Sunday, January 27, 2013

The nightmare may be over...but fear has just begun!

Fear is an emotion like no other, a powerful sensation that relishes the chance  to play tricks with you, and taking every opportunity to do so. One of the more common times it does this is immediately after awakening from a particularly troubling nightmare. While you were subconsciously tossing and turning and maybe even thrashing about throughout the dream, fear was already taking hold, harnessing and collecting, making note of all your prior dormant trepidations. These may have been completely fictional, from book or film, or they may have been from truly horrifying life experiences, like when that friend jumped out at you wearing a hockey mask and waving a machete, or when you watched that plump, hairy spider scamper across the floor, only to disappear under the couch. Nonetheless, fear knows your deepest and darkest, and is constantly ready to utilize the information at a moment’s notice. Tonight it is taking the opportunity offered and waiting silently within your psyche while you traverse through the throes subconscious horror. And, it already has a plan.

Suddenly you awaken gasping for breath and with beads of sweat formed. Maybe you’ve sat up and are awaiting the chill to subside, most likely thinking the terror is over. Little do you know that it is not, and as you become increasingly aware of the enveloping darkness, a major player in the overall grand scheme, fear slides the throttle forward.
You peer into the room’s dark corner and the shadows seem to move ever so slightly. Of course, deep down, you know that those corner shadows are no different than any other night. But, tonight is different. Tonight, while the terrifying nightmare is still fresh in your mind, fear has already calculated and is emphasizing those shadows to somehow appear oddly different. Coincidently, the normal darkness seems strangely different too.

Within moments, the flood of once fading terror has abruptly turned about face and your mind fills with all sorts of ghastly ghoulies, waiting to pounce, gnaw, rip, shred and tear. You look away and close your eyes tight, hoping that the action will somehow drive it all away. But, when you look back, it hasn’t. The shadows are still there and still the same. The chess battle continues with your next move, slinking down under the blanket and pulling it up over your head. Consciously you make attempts to dispel by thinking happy thoughts and secretly praying for safety. However, fear retaliates with a check move, by misspelling the word and then beaming it vividly, like a neon light, into your mind…P R E Y I N G!

And it is now that fear has grasped fully, it begins recruiting and incorporating your ears as well, allowing the amplification of all those typical normal night noises you’ve grown accustomed to, such as the creaks of the house settling, or that alley cat meowing at the full moon. Maybe, if fear is lucky, there will be a storm raging outside, complete with howling wind, lightning flashes and tremendous booms, and it will make the job easier.
Regardless, your mind will begin to wander into dreadfulness, peering from window to corner, back and forth, from behind the blanket seam you’ve opened, automatically having thoughts of the boogeyman and asking yourself what that sound was?

Maybe there isn’t something horrible lurking. On the other hand, maybe there is and if so, contrary to what your mind tells you, simply hiding under those covers won’t save you because it already knows your there

Maybe you’d better look again…

Sunday, January 20, 2013

So, you want to be a writer...

As everyone knows, when it comes to a product, whether it is widgets or writings, promotion is everything. And, unless you are a Koontz or a King, that promotion falls squarely on the writer’s shoulders. This can be rather trying because, as most writers’ will probably attest, besides finding the time in this fast paced world to write that next great novel, the writer will also be consumed with having to write various other things. These may be as simple as a quick snippet about their latest tale posted on a social media site, or as extensive as an article for their blog or personal website. It could be a query letter proposing your next idea or re-editing a recently rejected piece for resubmission elsewhere. The point being, that with writing, it’s never simply the tale.

While I do contend that overnight success does happen on occasion, please realize that it is rare and has odds equating to winning the lottery. Therefore, for those writers’ out there that think it is only a matter of plopping down in front of a computer, putting together a college of words you now call a novel, shipping it out to a publisher expecting that publisher to return within the week expressing delusions of grandeur and all of a sudden becoming a New York Times best seller, be prepared for a massive letdown. Of course, I commend and even share your optimism and hope, but, you should know that typically it is not that easy. Rejection is the norm and a writer needs to maintain leather skin. Otherwise, these rejections will play on you and gradually decrease self-confidence. Remember to never let it get you down. Take it with a grain of salt and know that, while the letter may sound dejecting, it more than likely isn’t personal. Maybe the piece doesn’t fit quite right with their current format or needs. Or maybe the publisher recently published something similar and doesn’t want to revisit the subject. Regardless, when this does occur, be sure to give it a good re-look, ensuring that all the t’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted and send it out again. Also, don’t be surprised when you realize that you suddenly came up with additions or subtractions too.

In a nutshell, this is how the writing process works. Don’t fool yourself, its hard work and the lazy need not apply. For, besides the tale itself, along the way there will be so much more that will need to be done. So, as mentioned earlier, the hardest will probably be that little matter of promotion. After all, what good does it do to write anything if no one knows about it.

Promotion can be relatively simple, or it can be excruciatingly hard, depending upon the individual. For the tech savy, the time frame will decrease drastically and for the technologically challenged, this may become an exercise in fear.

In today’s day and age, it is a given that most writers’ have at least a blog that the consistently contribute to. But, simply writing a piece and posting it usually won’t do. A blog doesn’t create itself and it is the blogger that will need to design their web presence layout. So much for just writing, huh? While I won’t go into detail on this, know that a blog represents the writer and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is where a writer should start. It is a central place where the writer can, besides posting various pieces, broadcast any other information they want fans to know. Of course, while a blog is an excellent place to start, a writer shouldn’t limit themselves to it. Things like a professional website with a personal domain and having several social media accounts will only increase exposure. And, once all this is in place, the promotion comes relatively easy.

Welcome my world…

Besides working anyway from 40 to 50 hours a week, I somehow manage to fit in daily writing. I should probably add that this doesn’t come without some extensive pre-thought and a hefty dose of tight organization. Anyways, my day starts at 5:00 am (off days vary from 6 to 7 am), where, while ingesting as much caffeine as humanly possible, I found myself banging on the keys by the light of a nearby fish tank. What I write will depend upon whether I feel an impending personal deadline approaching or whether I’ve had my mind firmly fixed on another idea. It could be a short story, blog piece, article, chapter in my latest novel or any number of other pieces. But, the point is, that I write.
An hour and a half later, finding myself in the shower, I plan out the next pieces which, coincidently, I have already had the pre-thought to create a file for, and they now quietly wait as a blank sheet on my computer. Although, sometimes (and it is funny to me how the shower seems to cause this) I’ll come up with another idea for a tale. And so begins the process of hurriedly lathering and rinsing, making every attempt to not let the burning soap sensation in my eye distract from keeping the idea at the forefront of my mind, rushing through toweling off, teeth brushing and deodorant smearing, in order to quickly get back to my computer to jot it down. Typically, all this occurs while tightly watching the clock ticking away, ensuring that I won’t be late for work.

And the day of work begins…

While I’m constantly hopeful of getting done early so I can make more time to write, I also know that this will probably be moot optimism and, just like any other work day, I will end up dragging my tired butt back through the door somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 or 8 pm, not wanting to do much of anything except become part of the couch. However, being a piece of furniture won’t progress a writing future, so this is the time that I use to promote either on my website, blog, social media, or any of the other established outlets. Finally, around 10:30 or 11 pm, I make my way to the bedroom.
But, the day is still not over and since, on my nightstand, I have a rather substantial pile of books that my better half cannot seem to avoid complaining about (God Bless her), I try and tackle one of them through drooping eyes, most of the time not getting through more than a few pages. Of course, since I’ve previously had the pleasure of awakening, face down on a drooled upon book and now having to unstick myself before washing off the temporary tattoo of words that now litter the side of my face, I keep myself in check and now set the book aside before the inevitable happens.

Whodathunkit! Then the alarm goes off and I do it again.

And, while I suppose I could have summed this whole article up in one single word…dedication, the idea never occurred, being the writer I am. And besides, you know what they call a writer that never gives up? Published!

This week I created, designed and launched my mobile app. It’s called The Dark Web of Horror Writer Thomas Scopel and includes this blog, as well as many other associated links, and a few creepy goodies thrown in for good measure.
Available in all mobile formats, get it here. (Note: Be sure to allow it to load completely before pinning to your desktop.)

Hey EC horror fans, there’s a new comic coming soon from Evil Jester Press, that will take writers’ tales and put them into graphic format. How gruesome would it be to see your tale drawn by some wickedly good artists? Yours truly has submitted and is anxiously waiting whether it is accepted or not.

And, the new article for my ongoing Land of Shadow & Substance Twilight Zone column is posted at Horror News Net. It's called "Where Is Everybody?"

Creepy Pics of the Week

Creepy Link of the Week

Search millions of burial records

And so ghouls, have a gruesome week and remember to stay scared!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

So much for the number 13 being unlucky....

Hello there minions, today is the 13th and while many consider it to be an unlucky number, this ghoul found it to be rather wickedly promising. 

First off, my letter to editor of the Steubenville, Ohio Herald Star newspaper was printed, and I have a few people mailing me copies. Thanks folks!
Read it here

And, I wrote a review for the film Django Unchained. Great western, deftly and gruesomely directed by Quentin Tarantino. Read it here

But, the most exciting news of the day was having my own ongoing bi-weekly column at Horror News Net accepted and approved. The column is entitled Land of Shadow and Substance, and will discuss each episode, exploring introduction, synopsis, cast members, and closing. Being a major fan of both The Twilight Zone, as well as Rod Serling, this is a bit overwhelming for me and I’m looking forward to every single installment. Basically, it is my personal shrine to a television show that had a great impact on me. With the inaugural article, I attempted to provide a Rod Serling type introduction and closing, and I feel I may have captured a little of that intrigue that he consistently brought. Of course, I’m no Rod Serling, but I gave it a shot and only you will be the judge of that. Regardless, it is now available to read here.

Horror pic of the week

Next up, editing chapter 5 of my first full length novel entitled A Lawnly Existence for Suspense Publishing. A tale about an old man attempting to fulfill his recently deceased wife’s dream, with morbid reprocussions. However, as I always make a point to mention, it is neither a ghost or zombie tale.

So, how was your 13th?


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 8th, 2013 and all is horrifically well

Hello 2013! Hopefully everyone’s holiday was nothing less than superb. As for me, Santa brought a bottle of Crystal Head vodka. Of course I felt obliged to sample, which turned into the whole damn thing. Wasn’t right for a couple of days afterward, but hey, what can I say, I’m a three time a year alcoholic…News Year’s Eve, Superbowl, and one miscellaneous. One down and two to go!
Otherwise, I’m hoping to have a gruesome year. Last year, I have to admit to relaxing a little. Of course, working upteen hours a week was probably the culprit, contributing heavily to this. Nonetheless, 2013 will not be a repeat performance and I’ve since refined a writing time budget that will prove both efficient and productive. I have a number of pieces I’d like to complete and submit, starting with my first full-length novel, A Lawnly Existence. It’s a tale about a lonely old man who inadvertantly stumbles upon an ancient book that gruesomely aids in fulfilling his recently deceased wife's last wish. However, it is neither a ghost story nor a zombie tale.
While the edits with Suspense Publishing have only just begun, they are going well and I’m hopeful in publishing sometime this summer. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I’ve submitted a tale called All for Love to Cemetery Dance, but have yet to receive word as to whether it is accepted or not. Of course, as most writers’ will attest, with rejection rates typically hovering somewhere near 95%, one cannot count on anything. This piece was already rejected by Weldon Burge’s Zippered Flesh 2 anthology at Smart Rhino Publications. However, this was not due to any lack of quality, but simply because he had already accepted a few stories that pertained to the subject. Therefore, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. After all, you know what they call a writer that never gives up? Published.
And so, that brings us to current events and the things I have slashing, scratching and gnawing. Recently I pitched a couple of column ideas to a couple of publications. I would like to tell you more, but, until they are official, I need to keep it to myself. I will promise you that if they are accepted, you’ll hear about it here. And, I will also tell you that it revolves around classic monsters and the Twilight Zone, respectively.
Soon, Wee Willie Wicked will be back to writing those film reviews for Horror News. During the month of December, he took a break and can honestly say he missed it. Nonetheless, the holidays took precedent and since they are now over, this clowning around writer can continue on.
Then there is the letter to the editor of my Ohio hometown newspaper (The Steubenville Herald Star) that discusses my philosophy toward that hometown since the national eruption and uproar (and rightly so) of the high school rape case that appeared to allegedly be covered up by the upper echelon locals. If you haven’t heard about it, you’ve obviously been living under a rock since it’s being heavily covered by most of the major news organizations. The hacker group Anonymous was responsible for breaking the sordid tale and forcing eyes to be opened, and to “A”, as they are officially known, I am proud to include my solidarity. Coincidently, my letter will be printed in either the January 12th or 13th edition (probably the Sunday edition). You will be able to read it here when it's published.
And so, I'll close on this note, hoping that your year has started well also. As always, Stay Scared, Thomas