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How things have changed

Things have changed since I have grown up. The world has gotten a little more digital and a little less understanding. When I was younger, it was a time when people helped other people. Someone having trouble like a flat or trouble with their car, someone would stop and help. Today that is a risk. I read of someone being attacked and killed or abducted almost every day. What has happened?

Oh, there are still a few good people out there not to sound like a griper. But they have become far and in between. They talk about the me generation. It is still that way. I want it before you can get it and I ‘ll do everything in my power to get it. Such a waste. It’s simple greed I guess and we all have a degree of greed. Don’t say we don’t. I have encountered this in many a place in the past few years. Take for instance the so-called Black Friday.

People lining up in front of stores and then stampeding through the doors to get those one of a kind bargains. Sometimes fights breaking out. Better to go after the rush I think. If you miss out, too bad. Usually the store will have more brought in, but at a higher price because the demand is high. Talk about price gouging!

On a lighter note, I have started a new novel. This one called The house on Shadow Hill. Yes, it’s a supernatural novel with a twist of Lovecraft in it. If you don’t know who Lovecraft is, then shame on you. He wrote weird fiction back in the thirties and forties to sell to the pulp (cheap for the general public) magazines. I have read about all his stories and have marveled at the way the man can bring a chill to one’s spine without describing the horror the main character is experiencing.

He hints at it, causes the mind to imagine what it must look like and sometimes the mind can imagine better than the writer can describe. Some have told me he is a hard read. Yes, he is sometimes very wordy but if on can stick with it, one can be chilled to the bone without all the blood and guts some writers seem to write.

Mind you, sometimes blood and guts is the way to go. But only toward the end and very little of it. I have gone for the gorse out a few times. Mostly because it fit the story. When possible though, I creep up on the reader with the horror, creep up and then hint at what is coming. I find that sometimes, that makes the story. Chills the blood and makes a shiver crawl up the spine.

Tis my way with the supernatural gene. As for the detective stories, my main characters are always tough guys, shoot first and ask questions later. as for villains, they must be as nasty as possible. Ruthless, with no morals and no qualms about killing. A villain one must hate and want to see destroyed badly.

This is my writing style. One some authors say is haphazard and not right. I am a punster, a seat of the pants writer. My characters carrying the story as it is written. No notes, only names jotted down in case they are mentioned later in the story. This is how I write. This is me and no one can change that.


Rejections aren’t the end.

I have heard many writers say they don’t know why they even try. Why they keep producing and producing and nothing seems to sell. Some blame the publishers. Call them assholes and idiots. They wouldn’t know a good story if it stared them in the face. Well, yes they do.

I’ve been writing since 1984 and have suffered the rejection bit many times. It is frustrating to say the least. You work hard on a story that you enjoy and then submit. After a few weeks (most of the time it is months) and a rejection comes in the email saying thanks for submitting but the story is just not right for our magazine. Bummer? Yes. But not the end.

Back when I started pounding the keyboards, there were many small press magazines to submit to. My stories were mostly supernatural tales and there were a boat load of those magazines in existence. Some gave me the form reject and sent my story back, (that was in the mail the hardcopy days. SASE envelope sent with the hardcopy so they could send it back with a rejection).

In those early days, I acquired a whole desk drawer full of rejections. Some standard, some with a bit of help on what was wrong with the story. Especially one Supernatural magazine called The Horror Show. The editor publisher must have seen something in my writing and critiqued every story I sent him. He was a big help in making my writing stronger and easier to read.

I sold two in those days (both magazines out of print) and was very happy. One was a freebie, the other I got paid four dollars for which made me happy because, it might not have been much but it  made me a published-paid writer. Personal problems took me away from the keyboards for a while. Life can do that if you let it but it was my second wife who, after reading those two tales, asked my why I wasn’t still writing. I had no answer for her and she informed me that if I didn’t start again, she would kick my ass.

I did, and the first story I wrote, One for Black Pedals called Dust to Dust, was accepted. No pay but I was back on track again. After that, there were still rejections. I was still paying my dues so to speak. I had switched from supernatural to hard-boiled detective stories but still wrote the occasional supernatural tale from time to time.

By then, the small press magazine market was smaller. Not the usual mega listings that had been around when I first started. Especially in the detective field. So, I turned my detective short into a novel and published it myself. In fact, a small press company named Paperback Press published the book for me. It was self publishing, my book, three of them in a series, placed on Kindle and did fine.

I’m no salesman though, my marketing skills them not up to par. Nonexistent really. Still, the book did okay so I can’t complain except to myself for not marketing the book better. Such is the way things go. I have now realized (with advice from a friend) that I need to treat my writing as a business. Do social media more. Blog and keep in touch with my readers.

Which is what I am doing now. as to the rejection. Every writer will experience it. Even the best get shot down at some time or the other. My advice, put your ego on the back burner. Listen to what editors tell you is wrong with the story and fix it. Don’t think that your story is the best ever written. It isn’t. Rejection is what is called paying your dues and if you listen to those that call out your faults in the story, then your writing will grow and someday, a check will come in the mail. It might not be much but you can claim the honor of being a paid author.

Waiting is the pits!

Haven’t done a lot this week. Mostly mulled around on where my second book is going to go and waiting for agent replies. I have gotten a few since I have started querying them but very few. I also receive a email form a fellow who will, for a fee, help you get an agent to get published. his name escapes me but if I remember right, the fee is more than this poor boy can afford so I guess I will just lope along and see if someone will take a chance on me.

My second book in the Jake Jacks series is moving along. I have had some down time to think where it is going and what new characters to introduce. It involves a past character from the first book (if it ever gets published, lol) and some characters past characters that bite the dust. Some readers hate this when characters they love take a nose dive into the grave but I feel that this is sometimes necessary.

Opens up an avenue to introduce new characters to the story line and sometimes new villains that you can love to hate. Of course, the main characters will not change, well, not much anyway. Also, and I may have mentioned this before, I’m thinking of trying my hand at an adventure story. One set in the twenties and thirties when explorers haunted the ancient lands in search of riches or how ancient cultures lived.

I do have a story coming out sometime using this same story line. it will be published by Crimson Streets and is called, The Scarab of Kadar. I love writing about the past. The adventurers who risked life and limb to acquire an archeological find or just to raid the tombs of their treasure. A lot of stories have been written about this over the years but most are long forgotten, except for the movies which sometimes use adventure stories past published for their plots.

If one is an avid reader like I am, one will see the hints for past writers in these movies. The entertainment value is in the story though, especially if one can read the written word to see where the movie drifts away from. Anyway, I’m just rambling today. Not much to tell as nothing exciting has come my way. I hope soon, some agent will take me on, read my story and sell it to a publisher. That would be a kick wouldn’t it?

I have no doubts there is one somewhere who will do this so I will keep plugging along and hope this will happen before I’m seventy. Lol. Either way, I’m committed and that is all that counts.

Diving into the unknown

Definition of unknown; unfamiliar, not identified.

Or my definition; sending off query letters and sweating it out for a reply.

It’s that way with almost anything we do these days. Waiting, hoping and then finding out maybe you are accepted or not. It is a crap shoot but it is one that is worth the time. For me anyway. I think being a writer is the worse. Some might disagree but in the writing field, waiting and hoping and getting rejection after rejection is what makes them give it up.

I have received a lot of rejections. At one time I had a desk drawer fill of them. That was back in the days when hard copies were the only submissions magazines took. Some where very helpful. The editor telling you what you did wrong and telling you to try them again. I call this a foot in the door. They are interested but you need to work on tweaking your manuscripts.

They see something in your writing. A promise that in time, you might just make the grade. Some writers don’t listen. Take recently, I sent a story to Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine. in a couple of weeks I got an email from them rejecting the story but the editor told me he felt it started in the wrong place. I took his advice and reread the tale and sure enough, he was right. I corrected it and am still tweaking it for the next submission.

Some are helpful. Others just send a standard rejection. Thanks for submitting but the story just isn’t right for our magazine. I can understand this type of rejection because they receive thousands of stories a month. Some good, some horrid. Still, if they see the spark, even then they will give you a hint of what is wrong. Listen to those who do respond. Take their advice and soon you will get in published.

As of late, I have started my second Jake Jacks book even though I am still trying to get an agent to sell the first. The first Jacks novel is about a ex-cop, ex-drunkard turned private eye who does business out of a strip club. The setting is in a half factious, half real city on the north side of town. It is mob ran, the cops only coming when there is a murder or when they are made to patrol the streets.

Even then they do only a drive through, log in they’ve been there and head back up town. The story involves a terrorist group, an Interpol agent and the FBI. I just hope an agent will see the potential of the book. If not, then there is always self publishing as I did with my first three books. They are available on Kindle under the pen name Ike Keen.

Here is a little sample of  Trace, one of my published novel. A body has been found in the river by two lovers taking a dip to cool off.


The night was hot, especially by the river. The temperature hadn’t dropped much, hovering between the upper eighties and lower nineties and the humidity was thick, almost like breathing the river itself. Doc Pace was giving her the once over when we got there, him and his assistant having laid her on a rubber tarp. The only reason you could tell she was a female was shoes she still had on, ankle strapped and open toed high heels, the rope having covered them and keeping the fishes from nibbling at them.
Pat was over talking to the two kids who had found her, both wrapped in blankets and barely dressed. I figured they were having a midnight swim among other things and this midnight swim would be with them for a long time.
“Not much to go on,” Pace said standing and stripping the rubber gloves from his hands, “Just the shoes, the rest of her is pretty much gone ID wise so unless I can get some prints or she had dental work done here in the city…”
“Any idea how long she has been there?” I asked him. Doc shook his head.
“Hard to tell, maybe two, three weeks from the way the fish have been at her,” he said. Most of the flesh had been stripped off her face and she was bloated, bits of flesh hanging loose and her eyes were gone.
“Those two the ones who found her?” I asked.
“Couple of lovers, they decided to have a little midnight swim in the buff and lover boy dove under to surprise his true love and got a surprise himself,” Doc said.
I bit back a crude remark pertaining to surprises and pulled a cigar out of my shirt pocket, lighting up and watching Doc’s assistant wrap the body up, his face pale and his gag reflex weak. Pat came wandering over after taking with the two youngsters, shaking his head and chuckling.
“What’s funny?” I asked as he stepped up beside me.
“Those two,” he said making one last entry in his notebook and then stowing it in his coat pocket, “When I asked the guy about what he saw under the water he told me it sure wasn’t what he expected to see.”
“What about the girl?”
“She said she didn’t see anything, she was too busy dragging her boyfriend to the bank to keep him from drowning. She said he was screaming like a girl and thrashing around as she pulled him in. That was when the argument started; I don’t think he’ll be seeing her again.”
I chuckled and looked out at the river, the moonlight shining on it and making it look like black glass it was so still. There were no night sounds, just a deep quiet, or should I say a dead quiet. Yeah, a dead quiet, the crickets and frogs and other night creatures knowing what had happened and were silent. I shivered and walked to where Pat was talking to Doc, Doc telling him he would do what he could to ID the body but couldn’t guarantee anything.
As the wagon pulled away, I spotted the two reporters from the diner running toward us, Pat groaning and shaking his head. I stepped back as they skidded to a halt in front of Pat, both babbling questions a mile a minute and Pat listening, his only answer being “no comment”. I chuckled and walked back toward Pat’s car, looking back over his shoulder and getting a dirty look from Pat as I leaned against and waited for the two reporters to run out of steam and give it up.
Some might say it is a little too graphic in my description of the body but crime is not pretty folks so for them, live with it. I also like to write the occasional supernatural tale. Lovecraft is my favorite read along with Robert E. Howard and various other writers of the macabre. As far as detective stories, I like the ones written in the thirties and forties. The ones that appeared in the pulp magazines that were the poor man’s read.

I do have a few of them but they are beginning to crumble with age so I read them carefully, lol. I love to write and read as you can see. Maybe in time, I will make the grade. All one can do is keep on pounding the keyboard and hoping.





Writing is a career, not a hobby

I have been at this business of writing since 1984 and it gaul’s me when someone says ‘Oh, that’s a nice hobby for you’. I want to strangle them and then bury them in the back yard. Lol. A hobby is something that you do in your spare time. A relaxer that takes you away from all the worldly things that grind you down every day.

In a sense, so is writing but not in the sense that one can do it only occasionally. Being a writer, I will set down at the keyboard a few hours every day. I might write only a page or two then the next day, I might write five or ten. There is no rush like with other careers when one must meet a dead line to keep the boss off their back. You are your own boss and being that boss you must keep the product going or things slow down.

I have had some of those days. Some where I don’t even touch the keyboard. But that haunts me, makes me uneasy and disappointed that I am not producing but procrastinating. Yes, other things sometimes take away from that production. I am a avid shooter. I target practice every Sunday and sometimes, when finances allow, on Saturdays. Still, I find someway to get back to the keyboard. To slip into my characters minds and tell a good story.

I have many ideas, some I get down on the digital page, others I keep on the back burner for future reference. Either way, I will either use that thought for a full-blown book or a short. I produce and I do it because it is fun. I love to tell a story. Pit people in different situations and lead them into the darkness of evil and then find a hole for them to crawl out of and save the day.

But not before then themselves are either caught in a jam or nearly killed. The hero must prevail either way. My heroes are the kind that usually blast their way out of dangerous situations. Knocking off the bad guys and coming out on top. Not always in good health but in reasonable shape. In the real world this isn’t always the case and in the real world, there are consequences. That is why people read fiction. To escape the real world and do the things they wish they could do.

Save the day and such. That is the career I am pursuing. The escape I am providing for those who wish to imagine they could do. A hobby? Not hardly. It is a passion and I plan to keep doing it until I am old and gray.

Some days are just not made for waking up.

Well, here it is, another Monday. When I was a working man, I dreaded them. They meant that it was another week of being under the thumb of some moron boss who figured he was smarter than you were and didn’t care to tell you so. Worked unde a lot of guys like that. especially after I had put in 25 years of custodial and doing just about all that a custodian was required to do.

Then I retired. Yes, I was offered an early retirement from the school system and I took it. 2006 it was and I left the drudgery of pushing a broom behind. It was okay for a while but like most retired people, money was tight and I did work a few jobs to make ends meet. My second wife, who has passed away three years back was the one who got me back into putting words back on the page.

I had the time, I mean, even working, I still found time to pound the keyboard and came up with a hard-boiled detective novel which was self-published on Kindle and did well for a while. In fact, I published three through a small press publisher and they did, like I said, for a while. Now I am no marketer nor am I a salesman. So after a while, sales dropped and only a few books were bought.

I decided that self-publishing wasn’t for me. I mean, if I do get an agent, then there will be some selling myself to the public I know, but I hope that with luck and what fan base I have, I can have someone do the marketing for me. You know what I mean, the publicity part. I do like to socialize with people, that is something I like but being on a fixed income is a bitch and I have to watch my money carefully to last me to the end of the month.

still, I do write a post on Facebook and am a member of LinkedIn so I do try to keep in touch with my readers and others. But at this moment, I’m in a slump. No new ideas have popped into the gray matter of mine as of late. There are a few hits at times, but most of them play out before they even get on the page. Writer’s block? Naw, just being preoccupied with other things.

As of late, I have been target practicing with a pistol to get my aim better and I guess I spend too much time at this. Maybe I can work this into a story but as of late, nothing have jelled. I also like to listen to scanners and my radios. Sometimes stories come from these and I write them down for future reference.

Also, I wonder what the hell this world is coming too. People are not as they were a few years back. One has to watch everywhere they go. One eye on what you are doing and the other on what may be going on around you. Most of it is the economy and the joblessness that people face. Companies laying off because they say business isn’t good when in reality, they have just become greedy.

Not making enough money to fulfill their wants. I’m a poor boy. Have been all my life. Oh, it’s not to say I don’t have a few luxuries but even if I did make a fortune, I would probably live as I have all these years. Just spending very little and making my life comfortable. Money is not the answer to everything. In fact, it can be a person’s downfall.

I have read that most people of money are miserable. Maybe they should send some of that misery our way, lol. The world has changed a lot since I was a kid and it will keep changing. Nothing can be done about it unless people decide to do it. Once that happens, maybe the old ways will return. But I doubt it and to be honest, I think it has been this way for a long time. Even past my generation. Now, there is more media, more news coverage along with the invent of the smart phone which can record anything that happens.

On a lighter note, I’m still plodding away at finding an agent. Sooner or later, one of them will take a chance on me and maybe my author’s career will be off and running. I have a few stories in mind, I just need to get back on track and write them. Submit them and keep at it. Maybe next blog, I’ll be a little more cheerful. Who knows what a week will bring.

Another day, another dollar

Well, nothing new to report on the publishing front. No answers from agents or publishers. Sometimes this is discouraging then I look back and see how many short stories and the three novels I published and I see that one must pay their due and wait. The wait is hard though and it sometimes causes the creative processes to stagnate. I know this for a fact as of late, I have been searching for something to write about and have come up with nothing.

Well, almost nothing. A few ideas have been rambling around in my head and I do believe one is about to germinate. Either way, the cool season is coming which makes it prime weather for writing. I mean, what has one to do when the temps drop and being inside is the only thing one is able to do. Not the only thing I guess but it is an option.

I do like to get out and target practice. Especially when the temps are below eighty. I also like to go outside with my dog and let him wander around for a while, listening to the sounds around me and thinking. Boring right? But good ideas usually come from these times. Good stories and characters. The thought processes loosen up and then, in a flash, the story comes.

I have had another incident with the dreaded you have a virus scam. Beware of this. They had stooped to sending it in emails of place you belong to. They now want your email address and phone number. Plus a woman’s voice has replaced the mans. I just shut my comp off and reboot it because no matter how you try, they have this scam locked on your screen. The only way to get rid of it rid of it is to reboot. Also, I run a virus scan to make sure.

Hopefully, I will snag an agent soon. I need to send out some more query letters and maybe contact some publishers. I’ll do this over the week and see what happens. I’ll give it to the end of the year and some. If I don’t get a bite, I might consider the self-publishing again. All things considered, my three previously published novel did all right. I just wasn’t a good marketer. This I will have to work on. As I was told by another writer, another writer was having the same troubles and when he started considering his works as a business, things got better.

Maybe this is the key. I’ll have to consider it. Well, I’ll keep the faith and trudge along. Maybe, with a lot of hope, I’ll land an agent or a book deal. Who knows?