|Fresh Dirt Archives: Apr.-June
June 30, 2006
June 29, 2006
Travel notes: I couldn't access my own website from the Charlotte airport's wireless network. It had a firewall installed that blocked my site because it was "cult/occult." As Spock would say, "Fascinating." Also, Arizona Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner was on my plane from Dallas to Phoenix. The dude has five kids or so. Nobody bothered him, except one guy asked for an autograph. I figure he probably gets bothered enough. I wanted to tell him to lose to the Panthers, but he'll do that anyway.
June 28, 2006
Also still have some freebies in The Farm giveaway--I'll be continuing to put up new stuff throughout July for those who help me promote the new novel. Have an interview taping Monday for WNCW, an NPR affiliate that reaches parts of three states. Keep an eye on the booktour page for its air date. Pod of Horror #17 has an interview with me online, and Nickolas Cook is hosting my online book launch on the official release date of July 6 at 10 p.m. EST.
Recent story news: "Heal Thyself" accepted for Apex Digest's Aegri Somnia and Exit Laughing, containing my story "Dumb Luck," is apparently on its way to the printers for upcoming release--the anthology is also of note because it contains a posthumous story co-written by d.g.k. goldberg.
June 26, 2006
Getting ready to go to Phoenix for Thrillerfest. It's my first big convention in three years. I hope to do one per year, but then the reality of the dusty checkbook sets in. The goal now is to make World Horror Convention in 2007, in Toronto. I've always wanted to visit Canada, because I may have to migrate there if we continue to elect despots.
I've been spending some time at Myspace, beefing up my site and looking up other writers and musicians. I love the whole concept--everybody gets a stage. Everybody has a soundtrack for their lives. Everybody has "friends" who take up so little time, they get extra attention because of it.
June 24, 2006
Also giving away two signed copies at the online book launch for The Farm--hosted by Nickolas Cook at the Lost and the Damned message board, on the day of the book's official release, Thursday, July 6--10 p.m. EST, 7 p.m. Pacific. Come ask all your craziest questions--goats, organic farming, mad science, the state of horror in the last days of civilization.
Hey, if you want a copy of The Harvest, I'd suggest getting one at Amazon or ordering through your favorite local bookstore--the print run is drying up and I don't know if there will be a second print. Even the used copies are getting hard to find.
June 22, 2006
Some people may think it's terrible that I don't care about the awards given by an organization for which I volunteer as an elected officer, an awards process that consumes nearly half of the dues money I mail in each year. Sorry. I still don't care. I obviously care for the organization and its mission, but I don't believe giving out awards furthers that mission. Sure, it's the only thing HWA really does that's worth sending out press releases, which is a shame in itself.
Dean Koontz, one of my professional role models, was a founding member of HWA (then known as Horror and Occult Writers League, or HOWL). Dean was vehemently opposed to peer awards, and history bears him out. Most of the founding members are long gone, including Dean himself. Awards are like sausage; once you see the manufacturing process, you lose your appetite.
June 20, 2006
Well, that made perfect sense to a control freak like me, so I drove over and walked in while the group was doing a strange "banana exercise." Girl asked why I was there, and I made the excuse that I wanted to make sure she had money for the trip. As they went to the next exercise, she and a couple of her friends lagged behind to talk to me, and I left, satisfied that I had done the job. But I eyed the activity bus suspiciously, and fought an urge to go on board and look around (after all, in the age of terrorism, everybody's a suspect). My main worry was they pack these kids into these metal tubes, and while us normal drivers have to strap our kids into licensed and approved car seats (that cost $50 or more), buses roll around with dozens of untethered kids. And then there's the driver: is he/she sober? Who is this person who can afford to work part-time but has so many lives in his/her hands?
Well, Girl made it home safely, so whatever it was, the prayer or the shift of the timeline, worked. So another worry wasted.
June 19, 2006
Not on purpose. They were frolicking--preparing to mate or fight, is there any difference?--when they flitted out from the grass and into the grill of my Subaru. I couldn't avoid them, and it would have been silly to try, given the curvy, rocky stretch of highway. A friend of mine once saw me braking for a rabbit and said, "Are you crazy? I never swerve for animals." Different perspectives on the relative hierarchies of life, I suppose.
Listen, I've been known to cry when I accidentally run over an animal. I had a fairly traumatic experience when I was 12 or so, blithely bouncing into our childhood bedroom, forgetting all about the orphaned bunny my brother had brought home from school. I stepped on it with my bare foot, watched as it skidded sideways leaving blood and miasma across the floor, then fled. I couldn't sleep in the room that night.
I came home today and looked out from my porch at the "lawn" that I have let become a meadow. There were dozens of butterflies in it, performing that same playful and fleeting dance. Perhaps, in some small way, I am paying for the damage I have done over the years. "The Butterfly Effect," whereby a wing stroke in Kansas can cause a typhoon in the Phillipines, may be far more subtle than any of us can imagine. Me, I choose to believe in karma, in the power of good deeds, in the enabling strength of optimism. I'm far from practicing it in all areas of my life, but it's there, waiting to happen. I hope everyone finds a similar peace.
June 13, 2006
One line on the publisher's web site tells you all you need to know about why they deserve nothing but utter contempt: "We except only top quality new authors to our Writers Circle" (sic) Which should read: "We accept only top-quality, new authors to our "Writer's Circle." Do you want to GIVE AWAY your book forever to a company that has five grammatical errors in a single sentence? I didn't think so.
New humor article "The Secrets of Internet Dating" by the one and only Dr. Mann, America's second-favorite advice columnist.
June 11, 2006
Make no mistake, this man was a poisoned soul, a hater, an enemy to the United States and a number of other countries, including people in his native Iraq. Zealots of every stripe should induce a heavy dose of caution--no matter their skin color. But if you celebrate any death, then may your God have mercy on your soul.
Knee-jerk reaction by USA Today called the death "good news," as if, "Well, gee whiz, Osama bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 attacks but he's too much trouble to catch so maybe we should celebrate this minor victory instead." All Zarqawi's death did was spawn a hundred new martyrs and another round of "terrorist attack" warnings. Gee, I feel much safer now, don't you? Can we declare "Mission Accomplished" yet again?
Some people have told me I shouldn't be public with my political beliefs because it might damage my writing career. My beliefs are far stranger than most people realize, because they veer into the extreme edge of libertarianism where legalized drugs clash with gun control. I'll never accept "freedom" as a cheap buzzword, especially from a populace where barely a third even bother to vote and a majority still mistakenly believe Saddam Hussein ordered the 9/11 attacks. Sorry. I expect more from a free, thinking society. I think if you don't think, you have no right to freedom and if you don't believe in a better world, then you have no right to my attention. As they say, your mileage may vary, but I sleep pretty well most nights.
June 9, 2006
Here's a photo I took that's either a turtle orgy or an outbreak of 'shrooms.
June 3, 2006
I could have worked much harder on that aspect of the story and ramped up the fear factor, but, increasingly, I find that just trying to scare people is fairly boring. I'm more interested in the characters and their interactions, and though I think I'm pretty good at tossing a hissing cat out of a dark closet into the face of an unsuspecting victim, I can't do it without wondering why the cat was there in the first place. My work has always been spiritually driven, even though I probably should pay more attention to my own spirit (even knows it needs some help) rather than that of my fictional creations. But I find faith, and its lack, fascinating.
Rafferty said all "The Farm" lacks is a soul; somewhat ironic, given that the story is about a long-dead preacher and in a way hearkens back to my first novel, The Red Church. Rafferty is again right. Though "The Farm" is by far my longest novel yet, it tends to sprawl more than focus. Again, that's my failing, and though I believe theme of "The Farm" is worth exploring, I am well aware the book will have "horror" printed on the spine and thus arouse certain expectations. I should have simplified, trimmed back some characters, and delved more deeply into the main antagonist (there are actually four antagonists in the book, another record for me).
The truth is, I am a little afraid to tackle a "big book," with sweeping themes, at least at this stage of my development. I think I've figured out sentences, and I can turn a pretty decent paragraph on command, and scenes aren't much of a problem. But I'm still tinkering with the big canvas, and most of it comes down to deciding what I really believe and what I really want to say. It's a journey, and I love the journey. Maybe this is the road my spirit has to travel, flitting into this and that entity (fictional characters), and checking their motivations, reactions, and moral shortcomings. I'm learning, and I hope it never ends.
If you ever close one of my books and all I did was scare you, you'll probably forget it by the time you crack the cover of your next read. If it comes back to you in the night, or over coffee, or even in the middle of reading a better, non-horror book, then I'll call it a success. For now.
June 2, 2006
I try to finish books I start, and I used to read everything. But I was younger and dumber then (funny how those two adjectives fit so naturally together as you get older), and the only books I didn't finish were those assigned classics, like "Moby Dick" and a Dickens or two. I love Dickens now, but they shouldn't try to shove him down the throats of adolescents in public schools. I finished a lot of bad books in the 1980's. "Slugs" immediately comes to mind. Somewhere in the 1990's, I decided life was too short, and books, movies, and other distractions too plentiful, to endure anything that didn't quickly grab my attention.
Since then, my patience level has dwindled from 50 pages to about five. The truth is, you can smell hog shit a mile away, and only an idiot needs to stick his nose in it to tell that it's hog shit. Maybe I'm just older and wiser, or maybe slowly becoming a little more honest. Or maybe hog shit stinks worse than it used to.
May 29, 2006
I'll be making a list of items to give away in conjunction with The Farm hype contest--everyone who participates will be a winner, and everyone who participates will also be eligible for other prizes. Free DVDs, books, and magazines, and everybody who helps spread the word about my new novel will get a signed cover proof of The Farm.
May 25, 2006
Koontz is one of my favorite writers and a reminder that dedication is the most important "talent" any writer can possess. I've always believed you should emulate the people you admire, in any field, and try to practice their habits as closely as you can. Koontz rewrites with a passion that probably borders on obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he also sticks to a harsh regimen at the keyboard. He does few interviews and personal appearances, though he's widely considered approachable, humorous, and supportive of other writers. I've had a little correspondence with him and all those traits apply.
While his essay on "Mr. Murder" takes another sarcastic stab at Hollywood, it also contains a lot of insight about the man and his ideas. Say what you will about his characters who often seem too good to be true, his books resonate with millions of readers around the world. It's not just his formula for writing a bestseller, it's his philosophy of living. His new book, The Husband, he says, is "about courage and self-sacrifice, how those qualities are born of and nurtured by love as well as by a recognition that life has meaning and that this world has mysterious depths."
May 22, 2006
I'm doing some giveaways for The Farm--check out the contest page if you'd like to help me promote the book. Most of the gimmicks cost you very little time and effort, and you are eligible to win DVDs, signed books, signed book covers, and other oddities I happen to uncover.
review of the Farm is in, from Baryon Magazine: "Scott Nicholson is
one of the new breed of horror writers who have taken up
the mantle of King and Koontz with his modern day gothic
horror thrillers that are chillingly filled with things
not of this world visiting our realm with malicious
While I'm schlepping product, here's a thrilling little number that really is one of a kind: the first anthology from the International Thriller Writers. Big advance, big advance orders, big names. I'm not in it, but I'm a member of the organization. The org will be conducting a massive publicity blitz beginning May 29, so consider yourself a little ahead of the curve.
May 15, 2006
Finally got around to taking author photographs for "The Farm." I toy with the idea of having a new "image" for each novel, because they are little time capsules of my life anyway. This one, we went with the hillbilly farmer look, which isn't too much of a stretch, since this is what I do, just on a much smaller scale. Once again my friend Marie Freeman did a fine job on the photographs, especially considering her nongenic subject matter. You can see more of her great mountain photography at her Blue Ridge Blog.
May 8, 2006
Planted onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatillos. I just hope it doesn't snow. The hummingbirds have even stopped haunting my empty feeder.
May 4, 2006
Dubya sez accepting a life sentence was --QUOTE--"something that he evidently wasn't willing to do for innocent American citizens." Can you imagine Dubya actually coming up with this line without a writer? Writers will never go unemployed. They just need to make sure they work for the right people.
May 1, 2006
Apr. 24, 2006
Updated my bio because it sounded so boring. Not much way to help it. Writing is not all that exciting. It's basically just sitting there staring at computer keys for hours.
Apr. 19, 2006
It looks like I'll be going to the first Thrillerfest in Phoenix at the end of June. Still not sure of details, but I will be in a volunteer capacity. Lots of big names afoot--Michael Palmer, David Morrell, R.L. Stine, M.J. Rose. People on the bestseller lists. I'm pretty juiced about it. Boy is going to college in Tucson in the fall, so I'll get to see some of that terrain.
Apr. 13, 2006
One thing I've noticed in all my books, I have an asshole character (sometimes a few) and I have the most fun writing those. It is so natural. Or as Farrengalli, the loud-mouthed Italian from the Bronx in a novel as yet unnamed who will probably turn out fatally flawed (like his creator), says: "It's only fuckin' natural."
I hope it's not a sign of something deeper--oh, please, if I could only get a shrink on the couch for 30 seconds, I'm sure we'd both be that much happier.
Taxes done. I bought another dozen Bush bullets for Iraq and I feel so much safer now.
Apr. 11, 2006
The truth is overrated, I suppose. It's a wonderful lie, I still get by on those...
It's wrong to commit a suicide,
it's only in self-defense...
You were born for me, beautiful and blue, I could die here with you...
Is it fiction or fact? We're identically sad, We got tears rolling up our sleeves...
I shot an actor in the street...it was my debut at directing...we nailed him in the hands and feet...last scene he was in his trailer resting...who here in the crew was he talking to and what was he saying?
Wow. I wish I could write that good, or lines so well. He's the Raymond Chandler of rock, or the Sylvia Plath of major seventh chords.
I'm not much of a club hopper these days (a show a decade is a minor miracle), but I got to see Westerberg about a year ago. It was a great, old-fashioned rock'n'roll show, complete with Westerberg walking into the women's restroom like a jerk. Small crowd, cigarette smoke, five-dollar plastic cups of Chablis. A night not to be missed. One of those rare moments when you and the "artist" (or creator or inventor or thinker or lover) just kind of connect. You know what I mean. You. Him. Her. Whatever.
Mr. Westerberg continues to gain prominence in my esteem, a.ka. he rawks. The only newer artists who bug me so much are James McMurtry (though he's not so young anymore) and Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide.
Apr. 10, 2006
My Hellnotes writing column has been cancelled. Appropriately enough, the last column was "The 'N' Word," about how rejection and negatives are the true building blocks of a writing career. A friend of mine reminded me today of the importance of my own advice, to write every day whether or not you have time, willingness, or fingers. I think I'm ready for a haircut.
Got advance reader copies for The Farm. Same as the others except these covers are canary yellow. So that makes orange (The Harvest), gray (The Manor), light gray (The Home), and now yellow. Apparently they use the cheapest leftover cardboard stock for these covers, so now we know which colors went out of style over the past few years.
Is it just me, or are a lot of pregnant celebrities starting to show up on the magazine racks?
Apr. 4, 2006
Just added an essay at Storytellers Unplugged on the use of the phrase "A Novel" after the title of novels. Doing taxes right now, looking for all those creative writerly deductions that are easy to overlook--mileage to the bookstore, web costs, and probably my mental health bills. Are illegal substances legal deductions?
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