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Fresh Dirt Archives: July-Sept 2007

Sept. 29
Waaaay back in the mists at the dawn of time, I thought New York and the reading public would recognize my genius and my books would remain in print forever as demand soared for The Wonder That Is Scottbrain. For that reason, I never really hoarded copies of my old books, figuring I'd always be able to pick up a few here and there. I only have two first-print copies of The Red Church, though I did get a few of the book club hardcovers and used ones are pretty easy to find (collectors don't place much value on book club editions). I would usually buy a case of each of my books and send out most of them for review. So I kept only a handful each of The Harvest, The Manor, and The Home. I noticed on Amazon a while back that people were selling both used and new copies for more than twice the original cover price. Some people were asking over $80, for reasons I can't understand (thousands and thousands of copies were printed, so they can't be considered rare). If I were smarter I would have tucked a few cases away and waited for the investment to mature. But it's simpler just to write more books, or get a real job. Since I've mostly been working on scripts this summer, I'm not sure what my book futures are like. Personally, if I were you I'd invest in pork futures or soybeans instead.

The paranormal investigation of the Green Park Inn was loads of fun. Here's the link. I didn't encounter anything that would change my current belief ("It's possible, but I'll believe it when I see it.") But I learned a lot about the process and a little about the personalities of paranormal enthusiasts, and I'll do it again if given the chance.

With my role in "Against The Wind" wrapped until snowfall, I'm turning in a bit part for "Buried Beneath," a low-budget serial killer thriller filmed in western North Carolina. I will play a member of a police board chastising "the cop who doesn't play by the rules" and I'll end up with blood on my face.

Sept. 22
Cell phones: At a soccer game yesterday I saw a woman call her young son on his cell phone to yell at him. The thing is, she was only 20 yards away. Her voice was louder than the cell phone speaker.

My story "Constitution" has just come out in Tenebres 2007. The French translation of the title is roughly "Jusqu’à ce que la mort nous sépare." And I get paid in Euros. So if the word count goes up like that in translation (seven words for one), and the U.S. dollar continues to slide, maybe I can get rich and move overseas on just a few story sales.

I believe I have an article coming out from this same press about the Stephen King book "Needful Things." Something of which I should be an expert...in more ways than one.

Today is spent nursing a sick goat--they are so prone to parasites that the metaphor of "tough old goat" must apply only to their meat. Of course, since they also cost a lot, are picky eaters, and have absolutely no connection to Satan, they are far more trouble than they are worth.

Talk about knowing someone: I told Girl I'd fixed the car and she responded, "Oh, boy. Does this involve duct tape?"

Sept. 19
I've been contacted by the Hauntmaster's Club, which wants me to tag along for their upcoming paranormal investigation of the historic Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock, NC. I've heard some weird stories about the place, including strange incidents that had multiple witnesses. I'll also be on camera as sort of an oral folklorist, since my day job has led me to make the various haunted rounds each October. I've always wanted to use the inn as a loose setting for a novel but it would probably come off as a cheap rip-off of"The Shining."

Sent off a section of the graphic novel script to the potential artist. I think I have enough down to send out a decent sample. I thought the comic script would move "slower" than the movie script on which it is based (which is, naturally, much faster than the novel). Basically the formula looks like 5 comic pages=10 movie pages=100 novel pages, though the different formats emphasize different elements. For example, in a movie script you can't have internal dialogue and in a comic you use one panel, or one fixed moment in time, to represent a larger chunk of time and action.

Funny, but in my movie scripts I've always resorted to the type of "comic book sound effect" that was made corny in the old "Batman" television series. You know, where the trombone wails and the cartoon balloon "BIFFFF" fills the screen as Batman slugs the Joker. I like to create inventive SFX, which I suppose the literati would call "geekboy onomatopoeia." Feels like it adds a little spark to a process that can seem far too pompous otherwise.

Sept. 16
Today we wrapped most of the "Against The Wind" airport footage, though apparently we're going to try some winter snow-flurry scenes. Today was much cooler, as overnights dipped into the 30s here, so the leather aviation gear wasn't as unwelcome. After starting the morning as a W.W.I pilot, I shifted into olive guard garb during one scene, then I shaved mustache and sideburns, donned round wire-framed spectacles, and drove a French colonel into a scene. It was cool driving an authentic 1918 Cadillac, and I even got a line in French, "Oui, moi colonel," pronounced vaguely like "wee mwa curlenel." The colonel really spoke French and was brought in to add realism.

Watched Akira Kirosawa's classic "Ran" last night, all 160 minutes of it. I love Kurosawa's mise en scene (there I go with the French again, though you'll have to pry my "freedom fries" from my cold, dead, cholesterol-clogged fingers), though his stories tend to unfold slowly. "Ran" is a feudalistic Japanese retelling of Shakespeare's "King Lear," so as you can imagine, insanity and betrayal get a lot of free reign, and of course there's the obligatory manipulative woman.

I'm still waiting for the paperwork on the film option for The Manor, but it looks like Inevitable Film Group is trying to put together a deal. These guys have shown interest in my work for a year as they've been setting up the new company, and it looks like they have a good plan for success. You're likely to see one or two more of my projects there soon. "The Manor" is my script adaptation of my novel, though the two projects have quite a few differences (mostly due to the lack of internal dialogue in a movie and the need for visual spooks). Fingers crossed on that one as I try to put together a couple more deals.

Sept. 9
Some movies I watched recently: "Meet The Parents." Ben Stiller annoys me a little but I liked this one--good dynamics and a sparkling cast. DeNiro is great in most anything. Then I watched the sequel "Meet The Fockers," which should have had all the elements to be just as funny but it was flat to me--it tried to be "Three Men, Three Women, And A Baby," with the attempts to work the little kid into the plot totally throwing off any chance to develop the core of the story, which SHOULD have been the two sets of in-laws getting to know each other. Too many cheap sight gags and no real warmth, and Stiller's pregnant bride-to-be seemed tired of the relationship--the kid and the hump-happy little dog should have been saved for Fockers III, at which point everyone, even the audience, would have been going through the motions anyway. "Look at the little Focker. Ha, ha. I said 'Little Focker!' Funny, huh?"

Also watched "Perfume," because I'd heard a lot about the book and Brad Batchelor apparently considers it a "thoughtful horror movie." It took me four tries to get through it, but it was interesting. The problem was basic--how do you make a movie where the primary sense is smell, since the audience can't smell the movie (unless it stars Rob Schneider, then you can smell it from Brisbane)? It actually did okay on that point, though it fell back into that trite gimmick that usually happens when turning a "literary novel" into a movie--you revert to voiceover and add classical music. When critics call something "stylish," that usually means "boring." The ending also totally violated the entire storytelling contract--it shifted into bizarre magic realism. Still, it was thought-provoking enough that I will overlook the failures. I'll give the team credit for trying something different.

Sept. 3
The big news in Boone is Appalachian State University's historic 34-32 football victory over Michigan. I'm an ASU graduate and though I grumble about increased traffic, it was a wild time. The students tore down the home goalposts, even though it was an away game. Our newspaper is printing extra copies of the sports edition because we figure it will be a collector's item. My friend Marie Freeman took a lot of cool pictures at www.blueridgeblog.blogs.com.

I love football but for some reason I feel more connection with the Carolina Panthers. I used to enjoy many sports but now pro football is my main sofa-tuber purpose--it's probably because I don't have TV and for football I only need to find a TV once a week or so.

It looks like the airfield scenes for
"Against The Wind" are pretty much finished. I got to fly in an old biplane yesterday. I was dragged bloody and groaning from the plane for an extended scene, a wounded unsung hero. My Method Acting was through recalling the wee hours when I was dragged back to my dorm room, dribbling booze vomit and nursing a kicked head...

Though I look mean and serious in all my scenes, it's actually because my brain is boiling due to all the leather and the fact that I'm not wearing my glasses and I'm squinting at everything, like bullets, airplane hangers, the director's wildly waving arms, the ground. I'm also ready to ditch the mustache.

New article up about graphic novels. I've got a positive response on adapting They Hunger but I'm realizing I need to get some artwork for it, which probably means hiring an artist. I believe professionals should be paid but I'm not so sure about investing in a speculative venture. Besides, all my friends in movies and comics are all trying to write novels now because they think the grass is greener over here...hell, and here I am winging into the world of indie acting, which is almost as bad as poetry when it comes to getting paid.

Aug. 22
Movies--where it's at. It looks like "Against The Wind" will be a slightly bigger movie, as director/producer/writer Brad Batchelor is getting lots of actor calls on the movie. After three days of filming, I'd guess I'm in maybe eight or 10 scenes as a pilot. I'm not an actor by any stretch. The best I can do is keep a grim face and act like war is hell. I can't even get in the mind frame of being a World War I aviator. But I can look sweaty and anxious and look at the sky--not hard to do when we're encased in leather with temperatures approaching 100 at the airfield.

I always chuckle when I hear commentary tracks of movies (which I rarely do because they are so stultifyingly boring) and all the actors can share of their experience was how hot it was that day or how so-and-so was a real trooper for doing their take six times while wearing a rubber dinosaur belly. They rarely bring the world into their experience. Well, screw that--try digging ditches in 100-degree heat. I've done that, plenty of times. Tell them to get a goddamned job if they're going to whine about life outside an air-conditioned trailer.

A portion of a major motion picture was shot here, and a friend of mine was location scout. He talked about how the caterer had to go to every grocery store in town to find bananas that had no spots. It's not like they're eating the peels. I'll bet Johnny Depp would never insist on spotless bananas.

Anyway, what's the point? Am I bitter because I'm not a pompous, successful actor or do I think acting is a peculiar talent that deserves a little megolamania? I don't know. I'd still rather be a writer. Sending in my horror script and about to adapt "They Hunger" as a script and possibly a graphic novel. I have a talented artist lined up and it's just a matter of figuring out how to script a comic (and then getting a deal for it, of course). It's going to be under my original title of "The Gorge." Then we'll see.

Aug. 16
The latest edition of "Autograph Collector" magazine features an article on "Masters of Horror" by Vince Liaguno. Focusing on the collectibility of horror as well as the genre's trends, it has Deborah LeBlanc, Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum and me as interview subjects. I've never really considered myself a collectible author because I haven't focus much on putting out limited editions, though I hope to put all the older titles back in print that way and get a nice hardcover edition to boot. Since my first novel The Red Church is selling for between $17 and $83 (not that I actually think it sells for the latter, but that's the asking price from a couple of people), a limited edition wouldn't be all that much more expensive.

Still working on screenplays, though I'm exploring a graphic novel project based on one of my books. The plan is to develop it simultaneously as a movie script--we'll see how that works out. I also have an idea for a bizarre and fun little series that sounds like it could sell. As usual, it's a case of where best to put the energy. I need to nail a couple of these projects down because I don't like the feeling of being scatterbrained. I'm hearing They Hunger is still pretty visible in the stores, and even in the United Kingdom, which is strange since I didn't get a deal there. I guess somebody bucked up and paid the overseas freight to get them there. I'm still acting in "Against The Wind," with a couple of lines and more scenes, including what looks to be a death scene Sunday. Since one of my deepest fantasies is to die on screen, this may work out in ways I've never imagined.

Aug. 7
New review of They Hunger at Mania, and writing article "Talking Points: Dialogue" posted here at the Haunted Computer. Also, members of the Inner Circle just got some big news--if you haven't signed up, make sure you don't miss the next not-to-be-missed thing.

TrinocCon was a blast--one of the best cons I've ever been to, with a really warm vibe. George R.R. Martin was hilarious and wise, and I got to see friends like Alex Sokoloff, Dale Bailey, and Stephen Mark Rainey, as well as meet people I've admired like Elizabeth Hand and Nathan Ballingrud. Here are me and Alex, and I'm reading her excellent novel "The Harrowing."

My foray into drama (besides that little bit already afforded by my human existence) continues Friday night as I "guest star" in the outdoor drama Horn in the West in Boone, NC. I supposedly dress up in late 17th century pioneer gear, along with Girl, then stand around for a while until I figure out when to deliver my line. Sunday, I'll be back at the airport in Marion, NC, shooting more scenes from "Against The Wind," with a few lines and a more active involvement in the production of the movie. I'm exploring ways to do more movie work, though of course my first wish is to be a writer.

Here's a shot of actress Hilarie Burton at the premiere of "The List." She is bright and charming, and the entire cast had a great camaraderie. Look for the movie in your neck of the woods.

The garden is rolling along fine. Squash, tomatoes, tons of greens, garlic, onions. Should have corn, peppers, and okra in a week or two. The weeds are taking over but at this time of year I don't worry about it that much, because first freeze is probably less than two months away. As long as the goats are happy, I'm happy.

July 29
Just mailed off the Book Whose Title Is Yet Unknown by He Who Shall Currently Remain Nameless. I learned fairly early on not to announce book titles until the publisher decided on a title, and since I have no idea whose name will be on the book, there's no point going into that. All I know is that I wrote it. I think.

And it's something totally different than what most people might expect. Except those who really know me. They'll be the ones who will say, "This is what you should have been writing all along." It's a long story, but basically I've been working on this one my entire career, so I suppose in some ways it IS my entire creative journey. Oh, and, there could be a sequel...if it sells, and if the publisher wants another, and if the Person Who Gets The Byline lets me write it.

Now I'm continuing with another Project Unlike My The-The Novels under A Name That Is Different From The Other Two. Need a scorecard? Just to keep it simple, there is a Scott Nicholson "The-The" book under submission to my agent, so don't think the spooky Appalachian folk tales are all done. And there are some other projects. That's what I've been up to while not updating my blog, so forget all the rumors about my confinement in rehab, my secret marriage in Costa Rica, or my fiery death as a Mayan volcanic sacrifice. No, wait--I like that one, and it would probably be good for book sales.

I'll get another turn as "Cpl. Scott Nichols" in Against The Wind, and now I am promised some lines. I didn't get any last time, besides a grunt, though I had several scenes where my face basically chewed up the scenery. At least my face is good for something, and maybe the director will need it to stop a propellor or something. I'm going to Charlotte tomorrow for a press junket surrounding the premier of The List. Hopefully I'll get to share some krovvy with Malcolm McDowell.

July 20
I'm putting on my "actor's face" tomorrow to play a World War I aviation corporal in Against The Wind, an indie movie being filmed by my friend Brad Batchelor. I play "Scott Nichols," and I'm supposed to have some lines but I read that section of the script and don't see any. Apparently we'll do some ad-libbing, and I reckon I'll spin a tearful, "Whooo, I hope I make it back home to my goats. Where's my parachute?"

I have to shave my beard, which has again reached hillbilly proportions--I suppose the military was so-so clean-cut back then because I'll have a mustache and my hippie hair will be stuffed under one of those "Rocky The Flying Squirrel" caps. And I get the groovy goggles.

It's possible I'll have to ride in a rickety biplane--a friend of mine knows the plane and said, "It runs okay but he hasn't figured out how to stop it yet." Oh, well, beats slipping and cracking your skull in the dairy section. Who wouldn't want an obituary that read, "He died in a fiery movie scene"? Man, think of the CNN coverage and the books that would sell, not to mention the moral outrage over the proliferation of Internet bootlegs. I've always wanted to be a "celebrity death photo," but I'm kind of hoping it will be 30 years from now...

July 13
Have some action on one of my books and scripts. Nothing's final yet (boy, those words and Hollywood go together like Myspace and "unexpected error") but it looks like everything's worked out but the actual signatures and the actual part of the dream where some cigar-smoking cinematic genius backs a truckload of money to my door. Oh, wait, maybe that was in the script...

Anyway, as soon as something officially happens, I'll be sure to officially verify, but in the meantime, the rumor is good publicity so go tell all your friends you heard it from the horse's mouth. (When you think about it, aren't all horses "naysayers"?) Maybe I've just been awake too long. Here's a photo by Jamie Goodman of me steppin' out on bass for the Fourth of July--heck, I didn't even get a blister, except on my tongue.

July 9
I was changing over papers and glove box stuff to my new car (read: "different used car") when I opened the owner's manual of the old car and found a dried, pressed, perfect four-leaf clover. Not a "Have you met Jesus?" card or "My other car is a BMW." It was a nice moment of serendipity and a reflection that I had driven the other car four years without major incident and no accidents of any kind, despite driving the last 500 miles without brakes. So the four-leaf clover has found a home in my new glove box. And a picture of Girl on the dash. I hope to have this one for four years, too--though it's pretty much a late 90's soccer mom car.

Working on some scripts right now, as well as a long story that had been lying around the desktop for a couple of years. My story "Fallow" was accepted for the Nation of Ash post-nuke anthology, and in the words of the editor, "You are one sick fuck." Hmm, I thought I was kinder and gentler these days.

July 4
Just finished an interview for Dark Scribe Magazine, a quarterly publication focusing on, well, dark scribing. Also finished my Nation of Ash short story for a post-nuclear holocaust anthology. I don't know if that's supposed to be a secret but I suppose it's not anymore...

Also working up a few songs for a coffeehouse, open-mike gig. I'm playing in our newspaper's float in the Fourth parade, and at this point I don't know if it's bluegrass, blues, country, or rap. I'm ready to swing in either direction.

I'm also beefing up and formalizing my editing service, getting some ads out. I've enjoyed the work I've done so far and to my delight found I've learned about the craft and also improved my own writing through working with other people. Also posted "What's In A Name?," an article about choosing character names. Apparently there's a good review of They Hunger in Fangoria. Cool. I don't even know if I can find one around here.

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