Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back from the holidays

Arrived home a few hours ago. Traffic getting from New Jersey into NYC was horrible. I'm exhausted, Karen caught my older boy Simon's cold and feels terrible. Thank god we have a long weekend before work starts again.

On the upside, I wrote episode 2 of the new story arc for the Dark InSpectre. Still needs a few tweeks here and there, but I like it. Till next time!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

home for the holidays

This is just a quick note. I'm traveling tomorrow with the family for our annual pilgrimage to Rockville, MD, and a visit with my folks. Probably will not be able to post till we get back next week.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Episode 11 bursts forth

Episode 11 of The Dark InSpectre is now online.
Here's an excerpt:

He was standing there, waiting for me, his grainy form still well defined for a guy who’d bought it three years ago. Mike Allen, aka Mikey Peeps. In life he’d been a low-ranking hood who ran numbers for major bookies. He got his nickname because he liked to watch. He watched a lot. Mikey was one of our best snitches until somebody figured it out and whacked him. In this very cell.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

writing in the cold

It's been absolutely freezing outside. But Simon, my older boy had karate today, so I jumped at the chance to take him cuz that means some good writing time for me. The dojo where he trains is not particularly weather resistant, so whatever the temperature is outside, it's pretty close to that inside. I just wrote while wearing several layers. I actually did a good amount of revising of upcoming episodes of the Dark InSpectre. Felt good, every time I work on it I manage to make it darker, grittier. The next chance I get to write, I'll work on the new story arc.

I got an unbelievably quick rejection from F&SF Magazine for my most recent short story. Not unexpected, but depressing nonetheless. I'm going to wait till after New Year's and then submit to a new, start-up webzine that's paying pro rates.

I've been worrying about another story of mine, which I submitted to Something Wicked magazine in April. It's not that they haven't given me a response, I've waited longer for responses from other mag's. It's that there seems to be nothing happening at all with the magazine. It's like radio silence. I know they're trying to go from a print to a digital mag. To me that means one of two things, either they'll announce how the next issue is progressing after New Year's, or they'll just chuck it and call it quits. Hopefully it will be the former.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The non-schtupping clause

I've been having an interesting conversation with the editor of Abandoned Towers magazine, which publishes my Dark InSpectre series. In her writer's guidelines, there are two major rules. The first is no cursing. I find this somewhat bothersome since in a hardboiled detective series, characters do use foul language. It's how people really talk, and it makes the story harder hitting and more gritty if done correctly. I'm not talking the f word every other word, but that episode of Sponge Bob where he discovers cursing got it right, it can be a "sentence enhancer."

Nevertheless, the rule is not that big a deal and I don't find it terribly restrictive. The next one is the more significant problem: no depictions or content describing sex between a non-married couple (man and a woman). In the guidelines, this is called a non-traditional lifestyle. This may not be a problem for many stories, but it is for mine. It's just not realistic to think that in my series, the main character (who is not married) will never have sex with a woman. Maybe it wouldn't happen during the course of a particular story arc, but it's a series, it's going to happen. Readers would think it strange if it didn't.

I've been trying to explain this to my editor, and even described the particular circumstances leading up to it in the second story arc. I think she's on board with it, but I'll see when I actually get to that part and write the episode. So as of now it's undecided. Maybe Jack gets some, maybe he doesn't!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A milestone, of sorts

A few days ago the number of unique visitors who viewed The Dark InSpectre hit the 500 mark. For some reason, this seems like a milestone to me. Not sure why, not even sure what it means. But it seems cool that as best I can figure it, some combination of people have taken a gander at my supernatural crime series a total of 500 times. That's as close as I can come to understanding the significance of it. And it's a nice round number, too!

In other news, I am almost done with the first episode of the new story arc. I have had the broad outlines in my head for a while, but it's always amazing to me the creativity and new directions that happen when I'm actually writing. I have always felt that there are some things that can only happen on the page, as opposed to working them out in advance. That's definitely true for me and my writing, not sure about anyone else.

I was also glad to see that the voice of the story is still firmly in my head. Side note: I'm finding that my older son's Saturday morning karate class is an excellent place to get writing done. He has a double class that lasts a bit over 2 hours. They're all screaming and doing drills, and I'm just sitting there typing away. It's like heaven.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Monopoly money

I have a PayPal account, and I've received a couple of payments into it lately, for my short story/e-book The Killer Within and for the last few episodes of The Dark InSpectre. Here's my question: is this real money? I honestly don't know. From what I understand, I can use this money toward online purchases at sites that accept PayPal payments. Is that it? Can I apply the money to my credit card? Can I magically turn it into hard currency in my hand? I don't have much of an understanding of how PayPal works. I got the account mainly because a lot of short story markets will only pay via PayPal, and many publishers strongly prefer it. That's pretty much the extent of my understanding. If anybody could drop some knowledge on me, I'd appreciate it.

In other news, the author/editor for the Wolfsongs anthology has once again stated on her blog that she intends to re-start working on the second edition, so hope springs eternal for my short story.

But more importantly, I've sent my newly finished short story, titled Music and Magnetism, out into the void. I am starting at the high-end, most prestigious market and will work my way down. Who knows where the spinning roulette wheel will stop. And this, in turn, has left me free to at last begin writing the next story arc for the Dark InSpectre. I've written the first few paragraphs, I'm totally psyched.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Special Guest, Naomi Clark!

Hello everyone! Today, I’m very pleased to have as my guest blogger one of my fellow Damnation Books authors Naomi Clark here to answer a few questions. Naomi lives in Cambridge, England. A mild-mannered office worker by day, Naomi is somewhat obsessed with giant creatures of the sea and is a devoté of 80s cartoons. Naomi’s novel, Afterlife, has just been released in e-book form by Damnation Books (see cover below), and her novel Silver Kiss is set for release next year (2010).

Jason: Naomi, your e-novel Afterlife was just released. Tell us a little about it.

Naomi: Afterlife is a tale of supernatural murder, ghosts, ghouls, demons and cocktails, starring Yasmin Stoker, a vampire-hunting wraith. On one of her regular hunts, she witnesses a mysterious ghostly girl pulling the body of a teenage boy underground. Who – and what – is this girl? And why is she attacking men around the city? Yasmin investigates, but it quickly becomes clear that somebody wants to keep her from finding the killer and they’ll do anything – including ambushing her with ghouls and cacodaemons – to stop her.

Jason: Is this novel the first of a series? How do you see the storyline developing?

Naomi: I certainly plan to make it a series. I’ve just started the sequel, Afterburn, and hope to write at least one more book after that. The main storyline will focus on Yasmin’s personal journey as she comes to terms with her own past. But she also has a potential demon war to contend with, not to mention the fallout from the events of Afterlife (can’t really say anything without giving spoilers, but here’s a hint: vampires! Necromancers! Angst!)

Jason: You also have a series of books contracted with Queered Fiction, starting with Silver Kiss, which is due out next year. What is that series about?

Naomi: Silver Kiss is the first of the Urban Wolf novels, a follow-on from my short story Wolf Strap, which was published earlier this year as part of an anthology. This series focuses on the werewolf Ayla, a lone wolf who has chosen to return to her pack, and all the complications that causes. Silver Kiss itself is probably best described as “Fight Club with werewolves, and also some drug dealers.” I’m very excited about its release next year. :)

Jason: When did you start writing? What were some of your early influences?

Naomi: I’m not entirely sure... I’ve always written, ever since I was very young. I started writing seriously when I was in my early teens. I wrote several (very bad) fantasy novels before doing a degree in creative writing and really honing my skills. Once I graduated, I wrote several (better) novels, and have been lucky enough to find homes for some of them. As far as early influences go, I loved Tamora Pearce’s YA fantasies, as well as Stephen King. The first urban fantasy I read was one of Mercedes Lackey’s, but it wasn’t until I discovered Anita Blake that I knew I really wanted to write urban fantasy.

Jason: Are there any particular themes to your writing? How do you come up with ideas?

Naomi: I usually find themes after I’ve finished the book – I rarely set out with any in mind! Ideas come in all forms – often I’ll find a character before I find a story, and start from there. Sometimes I end up cannibalizing old plots and characters and using them in new novels. One of the characters in Afterlife started out in a completely different series and had a completely different role, but he fit perfectly into Afterlife.

Jason: What’s the hardest part of writing for you, and how do you deal with it?

Naomi: I’m not very good at endings! I always end up expanding them in the second draft, as I tend to rush through the climactic end scene and leave a rather messy conclusion. The only solution I’ve found so far is to leave the book alone for a week or so, then go back and start reworking. Distance and perspective work wonders.

The other hard part, for me, is the fact that I have a day job to deal with, too, one that involves sitting at a computer all day. Sometimes when you get home after spending seven hours at a computer, the last thing you want to do is stare at a screen all evening, as well, even if it’s to do something you love. I’m still working on a permanent solution to this, but so far it’s just a case of “man up and do it.”

Jason: Are you more comfortable writing short stories or novels?

Naomi: Both, I think. My degree comprised short story writing for the most part, so for three years I hardly did any novel writing at all. I think the skills used in writing shorts are really valuable in writing novels, so I try to keep my hand in it by doing both. Novels are more fun though – there’s more time to get into world-building, character arcs, and so on.

Jason: What advice can you give to aspiring writers out there?

Naomi: Three things: Read, write, study. You need to read voraciously if you want to be a writer. You need to know what’s out there and what other people are doing. Be aware of what’s happening in your genre.

And obviously you need to write, or you’ve got no hope.

As for learning, that’s twofold. First, you’ve got to have the basic skills to put together a good story. Imagination alone isn’t enough – you need grammar, punctuation, pacing, world-building, all the gritty behind-the-scenes stuff. Without this, you’re going to have a hard time, so make sure you hone your craft!

Second: research, research, research! Before you even think of submitting a book to an agent or publisher, do your homework. The internet is full of sites that give advice to writers, and you should read as much of it as you can. There are plenty of bad agents, scam artists, and pitfalls out there for newbies, so arm yourself in advance.

Jason: What other projects or stories do you have coming out you’d like to highlight?

Naomi: Well, aside from Silver Kiss and its sequels (2010 and 2011), I have a short story titled Deadline due out in the January 2010 issue of Midnight Times e-zine. It’s a speculative fiction piece I wrote at university and am very proud of!


That’ll wind things up for now. Thanks Naomi for giving us some very interesting insight into your writing and creative process. Feel free to stop by any time. Good luck to you on all your future writing endeavors!

You can check out Naomi’s fiction at: And coincidentally, I’m on Naomi’s blog, answering a few of her questions today, as well:

Bye for now!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Episode 10 is up

The next episode of The Dark InSpectre is online.

Here's an excerpt:

“Don’t be naïve. There are plenty of other tels who could be here.” His eyes narrowed and his hands tightened on the railing. “But out of a hundred normals we’re the only ones. It’s because we’re the ones that make them feel safe from the rest of our kind. To normals, we’ll always be different, and that’s what makes them afraid. But they’ll always be the ones holding the strings. Remember that, Jack.”

Peruse at your own pleasure:

In addition, tomorrow I'll be guest blogging here:

And Naomi Clark will be blogging right here in this space!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

After the turkey

Back from Thanksgiving. I ate too much, 'nuff said.

Couple of interesting things. The story I've been working on is as ready as it's going to be. I'm now deciding which market to try first. Then I will send it out into the void.

Another story of mine, The Devil You Know, I subbed to a relatively new market called Strangetastic. We'll see...

I don't know what I'm going to do with my story that was subbed to Flashing Swords, which just folded. I think I'll sit on it for a while.

In blogging news, I sent my post over to fellow Damnation Books author Naomi Clark for her to post on her site on Dec. 7. And she sent me her post to put up here on Dec. 8. I am also set to guest blog at another place called the Long and the Short of It on January 8. Kim, the publisher at Damnation Books, suggested it as a good place to get some publicity. It seems kind of a romance-oriented site, but I guess I can reach a different audience there...? Whatever, it's an opportunity and I'm doing it.