Friday, May 23, 2008

Killing Gloria

Just about to be published: the latest edition of Estronomicon, the short-fiction ezine published by Screaming Dreams Press, featuring my story 'Killing Gloria'. It's one of my earlier stories, and still one of my personal favourites. The story appeared previously in Scifantastic #2, and received a very favourable review at Whispers of Wickedness. Steve Redwood had this to say:

Quite different in tone is Lee Moan's Killing Gloria, a successful action-packed mixture of serious and a bit tongue-in-cheek, as a man tries to rid himself of an android or replicant who (though more like Desdemona than Othello, but I do so want to throw in the one Shakespearean quote I can remember!) 'loved not wisely but too well', and more to the point, 'one not easily jealous, but being wrought, perplexed in the extreme'. After the husband has 'killed' the too-devoted lady for the second time, she is getting tetchy, and indeed rather ominously 'perplexed': "I'm finding it very hard not to be angry with you right now." Retribution swiftly follows, as it is wont to do in fiction. This would make a wonderful Twilight Zone film.

There is also some fantastic fiction from the likes of Hugh MacDonald (Dead of Night Award Winner), Robin James Hutton, Sean Parker and Charles Black, amongst others. Go here to download the latest issue: Estronomicon Fiction Special

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Three Books

I’ve read more books on the craft of writing than I care to remember, but there are three in particular which I frequently return to, each one for different reasons.

The three books are:

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
On Writing by Stephen King
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E. B. White.

The Brande book I go to for inspiration. It sets itself apart from most books about writing, because it isn’t really about the nuts and bolts of writing – it’s about what it means to be a writer, what it takes to be a writer, and what you need to do (both internally and externally) to write successfully.
The King book I go to for rejuvenation. I’ve posted before about the healing powers of King’s fiction and how, for me, a dose of King can set me back on the right path when things have gone awry. That also applies to his brilliant non-fiction pieces, too. (Danse Macabre is also great, but it’s really concerned with horror, not writing.) On Writing is a fantastic, heart-warming book about the joys and pains of writing, all told by the most human, enthusiastic writer of his generation. “God loves an enthusiast?” King’s enthusiasm rubs off on me every time I dip into this precious tome.
And then there is Strunk and White’s bible of style. If you’re a writer, then this book is an essential purchase, and should always remain close to hand. The book may not exactly save your life, but it can save you from looking like a (literary) berk.

Dorothea Brande’s Tip of the Day:

“If you are unable to finish a piece of work at one sitting, make an engagement with yourself to resume work before you rise from the table. You will find that this acts like a posthypnotic suggestion, in more ways than one. You will get back to the work without delay, and you will pick up the same note with little difficulty, so that your story will not show as many different styles as a patchwork quilt when it is done.”

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Back to it

After a long and unexpected hiatus on the short story front, I'm pleased and relieved to be working on some new material. It was down to a combination of factors, but mainly burnout, I think. After producing forty short stories in four years I think the short story well just dried up, and I figured it was best just to walk away from it for a while, let it refill, even though at times it seemed to be refilling at a very slow trickle, if at all. I was never too worried during the drought, though. I mean, it wasn't exactly writer's block--I was still working on my novels (one all but finished, one awaiting editing, one being written now), and writing other bits and pieces--so I didn't get myself all depressed and tearing my shirt in frustration or anything. In fact it was a nice break from the (self-imposed) pressure to keep coming up with new short story ideas. It also helped to have a clutch of about eight completed stories in the out tray (which are still being subbed hither and thither as I write).

Now, though, I'm hopefully entering a new phase of short story writing. The involuntary hiatus has given me time to sit down and think about stuff I really want to write, about issues that are burning inside me, and about ideas that truly excite me. I've been reading, too, reading the kind of stuff that makes me kick myself and say "Damn, I wish I'd written that!" Things like that often spur me on to come up with something as good or better. This never happens, of course, but as the old saying goes, if you aim for the moon...

So, first up is a piece of weird fiction inspired by a children's book called 'Angus Rides the Goods Train'. The concept for my story actually came to me as I was reading the book to my kids! No definitive title as yet, but the prospect of writing it is so exciting I don't care about that. A title will come, no doubt, somewhere along the way.

After that, there's 'The Spiders of Suburbia' which is an idea I've been mulling over for a very long time, just waiting for that central key scene which helped kick it into life. There's more to come, and it's all very exciting. And, of course, those novels...