Miniatures have always intrigued me, and I’ve challenged myself to work as small as I can with this next collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’ll sign off with some random film images that have stayed with me over the years–some since childhood–and which represent recurring themes in my writing.  An eclectic selection?  You know it.  Disturbing?  Maybe.  But I believe I was meant to tell certain stories, and in order to do that, I needed certain, often very dark inspiration very early on.  And so I must have subconsciously absorbed these representative images and situations, then later incorporated them into my own personal brand of grim, ironic, yet redemptive tales.  I will admit that my endings are usually somewhat more hopeful than those found in the fiction below.  I guess that, too, is a kind of progress.  Besides, there must be shadows if there is to be light…right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Vintage “Drug Sting” with Bat Wings

3Just a quick update on the status of my three present projects at the start of 2019.  Two are old and one is new…and slightly borrowed.  (They all keep me from being too blue.) The latter is a work “strongly suggestive” of Dracula.  I’ve long wanted to do my own version of Bram Stoker’s old reliable warhorse, but at least this time, my concept is only (heavily) reminiscent of it.

Draconfyx is centered upon a vintage drug dealer of the title name, who, with the help of his minions, purveys a mysterious, addicting elixir to lost people searching for something to fill their empty hearts. The elixir eventually renders these unfortunates vulnerable enough that Count Draconfyx can steal their souls…and thus, his victims become soul predators–“Users” like him. Geeeeet iiiiiiiiiit???  As Dracula is a classic story of good vs. evil, so is Draconfyx, for while these Users do not actually drink blood, fear the sunlight, or sleep in coffins, they do fear and respect God. And so it is with God’s help that a young girl and retired professor seek to destroy Count Draconfyx and his kind, to prevent other people, especially the young, from falling prey to addiction, death, and eternal loss,

You might call it a Gothic horror/spiritual take on a drug sting…with bat wings.

I’m writing it as a fairly short storybook for youth and adults, with mixed-media illustrations like these. It’s great fun.  Certain iconic elements and scenes from the Big D will be paid homage to, i.e., Dracula’s move to a new country for a fresh smorgasbord of victims; the three vampire women; Professor Van Helsing (Professor Vanover here); the ruined Carfax (Craxton) Abbey; plenty of storm-tossed nights and moonlight; character names with the ring of their Stoker counterparts–Mina and Lucy are now sisters Minnie and Luna, and Jonathan Harker is Jem Harks, a local delinquent youth who corrupts Luna–and so on and so forth.

The story is serving as an exercise in brevity.  I have a tendency to be extremely wordy, and to include much too much detail, to the point of rambling.  Here, I intend to keep the finished product short enough that it can be read in one sitting, like a movie of modest length.  An hour and fifteen minutes is perfect, as such was the running time of most Universal classic horror films of the 1930s which have inspired me.

 

Midnight Steps marches ever onward.  I’ll soon be into the third “act” of the story, and if I do say so myself, this one is a corker.  More on it later, but…wow.  Even as I write it, I can feel chills at the overwhelming sense of “me” pouring forth in every aspect.  The experience has taught me that you definitely should write what you know–including when you don’t know firsthand the when, where, or occasionally even the what of it.  Sheer emotional honesty will nearly always fill the gaps.

And then there’s that other chestnut, now published.  I plan to embark (not too soon) upon a third and final round of revisions to The Horrible Hand!  It wouldn’t be necessary from a writing standpoint–the story’s text is what it is, after three years.  What keeps tripping me up is the fucking formatting; for example, spacing properly the stupid-assed little logos at the start of each chapter, and keeping the same amount of text on every page so that they’re even and don’t look like some clueless self-published writer put it together.  I keep telling myself that next time, I’ll let a professional do it.  Maybe, maybe not.  Regardless, I’ve learned volumes on what to do and not to do in future works, particularly the Eerie Series.

Don’t misunderstand me, though.  I’ve enjoyed every detail of the work on this project and the rest.  Even the shit work.

I guess that’s why they call it a labor of love.


WEEWEE AND SOMEBODY, Chapter Eleven

This is the last full chapter of the blog-book.  All that remains to be added is the epilogue, next month.  Here we have a glimpse at the pre-show for opening night of the musical that is a main focal point of the story…any thespians out there will probably enjoy this one a lot.

http://weeweeandsomebody.wordpress.com


GRYMWYCK Portion Two Progress

I’m about halfway through writing the text for the second installment of Grymwyck, which I’ve decided to title Preparing for the Sojourn.  In this segment, Belinda Nathan goes back to her hometown of Hastings, Ohio (I’ve given the locale an actual setting) to get her belongings stored and packed for her move to Grymwyck.  Much of this first half has been devoted to character development for Belinda, focusing on her thoughts and memories of her deceased parents and her former boyfriend, Sean Fellowes, who runs into her unexpectedly in Hastings.  The writing so far has gone smoothly and quickly.  My main concerns are plausibility and consistency in the story.  With the shadow of the supernatural falling throughout, I hope to present as much logic for the characters’ actions and the various events as possible.  I suppose that will make the end effect all that much stronger.

I withdrew the first book, or pilot for the series, Arrival, temporarily to make some changes and revisions.  I wasn’t happy with the layout, for one thing.  Too bad my friend Joe already bought a copy; the updated version is much better to look at visually, with the photographs “wrapped” by the text.  I redid the layouts this way on all my other projects as well, last week, and even updated and republished Dot’s Journey.  Call me obsessive-compulsive, but I just like the knowledge that all my projects are in the same format.  Consistency, you know.

I also made out an extensive, detailed timeline for all my writing/art projects, beginning at present, in November 2009 and ending in February 2011.  Everything in this current “season” is listed and scheduled as far as when I will write this chapter or begin that photo shoot.  This has made it much easier for me to concentrate, one month or week at a time, on what needs to be done for which story. 

I’m pleased with my progress so far…Grymwyck–Arrival will be republished next week, and I’m about halfway through both Grymwyck–Preparing…Sojourn and WeeWee and Somebody.  I aim to self-publish WW&S by my birthday, 2010, and Preparing/Sojourn on the first of next year (2011) along with Echo Forest, which I plan to start on in April 2010.


The Little People

I just love little people.  Really, I do.  Figurines, action figures, models…they all fascinate me.  I remember vividly my collection of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe warriors, and their castles and vehicles.  It was a vast collection, and I recall it very fondly. 

heman-character-figures

It is packed away in a corner of my parents’ basement now, but I have plans to go through it in the near future and organize it, along with all my other scads of action figures, and my Super Powers figurines, and their ilk.  I’ve thought about putting them in the community garage sales that my parents’ neighborhood holds every August, but I honestly don’t know if I can bring myself to do it yet.  I still have an emotional attachment to those toys, and a part of me feels disloyal at passing them off to kids who probably won’t appreciate or care for them half as much as I did.  Maybe I want to go through them one more time just for the sheer pleasure of holding them in my hands again, and reliving those memories of endless afternoons of enjoyment that they gave me.

I suppose I would be remiss to explain why I am including this post in this blog, when at first glance, it doesn’t look to have anything to do with my own personal artwork and writing.  The simple fact is, it has everything to do with my own work.  My time spent playing with action figures, making up stories, working out plots and direction of sorts…this all proved to pay off as I reached adulthood and began to write plays and novels and to link my artwork with them.  I will admit that I was a real tyrant as a kid when my friends were over and we played together with my miniature empire…my main problem was that my friend(s) didn’t put any thought into the adventures we acted out.  They didn’t spend time thinking up plots, or how to use each character to his/her best advantage…they just went at it, usually so roughly that I hollered bloody murder.  I didn’t want my figures slammed into each other over and over to simulate battle; I preferred just to pose them and let the battle take place in my mind.  And anyway, these toys were my childhood friends as much as Steven, Jason or Adam.  I would not allow anyone to abuse them. 

Gradually, as was to be expected, I set aside the He-Man figures and the castles and the Super Powers and their company when I started to grow up.  But my passion for little people far from waned.  On the contrary, I became interested in creating my own miniature worlds by drawing characters I either made up, or admired from various movies or books I enjoyed.  I spent my adolescence and early youth making paper dolls rather than dating or partying or sneaking out at night to TP my neighbors’ houses with friends.  This didn’t help me then, socially, but as I look at my life now, I can see exactly how much good it did me in the long run.

Today, I am a passionate designer/sculptor of the miniature personage, and of environments for them.  Some of my best friends nowadays are Sculpy, cardboard and toothpicks.  I can literally lose hours at a time as I work to realize my vision of a character I have thought up, a set for a story I am writing. 

Figures 6

My love for the performing arts…for drama and old movies, especially thrillers and mysteries…is the thread which ties all of my creative work together.  The three-dimensional stagings are my writing brought to life, and they form a drama to be photographed and included throughout the play, novel, etc., that they represent, to enhance it.  I will admit that I’ve never yet run across any other work that is quite like what I do. 

My obsession with miniatures and tiny characters is so intense that I frequently dream of walking through a shopping mall, searching avidly for the perfect set of figurines in different hobby/novelty stores, and usually not finding them.  One dream was so vivid that I felt compelled to create a set of new miniature people based on the ones I saw in it.  That set will be featured in the photographs for my upcoming illustrated play, Closing Night, probably sometime next year.
Figures 10

This morning, I shopped on Ebay for miniature model people to use as “extras” and minor supporting characters in my dramatic dioramas.  I wound up investing in 250 little figures…two hundred unpainted…and I can’t wait for the day when I open my mailbox to find them there.  Two hundred and fifty tiny doses of inspiration are on their way to me, from China, no less.

It’s the little things in life, you know.  😉

little people


Preparations for GRYMWYCK Vol. II Begin

It feels so good to finally be able to settle back into the routine of relaxing and working on my personal projects in the evenings!  I never really shelved any of my writing/artwork during my recent hectic exploits as an actor…not even at the most chaotic of times.  I couldn’t.  I had no choice but to keep at them.  This past weekend, prior to the Saturday performance of the play I did that just closed, I went to Pat Catan’s and found some really cool accessories and such for the Grymwyck set, inside and out.  Also more Sculpy to create the three new characters who will appear in the second installment of the series.  Can’t wait to get started!


Interim Projects

Since I’m occupied with acting these days, I don’t want to get enmeshed in anything brand-new or demanding where writing/art is concerned.  But those energies still have to be channelled somehow, so what I’ve been doing is concentrating, in my spare time, on the miniature figure tokens for Closing Night, and the minimal sets for the dioramas that will make up the illustrations; in addition, I’m designing a town for the setting of Julian Mumford Mysteries.  I’ve never done that before, and it’s fun. 

Autumn Woods, aerial view

Autumn Woods, aerial view

I’ve named the town Autumn Woods, and it is in Ohio, somewhere in the northeast region here where I live.  So, those pursuits have given me something to do in the rare moments when I’m offstage.

Also, each month, I am continuing to write, illustrate and post a new chapter for WeeWee and Somebody.  Hard to believe, but I’m almost due to start work on another one.