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Fresh Dirt Archives: October-December 2006

 

Dec. 29, 2005
I'm reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov, which I always thought was a dirty book, judging by its reputation. I'm surprised to find it hilarious and well-written, and not really dirty at all. (After all, dirtiness is mostly in the mind.) Got a couple of things in the mail I'll be putting on eBay next week: an advance reader copy of Richard Laymon's Once Upon a Halloween and Cemetery Dance #3 from 1990.

Bought an acoustic guitar last week in the midst of spending money on other people. I haven't had one for a while. It's kind of nice to have something to beat up in those cold, quirky moments.

The much-anticipated Corpse Blossoms anthology is out in trade hardcover format and is getting great reviews. Signed, limited edition versions will be out early in 2006. Contributors include Bentley Little, Bev Vincent, Ramsey Campbell, Tom Piccirilli, Steve Rasnic Tem, and Joseph Nassise, among many others. Me, too.

Dec. 23, 2005
Check out Therese Pampellone's The Unwelcome Child. It was just released by Pinnacle Books, and obviously I highly recommend it. The book was picked up for release by The Mystery Guild. My cover blurb is "The most chilling study of motherhood since Rosemary's Baby." It's the best new book I've read in a long while.

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Dec. 19, 2005
Eef Barzelay for president.

Watched "Shaun of the Dead." Witty, poignant, and everything but horror.

Do you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?

Dec. 16, 2005
Just watched "Care Bears: Journey To Joke A Lot" (well, parts of it--parental love does have its limits). When I asked girl if it was funny, she said "Not really." Dad then asked, "Is it one of those that teaches you a lesson?" Girl delivered a classic: "Sort of, but it's sort of one just to enjoy."

It's a well-done movie, using CGI instead of cartoons, with homage to Monsters, Inc., 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even Beatlesque elements in some of the songs. But, I gotta tell you, Care Bear butts are waaaay creepy.

Dec. 12, 2005
Watched the classic black-and-white 1925 movie "Metropolis." Is it about communism, fascism, homosexuality, or Catholicism? The hero looked like a cross between Robert Smith and Leo DiCaprio. Why does Fritz Lang hate our freedom so much?

Dec. 9, 2005
Halfway through Farm proofs. Working on a writing article. Got royalty statement for The Red Church. Sales appear to be dwindling a bit, not unexpected since it's been thirty months since the release. No word yet on if it will go back for a third print, so if you want a copy, you'd better snag one from B&N online, since even bookstores seem unable to order them anymore.

Put some books up for sale on eBay: Brian Keene "No Rest For The Wicked," Brian Hodge "Falling Idols," and a book I helped copyedit, "Scary Rednecks" by Weston Ochse & David Whitman.

Watched "Batman: The Movie" several times with my daughter. At age five, she understands it perfectly. The movie is billed as family entertainment, and it delivers. Bruce Wayne even quotes Edgar Allan Poe during a romantic scene. Adam West is a great actor. He's what William Shatner could have been with a little more courage.

Dec. 3, 2005
Gone through about 120 pages of the Farm proof. As always at this point, I think I should throw the book away, send the money back, and go on to a reputable career in vinyl siding. But, as always, the money is already spent and, well, parts of it are interesting, and I believe the story does get better as it rolls along. My entry at Storytellers Unplugged is up, an expansion of something I'd covered in the journal earlier this year: limited edition books. I raised the subject there in hopes of sparking some debate.

Nov. 29, 2005
Received my copedited manuscript of "The Farm" today. Haven't glanced through it yet, but there's a list of the character names at the beginning--featuring 61 different people. Wow. While the manuscript is 616 pages, I would have expected maybe half that. Of course, most of those are just throwaways, as the novel has maybe eight or nine viewpoint characters, and only three main protagonists. I have a little over two weeks to get it checked over and sent back. I can usually do it in three or four days.

Nov. 26, 2005
Finally turned in the five children's books to my agent. I'm pleased with the results,and think a couple of them have a real chance at publication. It was the hardest writing I'd ever done, because I had to second-guess every single word choice. Plus, of course, you can always fool adults, but you can't fool children for long. Also turned in the writing column "The Final Left Turn Into Darkness" for Hellnotes, and the first chapter of The Farm will eventually be posted on the newly upgraded Cemetery Dance website.

Here's Sharyn McCrumb and me at the Great Smoky Mountain Book Festival last weekend. I got to read the first chapter of her current project, and it's so wonderful, laugh-out-loud funny, and insightful. I think she's the Mark Twain of the 21st Century. I believe this will be my last public appearance of the year, though I swung by the local Waldenbooks and signed the copies of my books they had in stock.

Nov. 17, 2005
New interview by Scott Johnson for Horror Channel is up at their site. Scott's a fine author in his own write. New article "Spooky Cinema" is up, a little late for Halloween, but, hey, every night is Halloween, right?

I'll be at the Smoky Mountain Book Fair Saturday, in Sylva NC, so drop by if you're in the western North Carolina area.

Nov. 13, 2005
Please join me for a chat Monday (Nov. 14) hosted by the Salt Lake City Public Library System. The chat begins at 7 pm Mountain Standard Time or 9 pm EST. I'll be at the Great Smoky Mountain Book Fair in Sylva NC on Nov. 19.

A new interview with me just came out in Dark Discoveries # 5, a cool genre magazine edited by James Beach. The issue also contains interviews with Ramsey Campbell, Norman Partridge, and Doug Winter, as well as fiction, articles, and book reviews. Definitely worth a look.

Nov. 11, 2005
A couple of high school advanced-placement English classes tackled my story "In The Heart of November," which is posted in the freefic section. The story was originally published in a young adult horror anthology published in Canada. The students were a lot more blunt and honest than any other of my critics have been. The most common complaint was I was talking down to younger readers, I was out of date, and my protagonists sounded like middle schoolers instead of high schoolers.

Few found it scary. One wrote, "While not an excellent story, I would give it a 6/10 rating." Another one said, "I'd give it one-half stars out of five, and that's just for trying." Overall, it was a great learning experience, and I was reminded yet again that teens are savvy and well-read.tz

Nov. 7, 2005
The cover for The Farm (due out in July) arrived this weekend. I like the cover scheme and I think it's the best one yet. I've been very lucky to have consistent presentation of my books, and each of my covers have been evocative. I hope you'll check out the large-scale versions and let me know what you think. I have a new entry up at the communal blog Storytellers Unplugged.

Nov. 1, 2005
Picture from Frightfest up at Scott...In Action. Turned in a piece on promotion for the next HWA Handbook from Writers Digest Books. I've got a couple of chats coming up, you can check them out at the booktour section. Watched "The Last Man on Earth" and "Night of the Living Dead" for Halloween. Amazing the similarities--the zombie-like creatures trying to get at penned-up humans.

Oct. 26, 2005
I was about ready to turn in my set of children's books when I got an idea for an extra one, so I'll have to finish it up as a Halloween-related story. I'm doing this one with pen and paper instead of the keyboard, and I'm amazed by the number of corrections I make. I'm not sure if I do that when using the keyboard. Maybe I do it subconsciously.

With the first snowstorm officially wiping out the garden, here's the tally: a great year for tomatoes, peppers, and greens; decent for winter squash, potatoes, and beans; not good for cabbages, corn, or summer squash. I'll be planting some garlic this fall, and probably a couple more fruit trees. I'm going to buy as many local plants as possible. Autumn has been colorful here despite predictions of mediocrity, though I suspect this cold and wet weather will knock it down a good bit.

Oct. 20, 2005
I recently got my advance check for "The Home," and even though I have a day job, here's what it means: I can pay off the credit card I've been rolling over for several months (I abhor debt, especially the part about paying interest); I can buy some printer cartridges (haven't printed anything out in a couple of months); I can pay a little ahead on the second mortgage (did I mention I hate debt?); I can buy organic food; I can clean out the silverware draeer, meaning I can through away any plastic forks that have broken tines; I can spend some money on promotion; I can crack the whip on myself to get the next novel done because I know how desperately I will need the money.

On the home front, it's a depression. The next-door-neighbor clear-cut about 20 acres of forest because "after 40 or 50 years, the trees start getting trashy." At least cows will graze there. Then the power-line guys come through and wipe out a half-dozen more trees and I will be able to see my neighbor's house when the leaves fall. In the picture below, the large tree to the right has been severely topped. I'm letting every little sapling in my yard get established, then I'll decide later how to move them around after my fruit trees get bigger. I can't control what my neighbors do, but I can create my own little hideaway spot until I have enough money to buy more land. Ah, the curse of the wannabe recluse.

Oct. 11, 2005
Radio interview with Mark Justice is now online as a podcast at Horror Reader. Not much new on the writing front, just launching the start of the "2007 novel with no name." I also hope to write a story on cops for the next Mystery Writers of America anthology, edited by Michael Connelly. With 3,000 members and only 10 slots, it will be a reach, but I have an idea that can probably work for another project if rejected.

Here's a photo of my front yard. You can understand why I hate to ever leave this place. There are a couple of major land plots for sale a mile or two up the road, so my serenity is not eternal, but I should be safe from the cancer of development for a few more years. House values go up 10 percent a year here, so I should be able to manage a nice trade-up when I'm ready to move. If ever. I don't know how deep these woods go, and with gas prices forever high, I don't know how far in the wilderness I can afford to live.

Oct. 4, 2005
Received my contributor's copy of Crimewave # 8 today, a magazine well-blurbed by Ed Gorman, Ian Rankin, and Ellen Datlow. Fellow contributors include Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Joel Lane, Joe Hill, Darren Speegle, Jay Caselberg, and more. I've been looking forward to reading this one, and it was accompanied by payment in British pounds.

Contributed my monthly entry (a day late) to Storytellers Unplugged. Hard to believe a month has passed since DragonCon. Harder to believe I only have six months to finish the next novel. Harder still to believe I have four other projects demanding attention.

 

-- copyright 2005 by Scott Nicholson

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