Tag Archives: Books

Horror for a Cause: Book Sales to Support Bullying Prevention

imageYou may or may not be aware of this, but October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As the primary theme in my book “Feeding Lazarus” is a message of anti-bullying, during the entire month of October, 50% of the total profits from the book’s sale will be donated to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in support of this cause and to help bring awareness.

As a personal victim of bullying, abuse, and social exclusion, this is an issue I feel very strongly about. I’ve not only been a victim, but I’ve also been a witness. I’ve seen it happen numerous times. Some of those times, I’ve done something about it. Other times, I haven’t. The latter, well, those are times I’m not very proud of.

Let’s face it, the truth is, we’ve all been there. We’ve all seen it happen in some form or another.  Sometimes, we’ve done something, and sometimes we’ve chosen to look away. We can’t all be Superman, but we CAN choose to be a hero; we can do something about it. NOW. We can all stand up to bullies. We can choose to say something when we see it happening; we can tell them to stop. We have that power. We can also donate, fundraise, or just help spread the word. And please keep in mind, that bullying, abuse, and social exclusion are not just inherent to schoolyard pranks and high-school antics. It happens to adults, in the workplace, in our homes, even within our own families.

Bullying is an atrocity. Lives are lost. Suicides result. It needs to stop. We all need to stand up and say, “The End of Bullying Begins with Me.” Daniel, the main character in “Feeding Lazarus,” represents all the times I looked away; writing his story, that’s me doing something about it. That is me beginning.

I’d like to say thank you to my publisher, Jaded Books Publishing, for their wonderful support of this truly important cause with matching contributions.

Please do share and spread the word. Also, I highly encourage you to visit PACER’s website on Bullying Prevention. While there, consider leaving a small donation if you are able, and also discover many other ways you can help this cause to End Bullying. Thank you for your time.

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Book Review: Zeller’s Alley

imageIn Zeller’s Alley, the debut poetry collection by poet B. Diehl, we get over 100 pages of poetry that offer not only a combination of personal reflection and social commentary, but also an enticing memoir as we look through the mind of this young man as he recalls and processes key moments from his life.

In Zeller’s Alley, we live his experiences. We know his passions. We feel his pain. We burn with his angst. By the end of this collection, I almost felt as if I knew the poet personally. I certainly learned much about him through these pages, and no doubt, I learned a bit more about myself in the process.

Over the course of these poems, Diehl proves without a doubt that, despite his age, he is a seasoned wordsmith with much to say. There is no fat here. Zeller’s Alley is a trimmed and solid collection of quality poetry. Overall, I highly enjoyed it. It was entertaining, compelling, and thought-provoking from cover to cover. I will be anxious to see what this very talented poet does next. Heavily recommended!

Purchase Zeller’s Alley at Amazon HERE.

Connect with B. Diehl via his Website HERE.


Book Review: The Godgame

imageIf you’re reading this then you might be deciding whether or not you should buy The Godgame by Keith Deininger, so let’s cut to the chase. Should you buy The Godgame? Absolutely yes!

I have been following Keith’s work since before he even published his first book, and I must say, he just keeps getting better. With each new release he shows that he is constantly honing his skills and becoming a true master of his craft.

In The Godgame, Keith displays what a truly exceptional storyteller that he is. And that’s what it all comes down to, the story. The story is what keeps us reading, what keeps us turning the pages late into the night, and The Godgame is a wonderfully captivating story set in a vivid and dark fantasy world that is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It is enticing, thoughtful, and absolutely fantastic!

Buy it, love it, tell your friends about. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers for Keith Deininger’s The Godgame!


The Death in Me – Published in Bete Noire Issue #17

BN17I’m a little late in posting this, but Bete Noire Issue #17 is out now and it includes the first-time publication of my poem, The Death in Me.

In case you don’t know, Bete Noire is a great little quarterly magazine full of “…stories that are well written, character driven and have a dark bent to them.”

My poem, The Clog was first published in Issue #6 back in 2012 and it’s great to see this publication not only going strong, but getting better and better with each new issue. So pick up a copy of Issue #17 in print or digital format, and if you enjoy the stories in this magazine, (which I have no doubt you will) consider supporting this small press publisher by grabbing a subscription so you will never miss an issue again!

[P.S. In January look for a slightly revised version of my poem Another Light (first published in Phantom Kangaroo issue no. 9, July 2012) to be included in Bete Noire Issue #18!]


NaNoWriMo: The 2013 Wrap-up

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The hardest part about National Novel Writing Month was dragging my lazy ass out of bed. That and, well you know, actually writing.

With another NaNoWriMo looming just around the corner, I thought it was time I posted my 2013 Wrap-up:

The Overview

2013 was my first attempt at participating in this chaotic, month-long writing marathon to churn out a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days. Along the way I learned quite a bit about myself, about my writing, and about my own abilities as a writer. I learned that I can write from an outline (granted, an outline thrown together in the week before the event), and still have the freedom to “pants it,” find surprises, and drift from the script now and again. I learned that I can set a writing goal, and I can achieve it. I learned that I can write (almost) everyday.

While I didn’t actually complete an entire novel, I learned that I have the ability to write a “novel-size” manuscript in just thirty days. And I learned (or rather reminded myself) that large quantities of coffee and energy shots can in fact replace sleep.

Overall, it was a great experience (from what I remember anyway, the entire month is all still very much a blur).While I technically “won” the event by hitting the 50,000 word goal on November 30, I’m certain there are some things I could have done differently, not necessarily better, to make the experience even more rewarding. So let’s take a moment to recap my adventures in NaNoWriMo 2013.

The Plan

I signed up mid-October on a whim, and started throwing together a quick outline from a story concept I’d been harboring for some time. I’d never tried to write “fast” before and had never really tested myself to see how many words I could cram out per hour, but I guessed that if I was typing at a good rate and just letting the stream of consciousness flow, just writing whatever came to mind without second guessing sentence structure or word choice, that I could probably hammer out about a thousand words in an hour.

So I planned to give myself roughly two hours per day to write, in the early morning hours before work and before the family started to stir. I hoped to reach two thousand words per day so that I could take Sundays off and not fall behind on word count.

The Process

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

Depending on the day’s work schedule, I would wake up anywhere between 4:30-6 a.m. I’d brew my coffee and take my place on the sofa, working on a T.V. tray set up as a desk with my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard. I had my music of course, ear-buds plugged in to my phone cranking out Pandora. (For some reason I was listening to a lot of Alt-J, Mumford and Sons, and Dave Matthews Band.)

Most days I found it easy to hit my word count in the given time, and I do believe my estimates proved pretty darn accurate. From what I remember, I was averaging right around 1,000 words/hour. There were a few days that I found time to write in the afternoons and those sessions would put me ahead. Me, being the lazy, procrastinating person that I am–instead of using these moments to really take off and up my word count–found opportunity several mornings to only write for an hour or so and then go back to bed for another hour prior to work.

I planned on blogging the whole experience along the way, but became so engrossed that I only managed to poke my head out once for a Week One Update. After that, there was only writing, coffee, and then darkness…

The Aftermath

2013 WriMo Stats
As you can see from the above image, I stayed on track and hit a total of 50,041 words on November 30. I ended up writing every day except for two days, day #10 and #28. Despite that, I never fell behind in the overall word count goal for any given day. I think this is really a good point to take home for anyone attempting the event this year. It is very important to keep your head above water. If you want to write ahead, write ahead, but don’t skip a day if it’s going to put you behind thinking you will make up for it tomorrow. That is, write for credit; don’t write yourself into debt. While I have read a few other writers post about falling behind and then making up for it in a final, glorious surge near the end, writing from a deficit only makes an already difficult challenge that much more challenging.

The Result

2013 WriMo Stats 2
So, what do I have to show for all this, aside from the satisfaction of knowing that I am now officially a WINNER! (With a t-shirt to prove it! Yippee!) plus all that ooey gooey knowledge and creamy-center-filled confidence I gained? Let me tell you: I am now the proud owner of 50,041 words of a half-finished “zero” draft novel that I haven’t looked at since and can barely even recall writing let alone remember what the hell I actually wrote. It is probably complete orangutan puke, but it is mine. It is mine to finish. It is mine to rewrite, edit, and revise. It is mine to turn into something perhaps worthwhile, something that could even one day be yours as well, and if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo, it might never have existed.

If you have never done NaNoWriMo before, don’t kid yourself, this is a very difficult challenge. By December 1, I was exhausted, burned out. With family obligations and a full time job, there’s no way I could keep that kind of pace going for much longer than a month. Even only writing a couple or three hours a day, it just wears you down, both physically and mentally, trying to keep pace and consistently make your word count. But if you can hang with it for the whole month, win or lose, it is extremely rewarding. And yes, I will be “competing” again this year. (As I’ll discuss here in a few days, this year I plan on cheating. Shhhh…)

How about any of you? Done NaNoWriMo in previous years? Care to share your experiences, good or bad? Or, if you’ve never done the event but are thinking about it, please feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below. While I’m still somewhat of a NaNoWriMoNewbie, I’d be happy to chat about the issue, and perhaps we can pull some real veterans into the discussion along with us.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, Just Write!


Come Fly with Death

Come Fly with Death Book Cover - Kindle

Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski is available now as an ebook for $0.99 and trade paperback for $5.99, and will also be available to order through your local bookstore in the coming weeks.

Below you’ll find two poems from this chapbook (two because I failed to post yesterday when my iPad became possessed). First is the title poem, ‘Come Fly with Death’ along with ‘Bring the Light.’ You can also sample three additional poems which I’ve previously posted: ‘One in Hell,’ ‘Ocean Eyes,’ and ‘Hell Fossil.’

Thank you so much for having a look at my work, and if you like it, tell a friend! (If you don’t like it, just pretend you never read it.)

 

COME FLY WITH DEATH

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Come fly with Death
and feel the splitting as you come apart
with turbulent screams bifurcating bones.

Flee further from this life—
unfurl your wings and soar
with tangled feathers cutting the night.

Join his skeleton beak,
slicing stabs at airless wind,
and wield its dashing spine.

Stay near to glinting shroud and glide,
knowing tattered wings will guide,
as whispering scars are left behind.

Go now into that hollow abyss,
but do not pass the dark in calmness;
break the barrier with raging clamor!

Do not scrape or merely crawl.
Come fly with Death—
and swoop, and yawp, and bawl.

 

BRING THE LIGHT

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski

What wretched creatures lie before me!
Squealing, squirming in the dark,
enthralled
amidst their feasting orgy.

Gnashing teeth, spattering blood,
festering bone;
their tongues dance along the drips
of other men’s pain.

A cryptic overseer
looms beyond the mist,
his crow shoulders
pecking upon the scars.

A thousand wicked grins
gleam from rubble and from rot,
a pile of waste—
dead men leering in the dark.

A door to freedom is at their backs,
but most will never see it,
long since trading eyes
for sharper teeth and larger maws.

But I bring the Light,
and I wear the shroud.
My candle burns;
my flame never falters.

The Bearer of the Cross walks beside me.
We pass among the throng
and it parts before our steps;
like the splitting seas—

I bring the Light
and the darkness scatters.

 


Ocean Eyes

Zdzislaw Beksinski - 1978

Zdzislaw Beksinski – 1978

Today’s poem from Come Fly with Death is called ‘Ocean Eyes.’ While it was initially inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s painting seen in the image above, this poem is really about my wife, Brenda. It is a quick, simple little poem that I think displays some variety in the book (not every poem included is quite as horrific as yesterday’s ‘One in Hell‘ but many are) and it is actually one of my personal favorites, possibly due to its sheer simplicity. I hope you enjoy.

OCEAN EYES

Beneath the crescent moon

I’ll know your scent,

buried in the breeze that sweeps your hair.

I’ll taste you on the shore,

salted skin sweet with sweat,

flesh made orange upon the grit.

I’ll swim inside your ocean eyes,

pulled so hard within your tides,

and drown inside your depths.

Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski releases on Sunday, October 12. Pre-order the ebook here on Amazon for $0.99 or the trade-paperback (List Price: $5.99) on Amazon or the Createspace Storefront. Or wait a week or two and support your local bookstore by ordering directly from them (recommended!).


One in Hell

Zdzisław Beksiński - 1986 (4)

Zdzisław Beksiński – 1986

With only four days until its “official” release, I think it’s time I let you folks sample some of my chapbook, Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski. So as a sort of “countdown,” I will be posting one poem from the book right here every day through launch day, Sunday, October 12.

Today I am sharing the first poem included, which is also the first one I wrote for the collection. It was inspired by the image of the painting above (and I might be breaking some copyright laws by posting that, I really don’t know).

So have a read, and if you like the poem, consider pre-ordering the ebook on Amazon for only $0.99, or grab a physical copy, which has (unintentionally) arrived a few days early (whoops!) and is now available to order on Createspace or Amazon for the retail price of $5.99. The print edition should also be available to order through your local bookstore in (just?) a few weeks (why that process takes so long, I have no clue).

And be sure to stop back here to check out a new poem from this little chapbook every day through Sunday.

Enjoy!

ONE IN HELL

Bones wrapped in bones,
wrapped in layers,
layers of bone on bone;
encrusted earth of flesh
crumbles at our feet,
our feet formed of clay.
Your face, my face—
we melt into one.

Our place,
Our flesh,
Our bones,
heaped upon this pole,
this whipping pole,
this torture pole
jutting from the nightmare.

You give me hugs.
I taste your lips;
they are one inside my mouth
and fused in teeth,
blended as I bite,
and eat you whole
and eat your parts.

My heart still beats
somewhere inside your chest,
deep within your cage,
ribs stripped of flesh;
and your heart mingles, tickles,
tingles in my skull.

My eyes peel wide
to wicked weather,
creeping fog,
settling dew
saturated with our fluids;
rain of skin
falls softly now upon us.

Me, you, we—
there is no start,
there is no end;
our twisted corpses
stretching on
forever,
and forever—
we are intertwined.

Meet Daniel from FEEDING LAZARUS

I was recently invited by an author I truly admire, Keith Deininger, to answer a little questionnaire about a character from one of my works. Keith wrote about his character, Kayla from GHOSTS OF EDEN on his blog. Ghosts of Eden, Keith’s latest novel, will be out November 4th of this year in paperback, limited edition hardcover, and for the Kindle. The Kindle version is currently available to pre-order at a reduce price. I highly recommend any and all of the fantastic and disturbing works by this very talented writer.

What is the name of your character?

Daniel Devlin, but in the story you’ll discover a few of his other names and the stories behind them: Devil Boy, Dog-shit, Squirt, and Pisser Licker, just to name a few.

Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Fictional. But as we writers write what we know, Daniel is a mix of people I have known, even including myself. He is anyone who has ever been abused, picked-on, or bullied. Essentially, Daniel is made up of anyone who has ever been an outcast, or felt that they were different than “normal” people.

When and where is the story set? What should we know about him/her?

Modern day in a small, fictional town in Southern Illinois called Shadow Oaks. The most important aspect of Daniel, aside from his tormented life filled with bullies and abusers, is his strong imagination. It is the power of his imagination which allows Daniel to escape the horrors of his waking life, and it is his imagination which may prove to be his demise. Also, Daniel likes to burn things, even himself.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Daniel is tormented by the people who dwell in his world: the bullies at school who mock him, their pranks steadily escalating into deadly acts of torture; and the monster living in his home who abuses Daniel’s mother, using her as his sex slave to gratify his violent, sadistic desires. But everything starts to change when Daniel finds a dead body at an abandoned construction site–a withering corpse which appears to be returning to life.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Daniel wants to discover the truth about his forgotten past, learn about his real father, and ultimately end the suffering that has plagued him and his mother.

Where can we read more about your novel?

The best place to stay up to date is here on the blog. You can also sign up for our Newsletter, or visit the homepage for Rafe Grayson, the pen name I’ll be publishing under.

When can we expect the book to be published?

I am aiming for First Quarter 2015.

[If you are an author and would like to participate in this blog tour by sharing some information about a character in one of your works, just follow this format and post it to your blog. Then send me a link to your post at wesdgray(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll share your post and link it with mine. Thanks!]


NaNoWriMo: Post Week One Update

Graph

My journey into this lunatic adventure of National Novel Writing Month is well underway as I’m joining nearly 300,000 other writers (so far) in this grand (insane?) undertaking to write an entire novel in 30 days during the month of November. Now that we’re done with the first quarter (sports term for all you sport-ish people) and boldly going right on into the next, sleep deprived and caffeine juiced, with alienated family and friends, I think it’s time for a quick update to see how things are shaping up.

First, here’s a look at the score card:

Score

 

A quick word on motivation and word output:

The hardest part of this whole adventure thus far has been waking up early. That is, actually opening my eyes, forcing my lazy butt to roll out of bed, and JUST WRITE! I’ve been waking up every morning anywhere between 4:30 and 5:oo a.m., brewing coffee, headphones tuned to Pandora, and then sitting down to write. Nothing else, no distractions. That gives me about two hours before the kids start waking up and then I’m pretty much done for the day. On two days I wrote in the afternoons, once on Saturday while the kids napped and once on Wednesday after work. On each of those days, I cleared over 3,000 words. I’m averaging about 1,000 words an hour. Some hours I get less, but some hours I get more. as far as words go, I guess I’m not doing too bad. (Note: refer to the graph at the top of the post for my daily progress chart.)

But how’s the story shaping up?

That’s a fair question. Allow me to attempt to provide an answer, but since I’m blazing a trail forward and not looking back to see the terrible mess I’m making, I’ll just have to guess. I started with a rough outline that I threw together the week before Nano began. It is basically just a work in progress TOC with the major parts listed and basic details of what’s to happen in each part. I didn’t break it down any further into specific chapters or scenes. In all there are five parts. After nearly 16k words, I’m still floating, rather aimlessly, around in Part I. Clearly I am pantsing it (within the framework of my outline) and I know I’ve written a puke-tastic amount of fluff. I mean, not much has happened yet in terms of plot, and I know that will be an issue ill need to to tackle in the coming drafts, but in the mean time, who cares? I’m fully aware that what I’m creating is a Hot Stinking Mess, but that’s OKAY! At this rate however, I’ll be doing Nano: The Extended Edition until late January before I ever reach the end of that final scene. Oh well, it is what it is. At least I’ll have something to work with once the first (zero?) draft is actually complete. 

And now the summary:

Overall, I’m actually quite amazed that Nano is going this smoothly so far. I honestly felt like it was going to be nearly impossible and that I was completely nuts for even considering it, and now it feels entirely possible. The (seemingly) impossible is now looking quite plausible, perhaps even probable? Now that I’m sensing that accomplishing the goal is actually attainable, my drive and determination are all that much hungrier. All I have to do is keep doing what I’ve been doing and at this pace, I might actually win. Well okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of novel yet to write, but so far I must say it’s looking quite good for the home team.


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