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Posts tagged “Writing

Show Me Your Shelves: Scott Cole

I met Scott Cole online a few years ago and then had a chance to hang out with him at BizarroCon. He likes talking books and movies, so we got along splendidly. He’s an easy guy to get along with and one someone whose passion for weird films, horror, comics, and bizarro are hard to ignore. Needless to say, I was stoked when he become a fellow NBASer. Now, besides his bizarro chops, we get to check out the stuff he’s filled his shelves with. Dig it.

GI: Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

SC: I am Scott Cole – master illusionist, renowned chef, military strategist, humble philanthropist, and author of SuperGhost.

Books are big for me. I’m always reading something. They’re one of the few things I spend money on, beyond food-and-shelter-type necessities. I worked in an indie bookstore once upon a time, and was able to buy books at the store’s cost. That was a hungry year.

I’ve probably got enough books in my house to use as bricks to build another house. Maybe I’ll do that someday, just so I have somewhere nice and quiet to sit and read the ones I haven’t gotten to yet.

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GI: You read horror, bizarro, and other genres. Give us your top ten for the last two years. Then, tell us about a book you loved that no one would’ve guessed you dug.

SC: I’m constantly behind when it comes to new stuff, and I’m always going back to read things I missed, or just recently discovered (for example, I’ve been reading a lot of 1930s “Weird Menace” stories the last several years). There’s just so much out there, and so many new books coming out all the time, it’s impossible to keep up. But I’m trying. So let’s say Top Ten Things I’ve Read in the Last Two Years (Or So), Which May Have Been Released in the Last Five or Six, Although I’ll Try to Keep it as Current as Possible. In no particular order:

I Am The New God by Nicole Cushing
The Atrocity Vendor by Nick Cato
Never Bet the Devil by Orrin Grey
Light Boxes by Shane Jones
Misery and Death and Everything Depressing by C.V. Hunt
Fantastic Orgy by Carlton Mellick III
We Live Inside You by Jeremy Robert Johnson
King of the Perverts by Steve Lowe
Clown Tear Junkies by Douglas Hackle
In the Fishbowl, We Bleed by Jeremy C. Shipp

People will look at this list and say “But what about _______?” And I’ll just have to say “It’s in my TBR pile. I’m getting to it. I swear.”

As for a book I loved that no one would guess? Hmmm. Would people be surprised to know I enjoy the hell out of some Dashiell Hammett? Or that I have a big collection of reference books on graphic design? Or that I generally don’t like superhero comics, but do have a couple dozen Batman collections? I have no idea.

How ’bout I change this question around too, and instead give you a movie that no one can seem to believe I hated. Easy. Cabin in the Woods. I saw a preview screening before the hype started, and I…disliked it. Actually, I could rant against it for hours, but maybe I’ll save that for an essay.

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GI: Finish these sentences:

SC: Adam Cesare is: actually just a family of turtles living inside a canvas bag stitched to look like a human.

Philadelphia is: probably nicer than it gets credit for, and definitely far, far weirder than it’s known for.

Writing bizarro is: about the most fun one can have telling lies without getting into (too much) trouble.

My favorite sandwich is: the vegan cheesesteak at Blackbird in Philly. Seriously amazing, whether you eat meat or not.

You have to read Junji Ito because: he’s one of the most important voices in modern horror.

Your momma is so fat: making fun of her is only making things worse.

GI: Got any ghost stories from real life? What/who/where would you haunt if you were a ghost and why?

SC: When I was a kid, we would visit my grandparents’ house on Cape Cod a couple times a year. The stairs going up to the second floor were hidden behind a door in the living room. One day, while my parents and grandparents were outside, I was inside watching a Creature Double Feature, and that door suddenly popped open. I jumped up, ran to it, and saw some sort of dark shape at the top of the stairs. I closed that door real fast.

Now, the door opening could’ve had something to do with the house settling, and the shape I saw may have been conjured up by my monster-movie-obsessed mind, but I’m not going to say that’s what it was for sure. Who knows.

If I was a ghost, I’d probably just hang out in graveyards and spooky old houses and pretend I was “living” in an old movie.

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5. What’s your NBAS book about and why should we all run and buy it?

SuperGhost is the story of a mad scientist who steals phantom limbs from amputees, and uses them to build a giant ghost-monster. The amputees, of course, then have to band together to defeat the SuperGhost, save the city, and take back what’s rightfully theirs. Oh, and there’s ice cream!

I sometimes describe it as being like Frankenstein meets Ghostbusters meets Godzilla. It’s probably the weirdest kaiju story around, at least for the next day or two.

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Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth (Eraserhead Press), Hungry Darkness (Severed Press), and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias


Stop whining and write that review already: A guide to painless book reviewing

By Gabino Iglesias

So you read and book and now you want to review it. You’ve read plenty of reviews, but somehow doing one seems like a daunting task. Or maybe you’ve done a few but wonder if there’s a better way to get it done. Well, I write a few reviews every week, so it’s gotten to the point where I don’t freak out about it. Below I’ll share some of my hard-earned knowledge with you. Hopefully that’ll make life easier. After all, remember that every review you write is a little help you’re giving the indie lit community. Anyway, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Know why you’re reviewing a book.

You can recommend or bash Wuthering Heights all you want, but I don’t think Emily Bronte’s corpse gives a shit. Likewise, folks like James Patterson, J.K. Rowling, and Stephen King don’t need your help to sell a few copies this month. If you’re going to spend time writing a review, do it for a book from a small press that you really enjoyed. Believe it or not, some folks buy their next read based on reviews. Also, those reviews you leave on Amazon apparently have an effect on the magical algorithms, which means authors benefit from them.

2. If possible, keep it positive.

There are too many haters, trolls, and assholes in the world already: don’t be one. If you hate Dan Brown, do what I do: don’t spend time reading his work or writing about it. Reviews should be a way of supporting authors you like. If you happen to write for places that send you books, you’re screwed. I’ve written my share of negative and lukewarm reviews, but they’re never personal attacks. However, if you read whatever you want and then write about it, you don’t have to say anything about the ones you dislike. That leads to another important point. If a writer offers you a review copy, review the damn book. If you don’t have great things to say about it, just write your thoughts down with honesty as your goal and call it day, but don’t leave authors hanging. There are too many idiots out there getting free books and then selling them or not coming through with a review after they asked an author for a free copy of their work. They deserve to be killed via a thousand paper cuts.

3. A simple structure will suffice.

I love unique reviews and try to write one when a book calls for it, but you don’t have to give yourself a headache trying to reinvent them. If you’re working on a review for a site or magazine, try to have a relevant intro, give a synopsis of the book (in your own words, please don’t copy stuff from the back of the book), and then have a couple of paragraphs telling readers why you liked the book, what elements worked for you, etc. Discuss elements that matter: pacing, character development, and structure. If you want to use a quote, go ahead, but keep it short and sweet. If you received an ARC, be careful and ask before quoting. The number of paragraphs is up to you, but make sure that you gave readers a reason to spend their moolah on a book. “This book is awesome!” is not an effective review. If your review will only go on Amazon or Goodreads and you want to keep it simple, come up with a few lines that highlight some of the book’s qualities.

4. Write about the book you read, not the one you wish you had read.

Carlton Mellick is one of my favorite bizarro writers, but he sucks at writing cheesy sparkling vampire trilogies. When you read noir, don’t bitch about the lack of a happy ending. When you read extreme horror, don’t tell me it was a bit too much and you wished there was less gore and more witty dialogue. Know your genres and review books accordingly.

5. Don’t be afraid to be smart.

Anyone who thinks genres like horror, noir, and bizarro are less intelligent than literary fiction and 500-page novels that could bore Dostoyevsky to death can kiss my literate ass. If you’re reading Cody Goodfellow, D. Harlan Wilson, or Molly Tanzer, you know weird literature can be as brilliant as anything else out there, and infinitely more entertaining. Don’t be afraid to get creative or apply a little smart criticism to your review. The indie lit scene is brimming with brilliant people who won’t frown when they find a little deconstruction here and there.

6. Be honest. No, really, don’t lie to people.

Some books are outstanding, but saying a book is the best thing you’ve ever read only tells me you need to read more. Don’t tell readers a book will change their life forever. You don’t know that. They might actually hate the book. Maybe they really hate it and they were looking for a life-changing book that would give them a reason to keep on living and now they feel betrayed and want to kill you. It could happen. Anyway, refrain from using clichéd terms like tour-de-force, absolutely “unputdownable,” or mind-blowing. Don’t tell me an author is the best thing to happen to literature since Shakespeare. First, there’s no way you’ve read everything that’s been published in the world since 1616. Second, some of us don’t enjoy Shakespeare that much. Last but not least, keep in mind that, just like there will never be a new Michael Jordan, there will never be another Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, Flannery O’Connor, or whoever your favorite author happens to be.

7. You are a subjective beast.

I like what I like and you like what you like. You know what? That’s fine! I don’t read paranormal romance or self-help books. Maybe you do. Hell, we live in a world where the music industry is a depressing joke and millions of people consider Dane Cook funny and care about reality television. The point is that folks have different tastes, but you should only pay attention to yours. Write whatever you want and forget about molding your review a certain way (you know, unless you’re writing for a publication that imposes their style on you).

8. Just write the damn thing.

You won’t finish a review if you never start it. If you don’t know where to begin, simply start writing a synopsis or jutting down your thoughts on the books. Write about what you felt as you read. Tell readers about the stuff that made you laugh, cry, or cringe. Tell them anything about the book, but tell it to them in your voice. Now sit down and get the damn thing done already!

If you need some examples, here are links to some recent reviews:

Steve Lowe’s You Are Sloth! at ManArchy

Nick Antosca’s The Girlfriend Game at Word Riot

Mark SaFranko’s Lounge Lizard at Verbicide

Ross E. Lockhart’s Chick Bassist at Verbicide

Andersen Prunty’s The Warm Glow of Happy Homes at Verbicide

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias


Bizarro Anthology Open for Submissions

bizarro bizarroBizarro Bizarro: An Anthology is opening submissions today! Send in your best bizarro fiction with 3500-7000 words. Deadline is October 1st.

Edited by Rocky Alexander and published by Bizarro Pulp Press. Cover art is by Alan M. Clark.

For more details about submissions and where to send them, click here.


Twisted Tuesdays: Animated Gif Apocalypse Rorschach Test

by Tracy Vanity

I’m really glad I don’t know how to make animated gifs because I spend enough hours a day dicking around on the internet. Thankfully there are people out there who have dedicated their time to the art of animated-gif-creating so I don’t have to bother learning and can just repost their shit.

Since this is the 1st Twisted Tuesday of the year I wanted to do something other than post twisted videos. Believe me, I have like ten years worth of fucked up youtube vids to post. And there will be plenty of time for that…

For this post, I want to get reader/lurker involvement. One or more of these various moving images should inspire your fingers to fly across the keyboard in response, be it a simple “wtf IS that?” to an anecdote about your life, to a made-up story that just slapped your ass. Anything. Whatever your reaction is, post it! You can even do it anonymously if you’re shy.

So I’m going to post 13 animated gifs with an accompanying Roman numeral so that you may reference it in your response if you so choose.

Just like you, I don’t know the origin of most of the shit I come across and just add my own interpretation. That’s really what the internet is here for: fuck context, it’s all about your reaction…an internet Rorschach test if you will. Just post your immediate reaction to anything you see.

Now on to the Animated Gif Apocalypse!

I. reaction gif

II. jesus_raptor

III. circle

IV. shake

V. creepy bear infinity

VI. silent hill

VII. japan cuddle

VIII. tumblr_mfx7jfOSN81qgleipo1_500

IX. plug me in

X. scream

XI. tumblr_mft710lDvS1qgleipo1_500

XII. tumblr_mfsf4x4ek51qgleipo1_400

XIII. headless pianist


Dilation Exercise 50

Did anyone see the eclipse yesterday?

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Outshone by the Sun for so long and finally given a chance to prove itself with a full solar eclipse in the largest venue imaginable, the Moon’s pride demanded unprecedented hype for the production.

Because the promoters failed to hire a weather service, however, few were able to see the event through the cloud cover, and the Moon’s embarrassment was unendurable throughout the hours-long procession to exit the stage.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Too Early the Moon” copyright © 2008 Alan M. Clark.
Unpublished.


Dilation Exercise 48

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

After an all-nighter banging away to break a month-long block on his novel, Alister was exhausted and fell asleep, whereupon the elusive solutions he sought presented themselves in dreams.

As he struggled to awaken, to get them down on paper and shackle them with copyright, the spontaneous, ephemeral, and independent ideas fled.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Of Course He Hadn’t an Inkling” copyright © 2007 Alan M. Clark.
Front page and sub-pages for shortshortshort.com, a web site devoted to the fiction of Bruce Holland Rogers.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 47

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Considering the father, his eldritch power and horrible appetites, Allison vacillated between wanting to cut the baby out of her womb and doing all in her power to warn the world of its coming.

Still, she’d always wanted a child, and if she provided enough love, perhaps it might grow up to become the benevolent dictator the world needed.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Something Moved” copyright © 2010 Alan M. Clark.
Interior illustration for Cherry Hill by James A. Moore.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.