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Friday, February 27, 2009

You maul 'em, we haul 'em

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, lend me your ears ... because I like to collect them.

If you've been keeping up, you know that my novel has been revised, printed, and is waiting to be read by the few chosen souls I trust deeply with my work, which translates to the only people that I could get.

I've been working nonstop on Sowen for the last several months, and I think I need to put it away for a week, let it get a little cold, and finish off some other projects I've been neglecting.

I've switched gears to a very adult, very horrific short story called Garbage, Inc. about a guy who kills a woman. Yes, I know, very cliche subject. The hero doesn't know what to do with the dead body. Killing, well, that's the easy part. You can disconnect yourself from murder with the help of rage, jealousy, a whole cornucopia of emotions really. But removing the body, cleaning up all that blood, now that's the hard part, and my hero does not know what to do with the body until suddenly, at two thirty in the morning, he gets a knock at the door. It's a man in a navy blue jumpsuit, and he's there to clean up the mess. The hero asks this man who he is, and the man points to his breast pocket. There's an image of a truck towing a body bag ... the logo for Garbage, Inc.

"You maul em', we haul 'em," the man says.

And so the story begins.

Later Fiends.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finished Draft!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, let's get this party started!

Well I'm sitting next to my revised draft of
Sowen, all 396 manuscript pages, about 70,000 words binded and pretty looking.  With a computer it's easy to forget how large a manuscript actually is, then you spend nearly forty-five minutes printing your novel at work, after hours, hoping that your boss doesn't see you. Not that I would do that of course, but I'm just saying.


Amazon has released the Kindle 2 to mixed reviews.  I'm on the fence about the device myself.  Since I travel often I think it's nice to be able to store over 1,500 books in one little 10.2 ounce device, but I'm turned off by the steep $359 tag and choice of electronic-ink display (I'd rather have seen a color display like the Fujitsu FLEPia e-reader).  

And do we really need an e-reader?  Some reviewers are comparing the Kindle to the Apple iPod, but I think we're talking apples and oranges.  Music and video have been changing formats for years.  It's part of the evolutionary process to get better sound and video quality as the technology advances.  Words, on the other hand, don't require many technological advances.  They work the same way on an ordinary piece of paper as they do on a 60 inch cinema display.  And for many it's nice to at least have one piece of technology--the book--that doesn't require an upgrade or new player or an outlet.  I have books on my shelves that are decades old.  If I buy a Kindle, how long will those digital books last before they become obsolete to a better technology?

What's your thoughts on this, dear reader?


Mastadon's a new album Crack The Sky is coming out 03.24.09 and even if you're not a fan, I would suggest checking out www.crackthesky.com. It's one of the the more hypnotic album sites I've seen in a while.

Later Fiends.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Monster Stamps and Monster Fish

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, let me take your coats. Please warm yourself by the fireplace while I get my -- That? It's, err, nothing. No, it's not a knife! Please, I thought you people knew me better than that ...

Anyway, saw Adam McCauley's Monster stamps on Tor's blog.

But if you're a Disney fan like me, you gotta go with McCauley's Rarely Seen Disney Characters

Do I smell theme park?


It's hard to believe this fish exists in the Pacific Ocean ...

It's called a barreleye fish. The fish was first discovered in 1939 as mangled chum dragged up by fishing nets. The above photo was taken in 2004, but, oddly enough, was not released until today.

Now who doesn't want one of these bad boys in their tank?

Later Fiends.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fresh Eyes

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, Happy Fat Tuesday!

I've almost completed the second revision of Sowen, and I'm ready to start coercing some family members into reading it. This will be the first time fresh eyes will read my novel, and I am awaiting the blank stares and uncomfortable silence that will follow. It's why I have to pick family members, you see.

The story still needs lots of polishing, but the plot makes enough sense for someone to critique the big picture while I continue to grind away at the finer points.


One of my characters would like to say hello. This is Sakima Michalappotis, but if you prefer you can call him the Spider King. He is a wolf spider who was once a Native American Indian chief. Sakima is the leader of a spider tribe that resides in the dead world and comes back to the living world when summoned by the main character Christopher Sowen. Sakima is a natural enemy to the zombified tarantula hawks, but his motives are sometimes questionable. He might be a good guy, or he might have other plans entirely.

Say Hi, Sakima

Later Fiends.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mondays, Poverty, and Zombies

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, dōmo arigatō misutā Robotto!

Ah, another Monday, where the coffee cannot be strong enough, the workday cannot be short enough and the paycheck cannot be displaced enough.

Yesterday, at my local grocery store, I had an interesting encounter at the checkout line. In front of me was a well-to-do looking woman wearing a new fox fur coat, perhaps faux fur, Gucci sun glasses and diamond earrings.

When the woman left, and it was my turn, the cashier and bag person started insulting this woman, who was now packing her groceries into the trunk of her silver Lexus. They were saying how this woman had no business driving a new car, how her jewelry cost more than their own cars, how she was a piece of garbage and a thief, and I to myself thought, why do people feel the need to insult people because they have nicer things? That woman, I was convinced, worked very hard to afford all those luxuries.

The cashier went on about about how she pays for her food with food stamps, and how every time she comes into the store, she has some brand new thing--be it a car, new clothes, jewelry. It seems the workers are rather put off by her use of taxpayer funds.

So, dear reader, what's your opinion?


As a public service announcement for all you horror fans, check out Sick On Sin. They have some awesome zombie paraphernalia like these buttons:

Later Fiends.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tarantula Hawks & Revisions

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, welcome!

Only about 100 more pages to edit in the second revision of Sowen. I've been averaging about 30 pages a day, which is way above normal for me, and I am excited that the finish line is starting to come into view.

I'm currently working on a scene that features tarantula hawks, nasty little things. You get stung by one of these wasps and you'll wish you died instead. Fortunately these wasps don't care much for us humans. They prefer to keep company with, yes, you guessed it, tarantulas.

The female tarantula hawk paralyzes a tarantula, and then lays its eggs inside the spider. When the larvae hatch, they eat their way through the still living tarantula, creating one of the most macabre nurseries in nature.

In Sowen, the tarantula hawks are zombies that paralyze human souls so they can control the person they sting. In the chapter I'm editing, the main characters are having a hell of a time avoiding them.

Right then, back to editing.

Later fiends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Which Dreams Get Murdered... Again

Rejection! Sweet, glorious rejection! Yet another sign the publishing world knows I'm still standing out in the cold, waiting to be let in. Three rejections in one week, all very formal and formatted:

Thank you [insert author's name here],

While your story is exceptional, we cannot accept it at this time ... yadda, yadda, yadda ... you suck.

Murderer of Dreams

And then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and do it again, hopefully a little better than the last.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Process & Demons

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, welcome! But please take your shoes off before entering.

Wow! I mean what about that last post, dear readers. You're probably asking yourself, can he top that? I mean sometimes I intimidate myself, but ... 

Today I thought I'd talk process.  I am currently in the second revision of Sowen, my YA dark fantasy series, and it's been a rough ride getting to this point.  I think anyone who writes-- professional, hobbyist, whatever-- can agree there is a point in the writing process where the demons gather, whispering taunts and dares--You suck!  So and such is better then you'll ever be.  Give up now and spare yourself complete embarrassment. I think at one point I had a gaggle of tiny demons scurrying around my feet, on my desk, everywhere, and they were binging on my frustration. I began spending more time with my demons then with my story.

It took me several months to complete the first draft, in part because I'm not too big on outlining, and my characters kept going off in new directions that caused me to have to add and subtract huge chunks of my manuscript. It's part of the process, part of the amateur's process especially, but it ultimately gave me a couple of weapons to defeat those pesky demons.  And so I thought I'd share two of the things that worked well for me:
  • Forget Plot.  When I started writing the story, I got about halfway through and got stuck.  I wrote myself into a corner that I couldn't write myself out of.  What worked for me was to write other scenes unrelated to where I was stuck.  I put my characters in different situations just to see how they'd react, to hell with the plot.  Without realizing, I was putting chapters together, and though there are still a few gaps in the plot, I was able to finish the draft, and crush a few demons under my foot.
  • Break away from writing to recharge my creativity.  During the drafting process sometimes I felt drained, as if my creative juices had soured.  I had nothing to offer to the story, and everything was stale, flavorless, characters wondered around like zombies (even though some were supposed to).  What worked for me was to immerse myself in the scenes my characters were in.  Since most of my story takes place in my home town, I went hiking on the trails in my story, sat next to the lake which I used as a gateway to a dead world, heck I even went to a car dealership to look at one of the cars I used, a brandie-new gold Shelby Mustang GT, if anyone cares.  This helped recharge me, even gave me a few ideas I had not thought of.  And best of all, I could hear those little f'ers squishing under my heal.
The demons have not left, but they now walk aimlessly with no distinct purpose.  I'm sure they will regroup and attack again.  They always do.  But at least I have some defense against them, you know, for next time.  Maybe it's what separates great writers from good writers: not their prose nor their imagination nor their encyclopedic knowledge, but their ability to slay those demons and just write. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Where Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day Meet

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, welcome to my home.

Today and tomorrow are an amusing mix of traditions, one of fear and superstition and the other of love. Friday the 13th will end and Valentine's Day will begin. And during that transfer--that equinox between fear and love, if you will--lovers will embrace while murder takes place and both climaxes will intertwine.

Ah, I feel a poem coming ...

Today is the day,
A day you might say,
For a heart and a rose,
A knife and a smile,
With you and a lover,
Or another.

Now doesn't everyone feel better? I wish I could see all of your smiling faces behind your monitors' bluish glow.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

First Post

A first post ... what pressure. Well then, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, let me introduce myself. The name's Robert Gray. As in The Author Robert Gray! Haven't heard of me? Really? You can't find me in a search engine either? Right then... I'll let you know everything there is to know about me. I write horror and fantasy fiction. Impressed? No? Figures.
Currently I'm working on a YA dark fantasy series called Sowen. And you, dear reader, are probably asking why title a series with such a stupid name as Sowen (pronounced Sow, like cow and en like in). Maybe I just won't tell you if that's the type of attitudes you're going to have...
OK, I'll tell. Sowen is the last name of the main character. Christopher Sowen. A young 15-year-old who discovers, gasp, that he has the power to summon dead spirits from another world, a dead world, if you please. Sound creepy? What do you mean you don't get it? Yes, I was just getting to that. Our young hero lost his mother one year ago in a terrible car accident. Tragic really. And since then, Chris has been fascinated with ghost hunting. He has this silly notion that he can find his Mom's ghost. How sad. Poor kid's probably delusional. But he finds something, a link perhaps to his mother, or maybe it's just the supreme ruler of the dead. Ha! Didn't think of that one did you?
I bet you all want to know where you can find such a gem of a book. How the heavens have not opened up and presented this piece of literary genius to you on a silver platter. Well, friends, that's what this blog is all about. The story is not done yet. So I'm here to take that journey together with anyone who wants to listen to me babble like a friggin' lunatic. Oh, and I might make a bit of social commentary, too. It seems that's a requirement of a blogger.

If you want to learn even more about me, you can visit me on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325809556&ref=name
And if you would like to know when I relieve myself or eat lunch you can tweet me at http://twitter.com/RGrayFiction

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