Tag Archives: Killer on the Road

Words turn into pictures, when does it work?

Greetings again faithful readers,

(What can I say? I like old-fashioned phrases) I thought about what to say this month for a while. There are some big changes coming here at Distinguished Press but I ultimately decided this is neither the time nor the place. As for me, like everyone else I’m working on Xmas shopping (I buy what I can online), hoping snow doesn’t show up for a while (I lie, we’ve already had some here but thankfully it melted) and of course anxiously awaiting the new Star Wars movie (which I’ve had tickets for since October). Aside from all that I’m editing, doing blog posts, interviews and of course writing to you now.

WinterisComingStarWars

Which brings me back on point. With all the comic-book movies and TV shows I got to thinking, what is the successful formula for turning a book/comic book into a movie/TV show? I’ve seen hundreds of movies, my wife and I usually go at least 2 a month (often more) and I watch lots more on Netflix. If there’s a book I love, I often check to see if it was or will be made into a movie or TV show. I’m also a huge comic book fan, so the past 14 years it’s been a steady flow of comic book movie/TV shows/novelization movies, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to compare, admire and contrast.

LOTRTrilogyPoster

There are so many I can’t go through them all but I think I have to start with Lord of the Rings. This is perhaps the most well known fantasy novel series ever, they have been around for almost 80 years and have inspired countless writers, other stories, toys, authors and also an enduring (and immensely fun) game called Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve read and loved them since I was a child and studied them in high school and university. Suffice it to say I was very pleased to see them turned into movies.

When I watched them I knew I couldn’t help but compare them to the books, there were differences and changes I didn’t like. Overall though Peter Jackson did a marvelous job, I fell in love with the story all over again as I saw the people, creatures and stories I loved so much brought to life. Then there came the plan that the Hobbit (the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy) would be made into not one, not two but three movies!?!? For those that don’t know the Hobbit was written for Tolkien’s children, it was the shortest of the novels and certainly did not have enough material for three films.

Of course they said they would invent new material, take stuff from other Tolkien material and the appendices at the back the Hobbit, but really I knew the truth, 3 movies means a hell of a lot more money than 1. Don’t get me wrong I watched all three of them and I enjoyed them but I knew the truth, Jackson wanted get paid to do 3 movies and forced the story to fit. Sure the story of the Hobbit is there but it could have be easily told in 3-3.5 hours, not 8.

BooksVSMovies

Let’s take a different example where (at least so far) it wasn’t stretched out and an obvious example of Hollywood greed. I dearly love Batman (as you may know if you’re read my books The Newfoundland Vampire and Killer on the Road, both are on sale now for 99 cents!) and I was thrilled when my favorite comic-book story of his (well Frank Miller but you know what I mean) The Dark Knight Returns, would be made into an animated movie (I’m also very excited for the upcoming Batman VS Superman movie, which is also supposed to be loosely based on the comic). I loved this comic, I’ve read it many times and I think the movie (which was split into two parts as the comic is that long) was a masterpiece. I wouldn’t dare spoil the story if you’re unfamiliar with it, if you want to see story converted right into film, this animated movie is the one to see.

DarkKnightReturns

I had a big discussion on this with a friend of mine. What’s the best thing for a director/producer/movie company to do? Be extremely faithful to the source material or due your own interpretation? I think being too slavish to the book/comic can be a determent (though as a fan I love it when that actually happens). Some things are just not able to be filmed and I know that a movie is supposed to make money, in many cases the general public hasn’t read the book/comic and they don’t care how faithful it is. Then there are the big fans who will scrutinize the movie for not being close enough to the source (and I know I do that sometimes).  I think ultimately it’s a compromise between what is in the source material and what will work/be successful on screen.

To bring it home, what do you think about movies based on your favorite stories? Do you clamor for more or think enough is enough? I’m always willing to give them a chance and always want more. And I can dream, I know it would be a dream come true if one of my books was ever made into a movie/TV show/play. I know there would be changes but as long as the important parts stayed I’d be happy, well that is as long as I was getting paid…kidding! The struggle between creativity/integrity/money is a topic for another time, until then I’ll eagerly await Batman and catch up on a really good show based on a comic called Jessica Jones (which is on Netflix now, don’t let your young children see it though!). Until then I bid you all good night.

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“Advice is a form of nostalgia…

…dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.” That’s a quote from one of my all my favorite songs, “The speech song” by Baz Luhrmann. I’ve been listening to it since it came out in 1999 (and was even played on the radio a bit), if you ever get a chance, give it a spin. I’ve lived my life almost completely by that song (and I think I’ve done okay so far).

Hi everyone,

It’s  a cold, windy day here (there were flurries here this morning and it’s only October!). Halloween, Xmas shopping, Xmas and of course winter are fast approaching. People love the fall, not me, sure the leaves are pretty but I like hot, sunny weather anything else gets me down a little. But you’re not here to listen to me pontificate, today I’m going to talk about writers and advice, both giving and receiving.

KingAdviceWriting

I’ve done lots of conventions, given plenty of talks, been part of panels, book signings, book launches and book readings. I’d say the most common question I get is, “what advice would you have for a young/new writer?” (ok they didn’t say /new but I’m too OCD not to be complete). Say what you want about his writing, I think he gives great advice. He wrote a book just called “On Writing: A Memoir of the craft” and I highly recommend it. I would, however, also tell writers to, however, not get caught up in style books and writing handbooks and classes. If you want to do English in University then do it but there’s no substitute for writing and reading every day.

Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, the idea of a writer holed up in a dark corner spending years of his or her life working on a story with no input from others is (I hope) over with. Get to know other writers, I’d say in particular local ones. Local ones have the most time and interest (usually) to talk with you and are often very nice people. One of the best pieces of advice/encouragement I ever got was from a local author, one I had contacted when I finally got serious about writing.

HemingwayonWriting

I know that picture above is a little blurry. What Hemingway (someone else who gives good advice on writing) is saying is that you can’t just use your imagination. You have to experience life, I think some of the best writing I’ve done is based on places I’ve been and experiences I’ve had. The world is full of wondrous people, nature can be inspiring, a place, even just seeing how people live in other parts of the world does so much to broaden your mind. Sometimes I feel that not becoming a serious writer until I was 34 was a good thing, I was lucky enough to have a lot of experience to draw on.  Even now I find when I get back from a vacation I have an idea for a story or chapter, a place that needs mentioning or a person that would be fun to incorporate. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to use your imagination, spice up the world, exaggerate events, or just plain kill people (in your stories of course! That’s not illegal.)

What other advice do I give? I tell people to work hard, write what you love (and don’t write unless you love it), be patient and get plenty of feedback (among lots of other things.) I also say that for 99% of writers (probably more like 100) you have to have an editor. King talks about how you need you to have an ideal reader, the person you really write for (besides yourself). For me that is my editor, I eagerly await her reaction (I’ve had 4 female editors and 1 male). I’ve learned plenty from my editors (currently the wonderful Kathy, who did a wonderful job getting “Killer on the Road” in re-release, ship-shape, available in November!) about grammar, writing style and lots of other important author lessons.

AdvicefromCharacters

To finish up, the quote above is true. People who give you advice usually mean well, they’re trying to help. I’ve found though that often times people are limited by experience or simply don’t understand what kind of writer/person you are. So be careful taking any advice, don’t act rashly. Think out any big decision, I once had someone tell me I should get rid of my editor because she wanted me to change parts of the story. That guy had no clue how writing works and I ignored his advice. Writing, like anything in life, is a learning process. Learn what you can from others and pass it on. I’ll end with this, nothing you write is ever perfect. If you have the chance (and the interest) to improve on someone you wrote do it, you’ll be glad you did.

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Why do you write?

Greetings all,

I’m back from a wonderful holiday around BC (Canada) and a cruise to Alaska. If anyone is thinking about a trip to either of those places I’d highly recommend it (though maybe for Alaska to go in July or August) and tomorrow I’m off to a convention (about 6 hours away from where I live), so busy times! For this month, getting back on topic, I’d like to talk about why I write, it was something that came up at a convention and in Stephen King book I read (and is an important question for any writer I think.)

IWHandWriting

If you’re curious the book by Stephen King is called “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft“, I’d highly recommend any writer (or aspiring writer) check it out, if you don’t like King. Back on topic, I’ve always had a love of literature. It started (like lots of people I’m sure) with comic books (Archie and then superhero titles) and then novels (and some Hardy Boys and Choose your Adventure stuff). I love to be creative, at first I just wrote a journal but soon moved into short stories, poems and later novels.

IWwhy-we-write

The above reasons are (mostly) true but there are more. You write any story you’re in control, the characters, the plot, the setting, it’s a great feeling to write something exactly the way you want (well if you want to be published it might be a little different but close enough). To see your ideas come to life (even just on the page or screen) is a wonderful feeling and fills you with excitement. I do also hope that my writing has an affect on at least a few readers, I have strong ideas about the world and how it could be better and if other people feel the same, then maybe the world can be a little better. I wrote my first book The Newfoundland Vampire ( the sequel, Killer on the Road,  soon to re-released by my most excellent publisher, Distinguished Press, what? You knew I always put in a plug!)  because I had a story to tell and something to say and I’ll keep writing as long as that’s the case.

IWfeedback

I’ll admit there’s another reason, I’m needy, in particular I need feedback, comments (hopefully praise) and even constructive criticism (please don’t come up and just say you suck, I’ve had that happen and it stings). I think most writers are needy and crave attention, it’s a big reason of you why get stories publish (or self-publish). I am thrilled when I get a new review of a book (especially if it’s a good one and goes on for a more than a few sentences).  I had a book launch party and having everyone show up because they care about your writing (I did a reading there) is also an incredible feeling, I’m looking forward to having at least one more.

IWdo-it-because-you-love-it

Overall though, I write because I love do to it. I’d tell anyone that writing for the money is  bad idea, sure it’s nice to be rewarded but the money should never be the goal. I’ve read about that writing brings you joy, healing your mind and body and make you a better person. I don’t know if all those things are true but I know that if writing is a chore or all you see is dollar signs, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

What about you? Why do you write?

 

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My writing habits

Greetings once again all,

Summer is coming to close (for me in NL we’ve had maybe 4 weeks of summer weather but such is life here) and like when any season ends I get a little reflective. This month I thought I’d talk about my writing habits/process. Every writer has their own way of being creative, here’s my story (and details.)

For me writing is a time to relax, to dream, to fantasize about mythical creatures and imagine how my life could have turned differently if I had made different choices. I know some people can write in public places with all sorts of noise and people around but for me I need quiet, solitude and something to look at. I also find that generally I am at my most creative in the morning. My best writing occurs when I’ve had a good night’s sleep, get up at 6 or 6:30 and start writing by 7 or 7:30 AM. (Unless I’m on vacation, then it could certainly be later.)

WritingAtaTable

I also find that I need an outline. I like to have a clear idea of where I’m headed in a story so I always plan a novel at least two or three chapters ahead of time. (For book 3 “The Gathering Dark” it was the whole book, now for book 4 “War of the Fangs” about 12 chapters). Before I write I have a look at my outline (especially if I’m at the end of a chapter). Also at least once a month I look over the tips my esteemed editor, Kathy, gave me from book 2 ( and I try to keep in mind all I’ve learned from Karyn as well). I find that generally I only write in short bursts, 30-45 minutes tops then I’ll look out the window, possibly check my e-mail or pet one of my cats if they happen to be on the table with me. Generally I do most of my writing at home but sometimes I use my iPad for on the go. As I mentioned above if I have the time (and my laptop) I have also been known to write on vacation, in airports, at conventions and on weekend trips around the province (I live in Newfoundland, if you want to visit somewhere different, you should come . . .  in August or September only!).

LaptopWriting

With my first book published (by the wonderful people at Distinguished Press), I also find it useful to keep a copy of “The Newfoundland Vampire” nearby, it serves as both an inspiration and a guide as I work on further installments (there will be at least 4, after that, we’ll see). For me I try to write about places that I’ve been (or wish I’d been) and either way I like to look at pictures of that place before I write the scene, sometimes I read histories of a building or a town (for me info about my research methods for writing go here). As the main character, Joseph, is about 90% me, it is always a lot of fun to revisit these places in my mind and see how I would act differently in my imaginary world. For some scenes I try to imagine the whole thing in my head and then get it down on the screen as accurately as possible.

WritingStruggle

When it comes to personal preference, I find I enjoy writing the sex, action and humor scenes the most. Action scenes in particular get me excited and then they writing comes faster. A friend of mine gave me a tip to just set a simple goal, write one page a day every day. I found this very helpful as even one page, single spaced, means a chapter done in a week and of course some days I get inspired and do more Thumbs up.

WritingWithOldPen

The best scenes for me just fly out of my brain and I worry about cleaning up dialogue, punctuation and grammar at later time. While I’m certain writing could be taken with a scientific approach for me its artistic expression and the best way I have to communicate my ideas and feelings to the world. I read once you should write drunk and edit sober, I’m certainly not going to encourage drinking but writing drunk can be fun 😉  I hope you do something creative today and let me know you thoughts. What writing habits do you have? What scenes are the most fun to do? Do write better at certain times of the day? Inquiring minds want to know! Have a good one all, talk to you next month.

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Judge a book by it’s cover

Hi again all,

I’ve had a fair amount of experience with book covers. Two different companies and a bunch of artists/cover designers. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and I don’t believe in spreading negativity, so for that reasons some names will be left out. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case I think the covers can speak for themselves.

NewfoundlandVampire-coverFRONT700.jpg Here’s the cover for the first book (published in 2012 by Penumbra Publishing). There are parts of it I’m happy with (the blood red sunset, the water, Cassandra and the obvious vampire traits.) I’m not much pleased with Joseph or what he’s wearing. Newfoundland is an island so the water is fine (and some important scenes do take place on a rocky beach). After hearing lots of comments on it (and people who said it was terrible) I came to see that it gives an impression. It often makes people think of a romance novel (and a cheesy one) and all the things that go along with it. While there is romance present in the story, I don’t like people to get the wrong idea and not take my work seriously. Let’s move on to the cover for book 2.

 

 

 

NewfoundlandVampire2-coverFRONT  This time I took a much different approach, I paid a guy to make a cover for me (and I don’t mind saying it cost almost $300). He did many versions of this (at least 30) until the cover had to be sent it or the publishing would have been delayed. This came out in September of 2013, also by Penumbra Publishing. I’ll just call the designer Alex, he was agreeable and made many changes as I asked him to and tried lots of different things. He thought I should pick out a scene from the book that was important and created a creepy atmosphere (I picked an abandoned amusement park in New Orleans). I found some real pictures of it from a website (there was no one I could ask permission from) and he incorporated them to my satisfaction. What didn’t occur to me at the time was that the title “Killer on the Road” has nothing do with the cover. I also never thought about how much is going on, looking back I can see it looks jumbled. I do like the eyes above and I thought Cassandra looked even better than book 1 (these are both real people after all). I thought he did her fangs and the blood well, I liked Joseph face hidden almost completely in shadow. I also thought the splashes of blood were cool. The moon above was a nice touch a subtle nod to time passing (as book 1 was a sunset). Still though I wanted something different, which brings us to an attempt I made getting a cover done for book 3.

 

NFLVthumbnail  Here’s the rough draft I got for what could have been the cover to book 3 (tentatively called) “The Gathering Dark.” This time I wanted to try hiring an artist to do something with no stock images and nothing computerized (aside from scanning and minor alterations of course). I’ve been told this looks terrible and while I think it needs work, it has potential. He incorporated what I wanted, each character ready to fight at an airport (St. John’s in particular) in the background, the moon large in the sky (and it would have been blood red), and different characters reflected in each sword. Casandra’s hair is different and their looks are meant to convey that events have taken a dark turn in the story. The artist was a nice guy but ultimately he just said he was too busy to go any further (he never asked for any money in advance.) At this point I decided to leave Penumbra Publishing so this brings us full circle for a look at the new cover for book 1.

NLVampireDPCoverRough Vanessa (Armada West) has been working diligently on a new cover for me now that I’m with Distinguished Press (and I love it here by the way, everyone is great!) What you see here is just a rough mock-up but I like the direction it’s going. Once again I wanted a red sunset and this time I choose a university building (it was a dorm in the book) as the backdrop (several important scenes happen on campus). Cassandra looks great (no vampire traits here) and Joseph is fine but I’m looking for a better model to choose from. This is a return to photo stock images but it’s not costing me $300 and Vanessa has been very accommodating. I’ll be sure to share a more finished version of the cover when it is ready. I still may one day pay an artist for something really different but not for the re-issue of book 1 or 2. Oh I should say book 1 will be out April24th and book 2 will be July 24th (of 2015) and of course from the fine folks at Distinguished Press.

 

 

NLVampireRoughCover2

Here’s another version of the cover for book 1, this time I choose a different male model, I like him better as he looks more like me (and a regular guy). You’ll notice Cassandra also has fangs and some blood about her lips. It’s an ongoing process but I’m excited for the final version.

So what do you all think? They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but I think most people do. You can’t help it, a cover is your best form of advertising for anyone browsing in a store or on a website (or app). Talk to you all next month!

 

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Diaper Parties and books, what will they think of next?

Greetings and salutations all,

This is my first post at the IWAssociation and as a proud member of the Distinguished Press author family. They have been wonderful so far, very welcoming and fun to talk with. I’ve got a great new editor (and owner) and have already made some new friends. Enough about DP though onto my post.

About a month ago I went to a diaper party, what a diaper party some of you may be asking? (I know what it is because I’ve been to a bunch) Let’s see what the good old interwebs has to say:

“This is the male equivalent to a baby shower. When the mother of the child has a baby shower, the father of the child has a Diaper Party, at which his buddies (usually the significant others of the women attending the baby shower) bring cases of diapers and beer.

Hey man, is your Diaper Party the same day as the baby shower?”

women-history-month-sports-no-interest   The above is from urbandictionary.com and it sums it up. It’s the male version of  baby shower, here’s the problem I’ve had, all my friends are geeks. As such I’ve  never had a very good time at any of them. Yes I know what you’re thinking, maybe that’s more my fault than theirs but let me give you an example of how they can get weird from a brief recount of the one I went to last month. So a friend of my brother’s (and I guess a casual friend of mine) who we’ll call Bill invited me to his party. I brought diapers but no beer (I had been at a party the night before and was more than a little hungover) and it wasn’t a BBQ. You know how you have friends that you only see once, twice or maybe three times a year? Bill is that kind of friend for me. So I went and as expected the hockey game was on (Bill’s a geek but a lot of people he invited aren’t). I have zero interest in sports, at least watching, I’ve haven’t followed a team since high school and couldn’t care less about the Olympics or any playoff/championship game. There was food but of course I’m a vegetarian (no one else there was) so about 90% was not what I would eat. To make this party even more strange is the fact that his parents are there (he doesn’t live at home but this is where the party was held) and they invited all these people in their 50-60s who are all bikers. I knew maybe 6 people there out of 30. All this adds up to a rather boring time for me, at least for the first few hours.

(I couldn’t find a picture of a guy who didn’t like sports but it’s okay, I’m a lot cuter than her 😉 So as I’ve noticed during parties after a while when the early birds leave (or in this case they really out of place biker people trying to social with people 30 years younger than them) break into smaller groups where people chat more. This one guy came in the room and started talking about TV shows (in particular Game of Thrones, which is amazing by the way!) books and movies. Naturally my geek antenna went up and once I had my chance I worked my way into the conversation. We had a nice chat about geeky stuff (there’s a ton of comic books movies these days and lots of good TV). Bill felt his social duties to mix with the rest of party ended and he came in too (I quite like Bill if you’re wondering, I’m just not a family man and I find you naturally spend time with childless couples rather than those with them). Eventually we started talk about books and in particular horror ones (which I am something of an expert on).

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We both agreed that “The Dark Tower” (by Steve King of course, if you didn’t know that you may be on the wrong website!) starts off wonderful but eventually turns to almost unreadable garbage (King basically admits that he pumped out the last two books because he thought he was going to die after a bad accident). And no I haven’t read the latest one (which actually takes place earlier in the series) and yes the comics are generally top notch so I don’t condemn everything with “Dark Tower” on it. I finally found a chance to start talking about my books (“The Newfoundland Vampire” books 1 and 2) and I handed out a bookmark (now double sided!). I don’t know if he’ll buy a copy (I don’t remember his name, I’m terrible with them) but I think I made a good impression. (You know I was going to work a plug in here somewhere!) I always like to hear people’s perspective on vampire books/movies/TV shows in particular as I’m in the editing process for the re-issue of book 1 at my new publishing home Distinguished Press and this should hopefully be available right sometime in July of 2015.

So if you’re at a crappy party by advice would be drink more (if you’re of age and get a ride home of course) or just stick it out and wait for the people you want to chat with. As for diaper parties…they’re not going away here in Newfoundland and at least I can buy the biodegradable ones, plus I find there’s always a few geeks everywhere I go.

Have you been to a diaper party? What did you think of it? Until next time everyone!

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