So here's what I should be doing: I should be in New Hampshire right now with my wife and daughter. I should be getting ready for a lovely day of sightseeing and the usual touristy whatnot that goes along with westcoasters visiting New England in the fall. (yeah, leaf watching.)
But here's what I'm actually doing: I'm huddled on my living room couch, my comfy blue blanket around my shoulders, a small stack of books on the coffee table along with the tv remotes. I've got Oldboy on, and I'm planning on watching the entire Vengeance trilogy through out the day.
I'm also hacking my lungs out.
I also have a low grade, but diminishing fever.
I also have a constant, throbbing body ache which makes normal activities, such as typing, kind of physically taxing.
I have walking pneumonia and this is how I'm spending my first vacation in nearly a year-and-a-half.
I sent the girls out east, because I didn't want my little illness to shit in everyone's punch bowl, and I'm spending my now abundant free time catching up on my "just for fun" reading.
And I'm blogging.
But I'm just not blogging about my pal walking pneumonia, I'm blogging about books, specifically an anthology project my pals Jimmy Callaway and Matt Funk are involved in called Uncle B's Drive-In Fiction.
Here's the skinny on the anthology:
"Six low-budget novellas by Jimmy Callaway, Alec Cizak, C. J. Edwards, Garnett Elliott, Matthew C. Funk, and David James Keaton. Featuring cover and interior art by Sarah Hailey. Edited by Elisha Murphy.
Remember rolling into the drive-in, elbow out the window, hand squeezing the wheel of your dad's Ford, hoping to find a spot in the back row of cars? Remember watching some B horror, cheapjack action or western flick, trying like mad to get to second base? Edited by Elisha Murphy, six pulp writers join forces in Drive-In Fiction to conjure up those dark, sweat-laced back seats lit only by the glow of the big screen. Within these pages are six down and dirty novellas all written in the spirit of those films from the golden age of the drive-in. Inside you will find:
The Shunned Highway by Garnett Elliott
When a group of unwitting bikers, the Crusty Losers, pick the wrong gothic mansion to throw a party in, they release a highly contagious alien fungus. What follows is a leather-clad hellride through 70's America, with rogue CDC agents in hot pursuit. Who will survive the fiery showdown in post-hippy San Francisco? Read The Shunned Highway and find out.
A Woman And A Knife by Matthew C. Funk
A ruthless killer stalks Jenny Childs across the wretched territory of central Ohio, and a haunted cop races against a failing mind to save her. But young Jenny holds a twisted secret that could doom the men on her trail.
SUCK by C. J. Edwards
Indianapolis PD Rookie Homicide Detective Rae Simmons has been assigned a case nobody else wants, the torture and murder of a young prostitute named Cherry. What she doesn't know is that someone else is hunting the killers too. With her victim's body missing, gang bangers turning up dead, and a Catholic Priest telling her a demonic force is out for blood, Simmons must track the killers and face down dark powers beyond her comprehension.
Lupo Danish Never Has Nightmares by Jimmy Callaway
Organized crime produces few heroes. Lupo Danish is not one of them. But in this case, he'll just have to do. He often sleeps, but Lupo Danish never has nightmares.
National Trust by Alec Cizak
Tommy Doyle has his hands full navigating the minefield of his surrogate family of small time Irish-American gangsters. Set during the Watergate scandal, Tommy gears up for a final bank heist to settle some scores. "Who the hell dresses up as Nixon for Halloween?" he asks. Exactly.
Tap Tap Tap (Snap Snap Snap) by David James Keaton
A porn director in the twilight of his career becomes increasingly delusional as he begins to notice sexually transmitted tattoos infecting his "talent." Even his imagined relationship with the Virgin Mary statue down the street can't stop an inevitable showdown between him and the wannabe stuntman he accidentally spit on and his plot to either kidnap a police dog, detonate the local drive-in where the latest porn epic will debut, or detonate a police dog, whichever comes first."
Sounds pretty awesome, right?
The biggest issue with selling books in this day and age is with so many of them coming out week-after-week is it's pretty tough to gain attention for your book. So what the always luscious Jimmy Callaway is doing to help gain some attention for Uncle B's is he offered to buy a comic book of the readers choice if they buy and review Uncle B'sDrive-in Fiction.
Well, I've decided to up the ante and make this offer: If you buy and review Uncle B's, Jimmy will still buy you a comic of your choice, but I'll also send you a copy of Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels. I'd appreciate it if you reviewed Both Barrels, too, if you're so inclined.
But wait, there's more....
If you're not into writing a review, but are still down with getting some free stuff, if you simply buy a copy of Uncle B's Drive-in Fiction and send a proof of purchase to Callaway or myself (BTW, gang, the proof of purchase has to be from after today.) I will send you a copy of one of the following novels:
Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko (Great novel, particularly if you're into Bukowski or Dan Fante.)
Shatter by Michael Robotham
Cliffwalk by Bruce DeSilva
and last but not least,
Big Maria by Johnny Shaw
That's a lot of good writing there, folks, particularly Big Maria, which I'm now in my second reading of. Mind you, with these books, Jimmy's not going to buy you a funny book and all that's required is a proof of purchase, but once again, honest, responsible reviews are always welcomed. If you're up for it, you can e-mail me your proof of purchase yo rawsonkeith(at)gmail dot com or you can contact Jimmy Callaway right HERE
Okay, one last thing before I let you go.
As most of you know, I'm a hired geek over at LitReactor, but on top of being a kick ass online lit mag and community, it's also an educational website where writing intensives have been taught by the likes of Christa Faust, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger, David Corbet, and Jack Ketchum, just to name a few.
Well recently, Johnny Shaw, (Dove Season, Big Maria, and editor of Blood & Tacos) joined the ranks of LitReactor's instructors. Here's the dope on Shaw's first class:
Writing is rewriting.
People say it all the time, and it's true. Your first draft, it's like a big block of stone. Huge and unwieldy, but full of hidden possibility. The true art of the process comes from chipping away at the stone--the extraneous sentences, the non-essential characters, the navel-gazing tangents--and finding the story.
Your story is the sculpture inside the rock.
And we've recruited Johnny Shaw to help you find it. He has an MFA in screenwriting and has lectured at Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara. He's the author of two highly-praised novels. One of which, Dove Season, was lauded by In the Woods author Tana French for "a smart, fluent rhythm and crackle that pull you forward, and it’s full of sharply observed and often very funny details. The author is excellent at creating a sense of place with a few deft strokes..."
Shaw knows how to edit his work down to a fine point--to find that sculpture inside the block of stone--and he'll show you how to do it too, in this four-week course that focuses on the skills necessary for a successful edit.
WHAT THIS CLASS COVERS
Week 1: Writing is Rewriting
- Don’t change sentences in chapters you will eventually cut
- Expanding and exploring themes to their fullest potential
- Integrate the parts of your story to make a cohesive whole
- Pacing & clarity
Week 2: The Craft of Story Structure
- Know the rules before you break them
- Traditional dramatic three-act structure
- Aristotle. That’s right, I said it. Aristotle
- Seeing the story from a distance; how the parts make a whole
- Structure as a tool for the pacing and momentum of your story
Week 3: The Scene is the Thing
- Three minutes is a long scene (and whatever the equivalent is in a novel)
- Finding the conflict and focusing in on it
- The writer’s objective vs. the characters’ objectives
- The function of the scene as it ties to the whole and the theme
Week 4: Character and Dialogue
- People doing stuff, not characters in scenes
- To be original, make the characters act like real people
- Don’t get cute with the dialogue
- Read it out loud. Have someone read it to you
- Good dialogue illuminates what that characters aren’t saying
- It can always be faster, it can always be funnier (even if it’s dramatic)
GOALS OF THE CLASS
- A clear and concise knowledge of traditional three-act story structure, and the ability to create and use that structure to go beyond that tradition.
- Essential tools for scene construction and pacing, that help to imbue each moment in a scene with conflict and momentum, using clear objectives.
- Keys to developing characters and writing dialogue that illuminate what the characters aren’t saying, as well as what they are.
- Finding the thematic strengths of one’s story and getting the most from the themes and getting to the heart of the most important question you face as a writer: Why the story exists.
Anyway, time for a nap. Good night, y'all.