Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rock N'Shock

On Saturday I went to the Rock and Shock Horror Festival (www.rockandshock.com) in Worcester, MA. It's a mostly film-related convention, but I'm a fan of old classic horror flicks, so that's fine with me.

I hung around the table of the Horror Writers Association, New England Chapter, which had a very good showing. I know I'll forget someone, but I remember seeing Paul Tremblay, LL Soares, Laura Cooney, Jack Haringa, Dan Robichaud, Corrine de Winter, and a guy who was talking to me about a book signing that the HWA/NE had done at Tatnuck a long time ago. (Sorry, I forgot your name!) I heard that Stan Wiater was there earlier, but I missed him. Dan's wife, Trista, who has recently had a fantasy short story published, was absent; some excuse about celebrating a birthday... (Happy Birthday, Trista!)

Laura bought a pair of vampire fangs from VampFangs.com. I was tempted to buy their Scarecrow Classic Fangs, but I kept thinking of what a hard time I have talking with my retainer in, and changed my mind. I know they're supposed to be light, well-fitting and easy to use, but I just couldn't convince myself. What an advance in technology since the days of Dark Shadows. I read that Jonathan Frid, who played Barnabas Collins, had a really hard time talking with his fangs in and found them very uncomfortable -- and I'm sure that they were very expensive. Speaking of Jonathan Frid, he's got his own web site these days. Hard to believe that he's an octogenerian. Back to fangs: I did get one of the free tee shirts that VampFangs were handing out, so if I change my mind, at least I have the web site address. Maybe next year, for Halloween.

Let's see, who else was there? Screenwriter Rogan Marshall stopped by and then joined us for the HWA social dinner after.

Another person who joined us for dinner was writer Jack Ketchum, who had his own booth. I didn't even realize that he was at the event until I went to see what the vendors were selling.

The movie of Jack's book, The Lost, had been shown earlier in the day, and he was pretty excited -- as well he should be. The Lost is the first novel of Jack's on film. Featured in the cast are Ed Lauter, Micheal Bowen, Dee Wallace Stone, and Jack Ketchum himself, playing a bartender. Check out the movie web site for more info. (By the way, there's a great interview of Jack by Monica O'Rourke at the Feoamante site. My preference is supernatural horror, which is not what Jack or Monica write, but they're still great writers and good people, so if you like other types of horror, check them out. Personally, I'm too chicken! Seriously, though, I have read some of their writing and have heard raves from those who have read much more.

With Jack was another screen writer, whose name I didn't catch. Lately I've been really, really bad about remembering someone's name the first time I meet them. What am I saying, FIRST time? Sometimes I can't remember the name the SECOND or THIRD time! And I was sitting next to this guy at dinner. Well, whoever he is, he's working on a project with Jack, and was interesting to listen to.

It's getting late and I've got to get up for the day job tomorrow, so I'll end here and amend or correct as needed some other time.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What I've Just Finished Reading: How to Write Killer Fiction

Well, I finally finished How to Write Killer Fiction by Carolyn Wheat. It's not because it's a slow read -- it isn't -- but because of the way life is. My reading time gets interrupted, or I get really tired and fall asleep after reading only a couple of sentences, or some other reading material suddenly takes precedence.

In this case, I held off because what I was reading was something I wanted to be awake for, and something that I thought would keep me awake. I had started a new job over the summer, one with earlier hours than I was used to recently, and I was afraid that if I read something very engaging, it would keep me up as I stopped to jot down notes or started to plan how I'd use it in my novel.

This book is geared toward the mystery writer, but since my novels have an element of suspense and since I drop clues like in a mystery novel, I thought it'd be appropriate. I was right. Don't be put off if you're not a mystery writer. This is still a good resource for the horror or suspense writer.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What I've Just Finished Reading: The First Five Pages

I just finished reading The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, which I'd highly recommend to those brand-new writers who finish their first draft and say, "Okay, I'm done," having never read a book on how to get published nor taken any classes on the same. It's an eye-opener.

For everyone else, I'd still recommend it. It's short, concise, and well-written and drives home the point that editors and editorial assistants, by the very nature of their hectic schedules, look first to weed out the rejects, and describes what they look for first.

It includes many samples of what not to do (for example, snippets of horrible dialog), and sometimes there are sections on how to fix the problems. The exercises at the end of the chapter are excellent exercises in good writing, but I must admit that I didn't do any of them. For one thing, I read most of the book on a plane and didn't have my manuscript with me. For another, I'm at the wrapping-up phase of my second novel and I just don't have the time to rewrite at that depth. For me, a simple checklist would have been more beneficial.

Overall, though, it's a very good book and I'd certainly read others by the same author.