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JULY 29, 2001
The screenplay for "Creep" is over three-fourths of the way complete. The last bit is mostly action after the psychological build-up of the first two acts. Hopefully it will help with the sale of the novel by the same name. Coming up is an original screenplay, but it will have to wait until the completion of the novel
Deadscape. That particular story has gained more complexity as it's gone along, so who knows where it will end up?

The "Virgin In The Church" column series is being well-received, with a growing number of subscribers to the newsgroup. It's being carried by at least five websites and a dozen or so writers' newsletters. The series is a lot of fun to write and gives me a chance to examine all of the weird stuff connected to being a published novelist.

JULY 23, 2001
Not much new on "The Red Church." The contract hasn't come back from the agency and my editor is off on vacation. I've had contact with a couple of people at Kensington, and they are kind but a bit terse in their communications. To be expected, I suppose, since they publish 500 books a year. It's oh so easy for a new writer to forget that he's not the only writer in the world or even in a publisher's stable.

My story "Doomsday Diary" has been accepted for the anthology The Omega Project. I don't know when and where it will be released. The story "The Shaping" was slated for the anthology When Darkness Answers, but that project has morphed into a book called Cold Touch. Projects have a way of morphing all to often, sometimes into complete vapor.

The astute reader (i.e., all who are sober) will notice that the Haunted Computer has undergone a redesign. My friend Brian did the polishing and concept, I did some of the minor grunt work. If you'd like to contact him for some web design, go for it here.

JULY 14, 2001
Got my first cover blurb for "The Red Church" back today, from best-selling SF author Kevin J. Anderson. Kevin says, "Scott Nicholson writes with a mixture of H.P. Lovecraft, Manly Wade Wellman, and Clive Barker, stirred with a liberal dose of his own originality, to tell an effective and atmospheric tale."

Also today received a letter from author Stewart O'Nan in response to my query. He wants to get an advance reader copy and write a cover blurb. I dearly admire his 1999 novel "A Prayer For The Dying." So my cover blurbs will be from a broad range of writers, I hope. One of my goals is to make the book appeal to a lot of different readers, because I think it has one or two universal themes that everybody can enjoy. Er, um, I mean "sucker people into buying the book."

JULY 5, 2001
My story "Scarecrow Boy" is currently online at Chizine. This story has killed a magazine and an anthology, so I'm really happy to see it climb up the heap. It's one I wrote shortly after I started in 1996, and has gone through a few bounces and rewrites since. It's a weird one, so naturally I like it.

The contract for "The Red Church" has arrived at my agent's office and it will run through the legal team before heading my way. Much of it appears to be non-negotiable, the curse of all first-time novelists. The most important thing to me is eventually getting all the rights back, which looks like will happen in 2009. I've seen too many writers give up too many rights and lose control over their earlier books. My theory is that I might just happen to be worth a little more in the future than I am today (and as cheap as I am right now, that's hardly an impossibility).

Kensington Books does a good job of keeping its books in print for at least a few years, and longer if they are still selling steadily. A lot of books lose their steam after the first year, which is why it's important to get that next book in the pipeline and keep the kettle warm.

I ran into Jon F. Merz online, and he's also sold a novel that Pinnacle will release at the same time as mine. He's writing his own column on his experiences as a first novelist, so visit his website and sign up for it and laugh at both of our mistakes. We're working on some cross-promotion ideas that are sure to be a lot of fun.

June 27, 2001
"Virgin In The Church" has transformed into a series of monthly columns which will appear in various writers' newsletters. I'm giving it away free in order to promote The Red Church. You can sign up to receive it through the column's
egroup or read installments here at The Haunted Computer. I already have a few ezines interested in the columns.

Though it's primarily of interest to writers, I think anyone who is curious about books or the publishing industry will enjoy them. I've already written the first two installments. Got the contracts yesterday for "Scarecrow Boy" which will appear in Chizine in July and for "Murdermouth" which is slated for The Book of All Flesh in October.

June 22, 2001
I'll be keeping an online journal "Virgin In The Church" describing my experiences of selling, marketing, promoting, and other news of my novel "The Red Church." (Pinnacle Books, June 2002). It might be instructive for those trying to build a writing career, it will be entertaining for readers who want a behind-the-page scene of the book business, and it will most certainly be a laugh for those who think authors are rich, famous, or intelligent.

This is my first novel sale, so it's all a learning experience, though I've been researching the publishing industry diligently since the moment I decided to become a professional writer in the summer of 1996. Neil Gaiman has a similar journal based on "American Gods," which is a hardcover bestseller and on a totally different scale from mine. He's produced numerous books, screenplays, comics, graphic novels, toys, etc., and is something of a god himself, with good looks, humility, and charisma.

So look for "Virgin..." to be posted online beginning in July.

June 15, 2001
My novel "The Red Church" will be released as a mass market paperback by Pinnacle Books in June 2002. It's a novel that was written over a nine-month period in 1998-99, and of course went through several requisite revisions, though the basic meat of the story never altered. It was written without an outline, and I only wrote the synopsis after the book was done.

Apparently the book beat long odds by rising from the slush pile of unsolicited submissions. Lucky for me, I had an agent reading something else at the time who agreed to negotiate the deal for me. It's really better than I could have hoped for, and now comes the real hard work of hyping the novel to increase the print run. Good sales figures are especially important at the beginning of a writer's career. So please tell your local bookstores about it (more than once, if possible!)

Also, stay tuned to the Haunted Computer for special giveaways and announcements concerning the book. If you haven't joined yet, consider signing up for the Scottstuff newsletter so you can get your quarterly news as well as win great prizes.

The book is apparently already in the pipeline, though I've yet to see the contract. My agent was able to get me a small increase in the royalty rate and it looks at this point the book will be marketed as horror. I think of it more as a "modern Appalachian folk tale," or a thriller with supernatural elements. Actually, it's a book about faith.

June 8, 2001
Today I played a 19th Century Southern journalist during a local Civil War re-enactment. Screenwriter Lew Hunter advises that all potential film hacks should step on the stage once in a while to understand that the words and stage directions are more than just lines of script. So I show up all bushy-tailed, there's about 200 people dressed in period clothing, many on horses and armed. I don my top hat and coat and my cotton breeches. I ask innocently, "What am I supposed to do?"

This is war, so I'm supposed to fake it. The Union troops ride in, and I get captured along with a bunch of women and children. After playing the coward for a few minutes, I get in the spirit of the thing. When troops start robbing women and scaring children, I shove Yankees, protecting my hat in the process. One of them has a little bit too much fun shoving me around with his rifle, and I hit the deck. (Northerners always wuz a little too pushy, ya know?)

Since this entire event consists of 200 people faking an entire battle, it's utter madness wrapped in caramel-coated fun. Dead soldiers lay on the ground and grins erupt too often from gut-shot soldiers. The Yankees shove us around, but then the fellows in gray mount a courageous counter-attack and drive the invaders away. Today, the Yankees are driven from the field, and the Rebel flag carries the day. Since the depicted battle centered around a town that changed hands 72 times during the War Against Northern Aggression, then it's safe to have the ending come out either way.

Some of my best lines shouted at Yankees: "Shoulda stayed in New York" and "Don't you mess with my hat!"

I'm ashamed to discover a streak of stubborn Rebel pride in me ;)

June 2, 2001
Some good news this week, but until things are official, I can't say too much. I have signed with the William Morris Agency, which covers a wide range of creative talent-- magicians, directors, actors, singers, writers, stage producers, just about every art form that someone will pay to watch or consume. I think it's going to be a really great fit, and I'm excited about the coming year.

I actually had to write a rejection letter to an agent who had been reading a different project. Unfortunately, he hadn't contacted me in the last two months. The letter gave me no pleasure, though it was rather odd to be the one saying "no" after receiving several hundred "nos" of my own.

Sold the story "Murdermouth" to the anthology The Book of All Flesh. Mine is a zombie love story. I've figured out that most of what I write are love stories. They just sometimes have some weird stuff going on as well. But, really, what is weirder than love?

MAY 28, 2001
My story "Tellers" was accepted by Speculon for a September appearance. The editor there has set a high standard for web fiction publishing, both in content and professional dealings. The story is a loose science fantasy set in my futuristic Areopagan society.

I've started swimming as a form of meditation/reclusion as well as a chance to get this middle-aged body into some form of limberness. I'm generally in better physical shape than I have been in years, though I suppose my mental health still remains suspect. I've posted some info on my novella Transparent Lovers, and will update it as soon as I receive cover art, jacket copy, etc. The Creep screenplay is nearly halfway through the first draft.

MAY 21:
What I'm reading: the how-to writing books Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434 and Steal This Plot; Daphne Du Maurier's The Flight of the Falcon; Mark L. Smith's screenplay I Will; and Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby.

The screenplay of Creep is veering off from the novel plot line, at least in the sequences and minor character development. I knew the story would have to bend for the visual format because so much of the original is psychological and internalized by the main character Julia. I'm having to resort to using flashbacks, which usually means a story is either weak or should have a different starting point. However, since the flashes are Julia's memory, and her memory isn't necessarily accurate, and she's building the memory as the story develops, then maybe it will work.

MAY 11:
The revision for Transparent Lovers is finished, off to England at 12,600 words and only 19 days ahead of deadline. I was able to actually grow the story (I hope) instead of just pad it, and there are a couple of extra twists thrown in. Might be fun to produce as a television screenplay one day, if the book stirs any interest. I believe this book will mark my first printed appearance in England.

My story ""The Night The Wind Died" was accepted for Flesh & Blood #10. It's the third story in the Makers series. I think I'm going to work on more stories this year and connect them into a young adult book. All the horror and crime stories I wrote last year seem very petty and nasty, and also aren't selling well. I need to throw my false optimism into my fiction instead of just spewing it into the real world.

You know, when times are tough, there's only one thing to go: let's go bowling.

MAY 3:
A trip to the local college library yielded some wondrous treasures: Five Screenplays by William Goldman, as well as his novel Control. If you've visited these pages before, you know I have a soft spot for Goldman. I jumped right into the screenplay for Magic, the novel version of which I consider to be the finest psychological thriller of the last century. The movie, well, perhaps not as good, but a young Anthony Hopkins shows glimpses of the brilliance that later brought Hannibal Lector to life.

A couple of my works appear to be edging toward print. Barley Books of England has asked for an expansion of my novella Transparent Lovers to sell as a stand-alone short book. Barley has requested that I work in some Christmas elements to make it marketable for the coming Yuletide season. Since the story is currently around 10,000 words and involves a ghostly detective in L.A., working in the seasonal trappings will be a welcome challenge. Also my story "Beggar's Velvet" should appear in an as-yet-unnamed anthology to be released by Cosmos Books later this year.

April 11:
What I'm reading: Kiss Me Again, Stranger by Daphne Du Maurier; a screenwriting how-to book; Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke; and Seven Steps To Midnight by Richard Matheson.

What I'm not reading: Britney Spears' new novel.

April 6:
The screenplay Calling In The Fire has a new title, An Appalachian Haunting, and is off to L.A. On the novel front, not much new to report. My collection Thank You For The Flowers lived up to expectations by not making the final Stoker Award ballot. My story "The Way of All Flesh" was selected for the anthology Dark Fantasy: Best of 2000 due out later this year.

Current projects include the screenplay for Creep and more on the novel in progress. The novel's working title has changed from Troubled to Deadscape. Guess it's been a busy week for re-naming. I did a lot of Internet research and came up with some possible good names that were already taken: Brainfire, Blindsight, etc. Ah, well, other cool discoveries-- serotonin uptake levels in people falling in love are similar to those with obsessive-compulsive disorder; the brain has 100 billion neurons, and the possible "network" connections between the neurons is greater than the number of protons and electrons in the universe.


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