This journal now at Diggernicholson blogspot
You need a Digger T-shirt, right? Poetic License is doing T-shirts of my comics covers, as well as new book releases (at least the ones to which I have rights). The new, right-side-up cover #1 is there (this will be the cover of the trade paperback), as well as Dirt #2 and the kids' spooky-fun comic, Little Shivers. Shivers is done, we're now setting up a promo copy release to seek publishers. This has been a week of revisions, but the new novel manuscript should be nailed by the week before Halloween. There are two other projects on the burner already.
I'm putting in a chimney and doing the carpentry work myself, and it's been refreshing to get away from the computer now that the garden no longer offers appeal. We're supposed to get frost this week, but there's not much left to be damaged. Despite the blight, I canned 24 pints of tomatoes and 11 pints of corn. I don't know why I do these things,. Sometimes I think the time should be spent writing and earning money so I can buy groceries and fuel, but I have an odd need for self-sufficiency. There's also a part of my brain that says if I can reduce the overhead of life, then it will be easier to make the shift to full-time, sweat-pants-wearing freelance writing. Another part says, "This is where you are and where you'd be anyway, even if you were a bestseller. You just wouldn't be driving to town five days a week." Incidentally, The Digger writes a pop-culture column for Crankit Entertainment...next month, taking on Kanye.
As I revamp Haunted Computer, I will keep longer posts to this journal but much of my daily action will be moving to Blogspot and Facebook because it's so much easier to share photos, videos, and links. And, of course, I tweet. Authors have to tweet or they will take our license and ban us from embarrassing ourselves while trying to sell our products. Speaking of which, I just got some copies of "Scattered Ashes" from Dark Regions Press, signed, limited edition hardcovers, buy them straight from me and save $10....
About time for a final push to sell out They Hunger. I don't know if Kensington is going back for another print run, so if you're hesitating, they may all be gone, and then you will have to chase them down on eBay. I hope I get to do a revision someday, because I was reading through it for the graphic novel adaptation and one part is really stupid. Well, maybe more than one, but this one offended even me, and I wrote the damned thing. Somehow here in my old age I've grown quite fond of hating everything I write, or maybe I have belatedly dicovered the joy of revision.
There's a general consensus that 10 years is more or less the gestation period of a writer. I'm a year or two past that now, so I guess I was getting published during my apprenticeship. Some writers never seem to improve once they get published, because they figure--quite reasonably, if it's paying the bills--that what they're doing is working. others regress in a desperate attempt to find what's trendy. others create new challenges and blossom both artistically and commercially. I'm not sure which future is mine. All three look possible for me, except I can never figure out what's trendy, so that detour is probably off the map. I do know that when I put in a good day's writing and fight the good fight, I feel nigh on invincible, whether such stuff gets published or not. I always tell writers to write for that feeling, that moment of triumph, because that might be the only reward. Now if I can believe it myself...
Other people I paneled with and/or encountered were Jonathan Maberry, James A. Moore, Scott Allie, Jackie Kessler, Kat Richardson, Cherie Priest, Christopher Golden, John Everson, J.F. Lewis,Chesya Burke, Elizabeth Donald, and Heather Brewer. Steampunk is the new Goth and science fiction appears to be bucking the trend of declining book sales, according to editors and publishers. And people still like to dress up in weird costumes...attendance is usually pegged at around 60,000 for the four days. I have some pictures and a video up at my new Digger blog, diggernicholson.blogspot.com
Chad left a wife and two young children. We'll be holding a silent auction at the Haunted Wilkes paranormal conference Oct. 23-25 to raise money for the family. It was sad to open my greenpark mailbox and see a message from Chad, talking about how he was looking forward to the conference and being one of the presenters. Now he's on the site for a different reason, though Chad will definitely be presenting in spirit. Anyone wanting to donate items for the auction can email me at greenparkparanormal. Rest in peace, big guy.
My honey is the honest type, and we have great communication, and she's been plowing through "The Farm." And she says the parts that aren't scary are boring. Too much character development. She's right. I enjoy getting in the characters' heads so much I sometimes forget the story has to keep moving. So I cut chapter four out of the new novel project, because its work could be summed in a paragraph. I often tend to build a leisurely pace and then go over the top, tossing in the kitchen sink, skeletons from the closet, hallucinogens, spiritual awakenings, and occasional blood and grue and setting the blender to "Max." Some writers take a cerebral, calculated approach to their plots, in the same way there is a screenplay "formula" that is sold over and over in screenwriting books. I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, which can get me in trouble unless I stay honest enough to cut out the excess. Fortunately, since I've been working as a freelance editor, I have to take the same advice I give to other people--cut it, then cut some more. I try to log two pages a day, so cutting two weeks of work can seem like moving backwards. But two things happen: the work immediately improves, and I'm likely to avoid the mistake the next time out.
Check out John Palisano's video trailer for Gary Braunbeck's novel Far Dark Fields at Fangoria.
back after a pleasant honeymoon on the NC coast, with
some full-moon kayaking, lots of fresh seafood, water
play, and dropping some books off at local libraries.
Ghostwriter Publications is gearing up for the launch of The First, my first United Kingdom
release and an updated version of Flowers, coming up on
10 years after its original release. Wow, what a journey!
In writing news, my story "Fallow" has been accepted for the Shivers VI anthology from Cemetery Dance. Also a shout out to Trevor Denyor, editor of Midnight Street, and Hope Roten for organizing a solid inaugural Wilkes County Library convention and to W.R.Frady and Eric Stone, as well as the cool folks in the 501st Storm trooper garrison who will be at the High Country Comicon.
If you're a writer, the new comprehensive yet eclectic guide Writers Workshop of Horror is up for preorder. Also indulge in my article Seven Bad Habits Of Highly Unsuccessful Writers. Also selling off some of my horror paperback collection, check out the store for details. It's been a strange gardening season, with cool and wet weather, then dry and hot, and now unseasonably cool, with lows getting in the 40s overnight. Onions and tomatoes seem to love it, but corn and squash are unhappy campers. I've been replanting some for fall crops, but I don't think I'll achieve the pantry full of canned veggies I imagined. Still, I am grateful for every wonderful bite.
The wedding is now less than two weeks away! We've decided that the major stressors of life are all coinciding--moving, wedding, money concerns, and family--no, make that two families, in all their dysfunctional glory! We've rented a lodge for a week to put them all up. If nothing else, we'll have free entertainment. Through Tao and God, Love can survive these tests, surely. And we'll end up grinning in early August. I am very happy.
Agents have been given incredible influence, and whatever their love of literature and their intent as guardians of the hallowed gate, some of them are just plain arrogant and rude and treat writers like cockroaches (unless those cockroaches happen to be shelling out 15 percent of six-figure book deals). Don't take my word for it--go read their own blogs and Web sites. We've reached a point where the average writer doesn't even merit a form email rejection, and the average wait for a response (if you actually expect one) is going to be three to six months, even when they ask for exclusive consideration. Now, do I sound bitter? I'm not, I promise you, because I get read most times and I get taken seriously, and I only want an agent who is really passionate about what I do. In the meantime, I'll be damned if I let the "industry" determine what and when and how I write.
This sounds like a contradiction because I used to pay much attention to markets and what is "hot," even looking wistfully at the bestseller lists and comparing what people wanted to read with what I wanted to write. It was an exercise in wasted energy. I still say be aware of the industry trends, the changing environment, the technology, the surprise bestsellers (there aren't many of them these days because they are made and not born), the agent track records and the editorial tastes. And forget all that when you write. Because all that stuff will be old news when you sit down one day to review your oeuvre, your mountain o' crap, your word account, your soul on the page. One of my core mantras is "If something can make you quit writing, go ahead and quit. It's better to be happy."
No, this is not a "I write for love" rant, espousing self-publishing or freebie markets. This is about "I write for life." Do it because you can't not do it. Write something so totally anti-commercial that you dare agents to represent it. I used to sort of apologize when I did book signings, like "This is horror and you probably won't like it..." Now, my first novel was very successful and I have not yet matched that commercial success, and maybe my attitude created energy around my products. There were things going on in my personal life that makes it a miracle I wrote at all, much less actually published anything. But maybe that's the answer to its own riddle--I wrote. I was alive. I couldn't not write.
Last night, snuggled in bed with Honey (three weeks until wedding!), and I got a line for an idea I've been kicking around. I'd gotten to the point of resenting ideas, because I already had about eight different novels, screenplays, and comics in various stages of completion. But I drilled that idea into my head and remembered it this morning. Freedom means the line is more valuable than what anyone could ever pay me for it. I'm writing it and I'm selling it, but that soul connection between the universe and my original string of words is priceless. I am writing things I would never have dreamed myself capable of, and shudder if I had been stuck writing "The The" books the rest of my life.
I know some best-selling writers, and some of them are more worried about their future than do writers who have never been published. And if you look at bestsellers of the past, you can find scads of them at used book sales across the world, many of them interchangeable, their work done and their time over. Me, I like paying bills as much as the next guy, but give me that moment, that perfect insight, that sublime array of vowels, that high after a good writing session. Don't need an agent, editor, or publisher for that. Don't need approval, royalties, or a panel slot at a convention. Don't even need a fancy computer, Twitter, or a writing organization.
All you need are words and the courage to wield them.
One day you stand alone before the mirror of God. What ya got?
We've finished the first issue of The Gorge, now it's time to put it all together and get it to publishers. We'll either do it as a six-issue series or collect it into a trade paperback. I am real pleased with the art and will be revealing some here at the site soon, but in the meantime, we'll work on Dirt #3 if I don't go broke first--got the wedding coming up in a month...
Details of the 2009 Haunted Computer Paranormal Conference are posted now. We're disappointed in the loss of the Green Park Inn, but this location came together so well that it's almost like there were, uh, forces beyond our control making it happen.
I don't like absolutes of black and white, because they are simplistic and meant to be reassuring but generally just gloss over any true embracing of our purpose here. Do we do the right thing even when no one is looking? If so, do we do it only because we think God is looking and will eventually pay out some reward? I had this discussion with writer Eric Wilson at Hypericon, and even in Christian fiction there is a schism between those who want the comforting company line and those who want to take on the real issues of faith. Of course, it's still just fiction, but maybe that's the only place we can afford to be honest.
In the unveiling of all things Nicholson, here's a gander at Samantha Smartt, Julian Furr's sidekick in the Dreamboat series. or maybe she's the star--we'll see who emerges on top. Artist Sergio Castro is working on the first issue, and soon these guys will be available in a T-shirt. We're also finishing up The Gorge issue, a full-color book that I will be shopping around soon. I had at blast at the Heroes convention in Charlotte, miles and miles of comic books (at least, it seemed that way, and lots of different creators. The indie guys seemed to get lost in the dust, with long lines waiting to meet Chris Claremont and some of the other artists. My personal highlights were meeting Steve Niles and Eric Powell, though I spent the day divided between fanboy mode and creator mode. Post Mortem Comics and friends Bitter Tea Studio and Jester Press had a slow start but things seemed to pick up later Saturday.
After seeing all those mountains of old comics, many of them selling for 50 cents or a dollar, walking around with Dirt #1 and #2 felt a little silly. But, hey, there's only one Digger, and there's only one Scott Nicholson, though I am not sure which is which anymore. It will be even worse when the T-shirt comes out...incidentally, I am running a special--order the first two issues of Dirt from me and you get a FREE original sketch card--my own rendition of The Digger. I am not a real artist, and therefore I can guarantee you that no two of these cards will be the same! Plus you get a limited-edition sticker from Post Mortem Comics.
Also, if you are a comics fan, please go to your local store and ask them to order comics through Haven Distributors--it's the new refuge of the independents and where all the comics of tomorrow will emerge. Unfortunately, not many comic stores seem to know it yet. A few other alternative distributors are popping up, and with lots of people concerned about Diamond Distributors' cutting of titles that don't sell in the thousands, then the small press will have to find new avenues to survive and thrive. Luckily, in the Internet Age, a paper catalog is old-fashioned anyway, but change takes time, they say. Guess they aren't on Twitter.
I miss my chickens and garden--this year really feels like a struggle for some reason, with odd weather--too rainy, then too cool, late frost, then sudden summer. I've had a few requests for garden updates, so let's just say the slugs are winning, though I do have a few new greens this year like tatsoi, fennel, and a different kind of Swiss chard, as well as four different kinds of potatoes. Here's what kind of garden nerd I am--I got this great big pick-up load of cow crap, piled up for over a year, in a creaky old truck with bad tires and a door that doesn't shut and you can start it without a key. Heaven! Also have about 50 tomato plants this year, as the canning experience was so satisfying last year that I'm going to keep us busy this fall. Also have many more green beans this year, five different varieties, three of them heirloom. About two-thirds of the seeds came from my own stock, saved from last year, and there are other things I'm learning about seeds. For example, some things seed in the spring after overwintering--turnips, parsnips, parsley. I always wondered how you get cabbage seeds--I guess you just leave the stalk in the ground and let it go full cycle. I'll have a "chicken post" next week, as I'm writing a newspaper article on my experience with chickens.
I was discussing with another starving artist this morning whether Van Gogh was a "success" or not. The core issue is whether Van Gogh failed because he made very little money off his art and once was so hungry he ate part of his own ear after that unrequiting lover sent it back (oh, wait, now I'm confusing it with zombies). At any rate, the art is enduring, and so what if Van Gogh couldn't hustle a buck in his day? Too many writers are worried about pimping product, hyping their persona, schmucking up at writer events--you know, typical human behavior when people are in some type of "career." I used to be very career-oriented but as my life branched out, I guess I just wanted jobs. And not even "work." Just labors of love. I've always said writing isn't a career, it's a lifestyle. When I have to write one of those third-person biographies and put in all the weird stuff I do--comic books, screenplays, paranormal conferences, comic-show hosting, organic gardening, chicken raising, novelist and a full-time job as a journalist--sometimes it's just busting at the seams and maybe I should just try to do one thing well. But I try to do all things well. Maybe not the top in any field, maybe not even good enough to be noteworthy, but with full passion. And the people I've met in the course of these various endeavors have really enriched my life in ways I couldn't imagine if I had sat at a keyboard for the last five years the way I thought I wanted.
Now, I do want to bring all these experiences to the keyboard, and I do. I told my honey she's made me so happy it's hard to write a song anymore--I think I have written two or three this year. In my younger and unhappier days, it was common for me to write five a week. I'm too poor to be comfortable and too egotistical to be content with mediocrity. All my Taoist musings aside, there's this core little Scottie Nicholson that wants to kick the world's ass and stand on the mountain with my gleaming trophy, beating my chest and screaming, "Told ya so!" Then I'd get bored and give the trophy away and come back down the mountain, leaving it for the next sucker's bloody, painful climb.
I have this new comic concept called...ah, never mind!
I fully believe the book industry has changed so much that many of the old rules apply. The Internet offers you the books at your fingertips, and though there's nothing like the heady smell of ink and paper in a bookstore (and expensive coffee if you're lucky), I am not sure bookstores are "cool" enough for the modern shopper. They tend to cater to the sweet-potato-pie crowd and reading clubs, and though I dearly love both, I am not sure they are a broad enough audience.
My honey and I talked about what kind of stores we'd open if we wanted--I used to own a sports card store in the 1990s, and though that fad faded, I am now organizing and hosting sports cards and comic shows, so I enjoy it. I might even add some books, but a used book store selling 25-cent paperbacks and dollar hardcovers requires a ton of room and a slim profit margin. It's hard to see how any survive in a downtown area. Unless you own the property, I don't see how it would work as a business. We have a "freebie table" at work, where people put out things they don't want and take things they need. There's a stack of paperbacks, some by well-known authors, that have been there about two months. Nobody wants them. And this is a newspaper, where presumably most of the people are literate.
What kinds of things would draw a younger, hipper audience? Stores already say author signings are not big draws anymore. Sure, people will line up for miles to see Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, but the guy down the street with the new memoir is probably not going to bring in the skateboard crowd. Adding video games, DVDs, flashy things seem like a culture clash, but those things are already available on the Internet, cell phones, and other tiny, portable devices. Maybe books will eventually migrate there, too, as soon as today's tweeners become little old ladies. I do know the number of new fiction titles declined by 11 percent last year (decimation in its truest sense) while the number of print-on-demand titles soared and now is more than twice that of traditional, offset titles. Yet I personally know of several author friends of mine doing amazingly well, so there is no blanket statement of "Publishing is dead."
Personally, I have found joy in putting together my "pop cons," and my paranormal conference, and developing comic books. I still write and I'm working on an interesting novel, but it's just one of many passions now. The umbrella is getting larger and they all seem to fit. So this issue is something I've been pondering both for myself and for the effect on our culture. I am not sure of the future of books or publishing but I still believe those messages of the soul will find their way to the world.
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Simply email me the page address where the banner and link is posted (to graveconditions AT yahoo.com), and I will email over the PDF file. No fuss, no muss, no trees destroyed, and great Digger fun for all.
Been busy working on the new novel and a number of comics projects. An update on Scattered Ashes, it is now available in trade paperback through Horror Mall and Amazon, with the collector hardcover editions at Dark Regions and Horror Mall. Comics news: I don't have a catalog order number, but if you drop by or call your favorite local comics shop, ask them to order "Dirt" from Post Mortem Comics, available through the Haven Distributors catalog.
Also in development are the comics Dreamboat, Murdermouth, The Red Church, The Gorge, Grave Conditions, and another project for young readers that is too early in development to share much about. I'll soon be expanding the comics section to include more art. Post Mortem is developing the Digger character as a T-shirt and collectible statue, too. So that's why I haven't been around much to update all these pages, but look for some new articles soon, as well as information on a couple of new books.
Congratulations to my friends Christopher Ransom and Jack Kilborn (aka Joe Konrath on the success of their new books. I'm glad to see good books are still being published and consumed. Keep reading!
Also announcing the deal for The Home movie option has been signed, which will be developed by producer Lea Marin with Sean Frewer attached to direct. Marin is a member of the Canadian Film Board and Frewer has directed some animated series for MTV. Thanks to my friend Stephanie Boddington and her passion for the story in getting it to Sean. Hopefully it will get some financing and a script soon, then move forward to the big screen. The usual question is "Who would you like to see in the lead roles?" and I'd have to answer that I don't watch enough movies to know anything, as long as it's not that chunky red-headed kid Mason whatever who was a child star when I was young. Or one of the Partridge kids. I guess I'd like to see Johnny Depp with a big role, as that would mean a big budget. Heck, I'd even vote for Pauly Shore or Tom Arnold or Bugs Bunny as long as it went into production. Obviously I have no vote, though, so I'm trusting the production team's vision.
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