Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Apoca-Lynn: A Cover Story

I'm really quite pleased with how Apoca-Lynn's cover turned out. A lot of elements went into its creation, comprising the work of three very talented pros.

Pro # 1: Sarah Water Raven, author of Detective Docherty and the Demon's Tears and the upcoming Detective Docherty and the Vampire's Mirror, and the brilliant artist who did the cover for The Five Demons You Meet In Hell.

Sarah came up with the cover concept, and suggested using a model to represent Lynn. Which brings us neatly to...

Pro # 2: Rebecca Lovatt, book reviewer for Arched Doorway, expert baker of cupcakes, and all-around force for evil and terror. She posed for several photographs, taken by Sarah Water Raven at Ad Astra 2014, and agreed to be the face of Lynn for me. With Rebecca's fear-inducing visage (she's really quite lovely, except when she wants to make you crap your pants!) captured, it looked like Apoca-Lynn was in business.

Only it wasn't. Not yet. I wanted Sarah to complete the cover, but she had to bow out for personal and professional reasons (but not creative differences, I'd like to make that clear). I understood and respected Sarah's need to bow out, but I was then faced with the perilous problem of who was going to do my cover for me? As I was agonizing over this conundrum, I took a trip to Ottawa for Can-Con 2014. There I met Su J. Sokol, author of the amazingly brilliant Cycling to Asylum. It was also where I met her cover artist, who became...

Pro # 3: Lin-Lin Mao, exceptional artist and maker of origami bookmarks. I bought one. It's pretty cool. Here's a picture of me holding it:

Lin-Lin took the photo of Rebecca and the basic concept for the cover and created an image I was beyond ecstatic with.

So that's the story of Apoca-Lynn's cover. I am truly blessed to know such a talented group of people, and proud to call them my friends.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Apoca-Lynn: Genysys

My 2nd attempt at self-publishing success is a tale of love gone terribly, terribly wrong. I originally wanted to release this story on Valentine’s Day to take advantage of the dramatic irony, but April Fool’s Day will have to do.

Brief synopsis:
Bill O'Lannerman didn't know what he was getting into when he started dating a psychic named Lynn Woodslink. Childish, self-centred and kinda nuts, Lynn can read his every thought and move solid objects with her mind. When he broke up with her, she used those powers to put him in a world of pain. Aided by a club of spellcasting gamers, Bill struggles to survive the fury of his girlfriend scorned.

I had the inspiration for this story after watching a turkey turd of a movie called My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson, it was about a guy who dates and then breaks up with a superhero named G-Girl. She uses her powers to take revenge on him, smashing his house, boiling his fish, putting his car into orbit, etc... until he finally apologizes for hurting her feelings. It rubbed me the wrong way - why was he apologizing to her?!?

Sure, it was just a movie, and a comedy to boot (just not a funny one). But it got to me, especially when I read some of the women-written reviews. They seemed to think it was a good thing when Uma’s character repeatedly smashed through the roof of his house. And when she threw a live great white shark at him? You go girl! If only all women everywhere could throw sharks at their exes. Wouldn’t that be great?!?

I didn’t think so, for personal reasons. I once asked a woman out to the movies, on what I assumed was a date. She emailed me back to inquire about showtimes, then added, “but don’t get your hopes up, because I already have a boyfriend!” I was upset - I’d thought I’d been pretty clear I was asking her out, and I thought the “don’t get your hopes up” bit was rather arrogant. I didn’t respond, and two days later I got another email from her. My lack of response had pissed her off, and she let me know it in colourful detail before signing off with “I guess all men really do want just one thing!”

Now I was pissed. I called a mutual friend to bitch about it, and he told me everything would be okay once I apologized to her.
Wait, what? She insulted me, I pointed out, and I have to say sorry to her?!? Yeah, my friend told me. You didn’t respond to her email, and that hurt her feelings.

So when I saw a movie in which a guy had to apologize to the woman who’d thrown a shark at him because he’d hurt her feelings? Yeah, it struck a nerve. I wanted to create a story similar to Super-Ex - a guy breaks up with a girl with superpowers, and she punishes him with those powers - but I wanted to tell it my way. And hopefully made a point or two about the way pop culture views male-female relationships. Apoca-Lynn is the result.

Yes, I’m aware that, oppression-wise, women have been given the short end of the proverbial stick for centuries. Yes, I know the media often portrays women and girls as sex objects with unrealistically thin bodies. I am a feminist, and view sexism as an evil that society should have grown out of by now.

But that doesn’t mean I should have to apologize to someone who hurt/insulted me. I think that holds true for all genders.

Of course, just because it touches upon some serious issues, don’t go thinking that Apoca-Lynn is some deep, message-laden manifesto! There are jokes aplenty, more per square inch of page than Evil & The Cupid War. It’s my favourite genre - far-fetched YA - and I’m in my element. It’s also a 1st person POV, a choice that was easy to make for this story. As with Evil?, it just fits.

I have high hopes for Apoca-Lynn. I’ve already started writing a sequel, Armagge-Dawn. If all goes well, I’ll have that one done and up on Smashwords in a year, maybe a year and a half. For now, enjoy this first Bill O’Lannerman tall tale. Here's the link for pre-sales - may it fill you with mirth. Unless of course you don’t find that sort of thing funny. That would be unfortunate, but don’t expect an apology.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day-to-Day Depression

I love the way people assume that when I’m not writing, I’m doing editing or promoting or some other author-centred bit of business. They’d probably have a lot less respect for me if they knew how much time I devote to Candy Crush.

After all, writing is a Serious Business, and if one isn’t Dedicated to Working Hard, then one isn’t a Real Writer at all, and just a Waste of More Important Writers’ Time. While that last sentence is bursting at the seams with bullshit, I’ve met many an author/editor (or person who thinks they are an author or editor) who holds that opinion. What I take away from that is that my writing ‘street cred’ isn’t as high as it should be.

I suffer from a combination of depression, anxiety, and general laziness, and I’m never sure which one has the most influence. I know what Serious Writers would say, and I’m unable to prove them wrong. If it was just laziness, however, I could get over it and get on with things.

A typical day in the life of Tim happens something like this – get up, feed the cats, go to work, come home, Candy Crush and bed. Somewhere in there, I write. Most of my best writing comes during the half-hour before work, which these days is a temp job that barely pays almost what I need to survive. During the work day, I’ll look forward to all the writing-related stuff I can get to when I’m home. When I get home, however, my energy and motivation are gone.

Well, I must get so much done during those long employment gaps between temp jobs, right? If only. I’ll get up, feed the cats, go back to bed, sleep in, get up again for food, feed the cats again, think about doing something useful with my time, take a nap, try and get myself out of the condo to do some writing, come back, do something about supper, Candy Crush, bed. It takes an herculean amount of will to get me onto my computer to do some actual work. Or, you know, look for a job.

I don’t like talking about this side of me, because what are people likely to say? If I want things to get better, I should do something about it! Stop the pity party and pull myself up by my bootstraps, because success won’t just happen. Stop feeling sorry for myself, and using my mental health as an excuse not to succeed. If I point out they wouldn’t say the same thing to someone living with cancer, I’ll get: “Are you really comparing your mental health to cancer?”

Yeah, I do use my mood disorder as an excuse. Doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I don’t know where my depression ends and my laziness begins, so when I’m accused of not putting the effort in my critics are never entirely wrong. Trouble is, getting on with things is extremely hard, and getting harder every day.

I could have had Apoca-Lynn out months ago. Same for Closets. I could be having great success with my other projects, if I could only get to them. I want to get my work back out there, into the hands of agents and publishers. I want to have a solid marketing campaign on several social media platforms. All I can manage, though, is what I’m currently doing.

Sometimes, I beat the laziness. I send out some resumes, I fix a problem in a manuscript, I do something that matters. It’s never enough. Not if I want to succeed as an author.

I do what I can. And feel badly about what I don’t. I’m sick, and I am lazy. But I wasn’t always this lazy.

The world doesn’t care about mental illness, only about results. You won’t succeed at writing by playing Candy Crush, Tim! Stop making excuses and work! What do you think you are, a cancer patient?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Do People Not Blow Their Noses Anymore?!?

Seriously. Everywhere I go I’m surrounded by sniffers and snorters who seem perfectly happy to make revolting sounds instead of reaching for a tissue. Maybe they don’t have tissues, but come on; winter comes every year, people. Be prepared!

Others obviously don’t find mucal retention as uncomfortable as I do. It doesn’t bother them, so they snort away with carefree abandon. Guess what, asswipes? That sound is disgusting and annoying! What is so special about your mucus that you feel you have to keep hanging on to it?
I was in the mailroom with a co-worker one time, waiting for the mail to come in. The co-worker had a runny nose, and he sniffed every ten seconds.




I couldn’t stand it anymore – I handed him a napkin. He said thanks, wiped his mouth with it and went right on sniffing! I guess he thought he had some pudding on his face or something. Blowing his nose clearly hadn’t even occurred to him.

Two more co-workers came in and sat down. And they started sniffing! I had to get up and leave. Too much mucus for me!

Another time I was on the subway. A woman was snuffling away. I gave her a napkin, she thanked me and wiped her nose, and kept on sniffing! So I gave her another napkin. She thanked me once more, wiped her nose, and continued with the sniffing!

W. T. Fuck?

I’ve also had people give me a polite “no thanks” when I offer a napkin, even though they clearly need it. What’s that all about?
I’m coming down from a cold, and let me tell you – I am so grateful to have napkins and/or tissues on hand. I hate it when my nose runs, and find it very uncomfortable to not be able to blow my nose. Am I really so different from everyone else in this regard?

Oh. Em. Gee. Right now, in the room where I am writing, there’s a woman sniffing away!

What is wrong with all of you? Blow your fucking noses!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

First Update of 2015 - All 3 Parts

So, this is my third attempt at an update in as many months. Previous attempts are posted below.

Here’s what I thought in January:

I’m typing up the last few chapters of I, Suicide. Feeling very good about that one. I wasn’t before, and I do have concerns with how it will be received. Now, I think it is very unique, and very different from all my other novels.

Kudos to me!

I’ve also started to work on a sequel to Apoca-Lynn. It’s early days, but I think I’m off to a good start. Apoca-Lynn itself is down to the final editing stage – I’m putting in a few more details to make the town more of a place. That way it’ll be recognizable in the sequels.

I need to get started on promotion. I want Valentine’s Day to be Apoca-Lynn’s release date, so I need a Facebook page and flyers and stuff. I wish this kind of thing came easy for me.

And here’s February:

Not as much progress as I’d like. I’d hoped to set up a Facebook page for Apoca-Lynn, and maybe do a Cover Reveal event. Sadly, my depression has delayed all that, and the editing process, too. I’m still trying to get the book ready, but there’s a long way to go and I have very little motivation.

I’m not even sure which online publisher to go with. Smashwords is nice, but I haven’t been able to draw much of a readership from them. Amazon KDP or Kobo are the choices I’m looking at now. Time is running out; motivation or no, I need to get moving on this one.

If only getting moving were easy. People in my life always reacted with annoyance, frustration and/or ridicule when I didn’t immediately get cracking on things in the past, whether just for myself or for them. Now that I (and most of them) know I have a mood disorder, things really haven’t changed much. Instead of seeing me as a lazy procrastinating slob, I’m a lazy procrastinating slob feeling sorry for himself and using his depression as an excuse.

Sometimes it is an excuse. Most times it’s a valid reason. Try explaining that to Life. You still need to feed and clothe yourself, no matter how sick you are inside.

And now we are in March. Apoca-Lynn is not out yet, but I do have a Facebook page for it. Maybe one day I’ll post something to it.

My current temp job has come to an end. Good while it lasted. We were just able to get by. Here’s hoping I find something else soon.

I have no idea what’s happening with the Evil movie. I’ve sold the film rights option, and that is all. If they do decide to go ahead and buy the film rights proper, I will make a very excited announcement.

Currently, I am up to Chapter 6 on Armaged-Dawn, my sequel to Apoca-Lynn. On the horizon are the continuation of Zombie Jesus Day, and more Doctor Who fanfiction. I have plans to make a separate blog for Section K stories, but that’s gone no further than the proverbial drawing board. I have a lot of stories to post, all of which require substantial editing. Honestly, no one is asking for Section K stuff. I don’t know why I’m bothering.

I could say that about a lot of things: my fan-fiction; my writing in general; certainly my attempts to get a better job. And yet, I keep going. Stubborn, I guess.