Merry New Year! And what a wonderful New Year it is! Not only did I get my first royalty check for The Filing Cabinet of Doom, also my interview with gothic scribe lady Maria Alexander went up on Dirge Magazine. Have a read!
Bizarre Book Club 11: A Love Letter To Louise Brooks, Pulp Lovecraft And Clowns In The Attic
Today’s pretentious (and frankly quite silly) book club picture is brought to you by a poster of the London Literature Festival.
Let’s look at what lovely droplets of word wonders we have today.
1. Strange Vs Lovecraft by various. We all know the Lovecraft way: Lots of high minded dialogue and description, a few masterful aliens and a lot of cowering humans, all with a dash of racism thrown in for good measure. Or is it? Lovecraft has spawned a multitude of fan fiction and this is probably the most unusual. These folks love Lovecraft but they’ve taken his ideas to a new place – a trash/pulp/bizarro type place.
Kevin Strange, the editor, says of Lovecraft in the intro: ” I love the pomposity, the snobbery, the feeling of exclusion. No other horror fiction feels like a private clubhouse as much as Lovecraftian fiction. It’s part of the genre’s charm and mystery. But I’m here to crash the party.”
And crash it they do. It’s a very entertaining collection of stories even if some do get a little juvenile (you may argue that that’s the point), and it’s definitely not for the easily offended. However Lovecraft himself could be quite offensive when he wanted to be, so go ahead, have a read and make up your own minds.
2. The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Partly a study in loneliness and partly the exploration of our relationship with big screen performers, who are completely clueless of our existence while we feel we know them so well, this was apparently inspired by the author’s fascination with silent siren Louise Brooks. I don’t blame him, she was a fox.
A man is stuck on a desert island with only a handful of strangers for company, however these strangers don’t acknowledge him. Who are they and why do they repeat the same actions day after day? It’s an intriguing and slightly spooky read which made me think of immersive plays where you wander from room to room watching the performance, and it’s really quite a clever idea.
3. Attic Clowns Volume Four by Jeremy C Shipp. Apparently there are other volumes of clown in attics which I have not read yet, but this includes a standalone novella called The Ascension of Globcow the Foot Eater and a short story called Hobo.
An angel who takes his job far more seriously than his co-workers is asked to help a small demon called Globcow mend his ways and live among the angels, a task that turns out not to be as easy as he thought. Globcow is actually quite a cute story, albeit one that includes murder, dismemberment and a scary clown. In an attic!
Jeremy has an endearing sense of humour which I find very appealing and it was enough to make me want to search out his other stuff too. Which I will.
4. Discouraging At Best by John Lawson. This is an intriguing, sometimes confusing, sometimes funny, occasionally disturbing stream-of-consciousness story that highlights the author’s concern with the state of the world, including it’s views on violence and race.
It’s a barrage in the shape of a narrative but one I feel is worth reading rather than just a simple lecture. It’s unusual and interestingly presented, and it might just tickle your brain.
Well, that’s enough mind licking for now, toodle pip!
Novel, novella, short story? The word count difference in writing
Two posts in one day? Have the clocks been destroyed? Has my face melted into an Escher painting?
Word count is something that worries all writers or, if not, it probably should. Is it a novella? A short story? A microwaveable napkin?
OK, so for some definitive answers I suggest you trundle onto this post here by D. Robert Grixti, and it is definitely recommended – by me anyway, and what higher authority is there?
Maddie’s bizarre book club
I like to feast my brain and eyes with things that are rather unusual, as you may have guessed. Since winter began – my official hibernation and reading time – I’ve had the joy of finding some right good ‘uns which I shall share with you now. Ooh, and on a lovely snowy night too (unless you’re…somewhere it’s not snowing). I can almost hear the ghosts outside wailing about unpaid bills and the ten pence Johnny still owes.
1. Wisconsin Death Trip. This collection of news stories and unnervingly beautiful photography made it’s first appearance in the 70s. At the turn of the century (the Victorian one, not the other one) small towns in snowy Wisconsin were a tough place to live, inducing some pretty bizarre activity from the locals. Flick through the articles of the time and be drawn into a very spooky – but true – world.
Incidentally the events of the time are used as the backdrop for another book I enjoyed, twisty historic thriller A Reliable Wife.
2. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse. A humorously clever cross between Se7en and Old Mother Hubbard, the back of the book explains it better than I can:
“Once upon a time Jack set out to find his fortune in the big city. But the big city is Toy City, formerly known as Toy Town, and it has grown considerably since the good old days and isn’t all that jolly any more. And there is a serial killer loose on the streets.
The old, rich nursery rhyme characters are being slaughtered one by one and the Toy City police are getting nowhere in their investigations. Meanwhile, Private Eye Bill Winkie has gone missing, leaving behind his sidekick Eddie Bear to take care of things. Eddie may be a battered teddy with an identity crisis, but someone’s got to stop the killer.
When he teams up with Jack, the two are ready for the challenge. Not to mention the heavy drinking, bad behaviour, car chases, gratuitous sex and violence, toy fetishism and all-round grossness along the way.”
3. The Best Bizarro of the Decade. I couldn’t really have a list of weird books without it. Everyone has preferences on their choice of out-there reading material and some of these short stories will not be your cup of tea (trust me I even hated a couple. I’m not saying which). However there are others which I found brilliant and very funny. If you can keep an open mind you will be rewarded. Maybe.
4. Better Haunted Homes and Gardens. This picture book is very sweet and pretty and future goth children will love it. If you can find a reasonably priced copy I recommend it, I know it brought out the kid who still loves Halloween in me.
5. Red Velvet and Absinthe. What can I say, I love (very) risque paranormal stories. These gothic tales are some of the best I’ve found and most have a different (and rude) way of looking at classic spookiness.
6. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Mary Roach is a funny lady. This book is an entertaining read about the different and unexpected ways a human body is used (crash research, nose jobs etc) and I was particularly fascinated when it came to learning about the minutiae of rotting.
However I must admit to skipping a few chapters in the middle – I just didn’t find the bits about planes crashes etc as entertaining. Weird as that sounds. But…the majority is well written and very humorous. Enjoy!
Well, there we have it. So many words, so little time, and so little human brains to ingest while doing it. Oh, no, I found another box. Farewell till next time!
Submitting – and writing – a graphic novel
I’m writing a YA graphic novel and I was worrying about structure, whether the artwork needs to be submitted at the same time and a million other things when I came across this article on a website called Let the Words Flow. Here’s the original article and here’s what Hayleigh Bird said:
“What do you think of when you hear the term graphic novel? I’m willing to bet that images of Spiderman, Batman, and Wonder Woman pop in to your head. But graphic novels aren’t just for superheroes and villains anymore. The audience for graphic novels has been expanding rapidly over the past few years. These days you can find graphic novels about space cats, political and philosophical issues, circuses, and yes, even vampires. Graphic novels are no longer targeted only at teenage boys. They are being created for boys and girls alike, for kids as young as six, and for adults too.
So why is this trend interesting to you, the writer? Publishers are very hungry for good graphic novels. That’s good news for anyone aspiring to be published, particularly if you have a fondness for art, sketching, and drawing. This post won’t tell you how to create a graphic novel, because there is really no guideline for that. And if you were to follow a guideline, your graphic novel would likely look the same as your next-door neighbor’s graphic novel, and as such not be as stand-out-fantastic as it could be. The best thing you can do if you’re creating a graphic novel is to create straight from your own head, from your own imagination. Different equals interesting, so go for it.
What you may need a little guidance with, however, is how to create a graphic novel submission, and what to include. Most publishers (and agents) do have a section on their website stating the regulations for submitting to them; however very few tell you what to include in a graphic novel submission. And submitting a graphic novel is very different than submitting a novel. For starters, you will submit a proposal rather than a partial.
What do editors and agents want to see in a proposal? You will need to include a document describing the book’s concept and specs. This means a plot summary, character and setting descriptions, proposed extent (how many pages?), trim (what size of pages?), and colours (full colour? Black and white?). This document should also include a biography, listing previous work. This part of your proposal expands on what you might say in a query letter. There are a few reasons that this document is important. First, an editor or agent wants to know that you have a clear idea of what your graphic novel is going to look like. If you don’t know the extent, trim size, etc, it means you haven’t really planned out what you are going to create. That’s not to say that these numbers won’t change as you continue creating – they might. But you should at least have a clear starting point, and plan.
If you are planning to write and illustrate your graphic novel, you will also need to include some sample spreads of finished, typeset artwork. I would suggest including spreads from your opening scene, and a climactic moment. Whatever you choose should be an important part of your plot, as whoever is reviewing your proposal will be most interested to see how you plan to illustrate and create those moments. In addition to the spreads, you also need to include character designs for each of your main characters. This means a couple pages of that character doing different things. You’ll want to portray them in a variety of poses and situations, so that there is a visible and clear sense of who that character is.
It is possible to submit a graphic novel proposal even if you are not an artist. Your chances of having your proposal accepted are likely lower, but if you have a stellar idea for a graphic novel then there are many agents and editors out there who would want to know about it. Your document containing a plot outline, character and setting descriptions, etc, will look the same as a proposal that includes illustrations. Your proposal, however, won’t include sample spreads, or character designs. What you will need to include is a scene of sample script. Again, it is advisable to choose either your opening scene, or your climax. The script should be just that: a script. It would look similar to a play, or screenplay script.
Publishers do not usually accept collaborations (of art and writing) from first time authors. That being said, the arena of graphic novels may be the only exception to this rule. Since most publishers do not have hard and fast submission guidelines for graphic novels, I would say that if you follow the general guideline that I gave you, there is no reason not to submit a collaboration. BUT it will take a lot more time, effort, and work before the submission is ready to send out. The nature of collaboration is that it is a lengthy process, as two people need to agree upon, and harmonize one vision. The revenue split would vary project to project, and publisher to publisher. Those details would get worked out when a contract is drawn up.
The sample spreads should definitely match/reflect the proposed dimensions for the finished book.
Lastly, if you are proposing a series, you should include a series outline, so that the editor or agent can see what the overall narrative arc will look like. They will also want to know how many books are being proposed. It is important to have a clear arc in mind, and not to plan to leave it open ended. Editors and agents want to know how you plan on ending your novel or series, not just how it starts.
If creating a graphic novel is something that interests you, I would definitely suggest giving it a try. The market is hot right now, especially with the appeal that graphic novels have for reluctant readers. Even schools are starting to use graphic novels in their curriculum, and their classrooms. Good luck in your endeavors, and as always, post questions or comments if you have them! I will try to answer all of them.”
In answer to the entry above, Victoria Dixon wrote this very useful bit of info:
“I’d have to object to the idea that there are not guidelines on how to write a graphic novel. There are at least two good ones I can think of: Scott McLeod’s “Understanding Comics” is the would-be graphic novelist’s bible, and his “Making Comics” is also a must-read. Alan Moore (Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, From Hell) has a How-to out, Will Eisner’s got two How-tos (Eisner did The Spirit comics), and there are others. I’d look through them and see what speaks to you, but DEFINITELY pick up “Understanding Comics” as it will walk you through why and how things work graphically AND in tandem with your brilliant story.”
Plus the writer’s website Litreactor has all of these entries regarding graphic novels and comics. If you’re anything like me though you won’t be doing stuff that costs money. So there you go. Hopefully soon I will know what I’m doing…P.S. Any artists out there? I’m serious…?