Hey! Those X-Ray glasses were legit!

When I was a kid, I loved comic books. I loved the stories filled with action and accompanied by drawings that seemed to jump off the page into my wide excited eyes. As I got older, I read books without the pictures. Instead, the writing drew the pictures in my head. The stories were the same though. These stories called Pulp fiction. I read writers like Richard Matheson, and Phillip K. Dick. I read Sci-Fi Anthologies, and collections of stories by Stephen King. These writers wrote the stories I liked. They came complete with dark stairs that lead to the basement where you knew the monster lived, but still you read.

bidtimereturn

They were stories about regular people who got taught lessons in life by supernatural characters. Some of the stories were funny, and always entertaining, and some were dark and scary. These made you think about all of those weird noises you heard late at night. “What was that…” Just the wind I guess.

These “Pulp” stories were the ones that made me want to become a writer. I would read these and try to weave my own ending, trying to figure out the conclusion before I got to the end of the story. Most times I was wrong, but I got better as I got older and read more.

Pulp fiction gets the least amount of credit these days. People look at it as not serious writing. They call these stories “Twilight Zoners” A term I have never understood because the twilight zone always told the best and most entertaining stories! I don’t think you would have the smash hit Stranger Things, or the oldie but goodie Lost, if it wasn’t for the Twilight Zone.

twilight-zone

Why do people read if they don’t want to be entertained? If you are reading a book so you can give it a review, or tell your friends you read it. Just so you can sound smart in certain circles… You have missed the point of reading fiction! You will never get that time back. The time you spent reading that boring book that some critic called a tour de force!

You get older and almost feel you will be shunned by the “serious readers” if you say your favorite writer is Stephen King. Hey, I’ve read Infinite Jest. David Foster Wallace was a great writer, and I loved that book. But as far as storytelling goes, he couldn’t hold a candle to Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return. You may know it as a movie called Somewhere in Time, starring a young Christopher Reeve, and Jane Seymour. Yes, Matheson wrote that. And he wrote many Twilight Zone episodes.

So before I get long winded, let me tell you why I wrote this. I wrote this because I have seen reviews that seemed to have missed the point. Reviews that called stories I loved, or wrote for that matter, “Twilight Zoners.” To which I have to say Thank you! I’ll take your three star “Twilight Zoner” Review. But what I want to know is, were you entertained? Did the story help you leave your hassle filled life just for a moment? Did you get to escape? Because that is all that matters.

Don’t be the person who doesn’t want to know if that Submarine in the back of the comic book really worked. You remember, the one for $6.98 plus postage.

submarine-ad

Don’t be the person who is too smart to believe those X-Ray glasses were just worthless pieces of plastic.

Be a kid! You don’t have to grow up if you will simply let yourself enjoy the story you are reading without critiquing it as you go. Not everything has to be Shakespeare. Who was a great Pulp fiction writer I might add. Yes, feed your brain, but don’t forget to have fun.

I write Pulp Fiction in these Anthologies. With other “Twilight Zoner” writers, of “Twilight Zoner” stories. If you would like to read and be entertained, you can pick up the latest Tales from the Canyons of the Damned.

tales9

Maybe it will remind you what it was like to read under covers with a flashlight late at night. You remember. Your mom told you to go to bed. You dutifully laid down. She kissed you on the cheek and said good night. She closed the door, leaving just a crack, so some light would come through. You waited for her footsteps to get down the hall. Reaching under your pillow, (never under the bed), and grabbed your flash light and latest edition of Tales from the Crypt. You read for hours, getting to the part where the Mummies hand is pushing back the large stone of his dusty grave.

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You hear a noise in your silent house… “What was that…?” Probably just the wind… 

Get Tales from the Canyons of the Damned No. 9

tales9

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Confessions of a Spoiled Indie Writer

Just write, and quit feeling sorry for yourself.

My mother was a writer. She wrote a couple of books, and many screenplays. All of them she submitted to publishers who turned her down usually with a very impersonal rejection letter. She would get the “it’s not what we are looking for,” or “you need to put this together the right way. Meaning she didn’t send her manuscript in a box, with the pages loose leafed. Back in those days you had to jump through many hoops just get your book read.

Later in her life she actually did sell a screenplay. It was a story about two couples who are opposites, end up getting the same hotel room by mistake, and have to stay in it together. Kind of like the Odd Couple on vacation. A few years later my mom succumbed to lung Cancer.

Where am I going with this…?

I guess my point would be how spoiled I am as an indie writer. I have published many short stories, a couple books, and I have been in an anthology. Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, maybe you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t you can get it here.

I guess the whole spoiled notion came to me while I was browsing Facebook. I’m friends with many authors on there, so I get to see lots of different insights through other authors eyes. Some are doing very well for themselves, while others… not so much. And it is the later few I want to talk about, and say this. Just the sole fact that your stories are being read is a miracle by past standards. Back in the day independent writers were looked at as the ones who couldn’t cut it. They were the weirdos with weird-looking books, and they were not taken seriously.  They were the old history teacher that would sit outside of bookstores and sell half assed copies of their books out of a trunk. They were your friend that would hound you to read their book.

We are spoiled now.

There are tools to make your book look professional. There is social media to get the word out. And there is ways to connect with fellow authors to get insight, and encouragement. So… Quit whining. We live in a time when the gatekeepers have been burned at the stake! You can write what ever you want. And even if it’s not that good someone will read it. It is the greatest time to be an author. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, and get writing.

My mother never had this chance. She died just a bit to soon. But she would have taken advantage of indie publishing, and she wouldn’t have complained once. She would have loved it. Because she would have been doing something she loved anyway… Writing.

THE POOL SERIES

The Pool

Sample from The Pool. This character is a son of a bitch.

Sample from The Pool. Coming soon to Amazon

” If you think you’re a step away from this dream, wake yourself up. Give your arm a pinch and see where that gets you.

You felt it didn’t you? You squeezed two fingers together, pushing nerve endings to close for comfort. But what can you prove from doing something so trivial and childish? Did you prove you were alive because you felt a mild sense of pain? When you sleep, have you ever known you were in a dream? Did you ever tell yourself to wake up. This is only a dream? Did it work? Are you starting to see?”

Time swirls brown liquid in a whiskey glass. Light from a single bulb catches a corner of the glass blinding your eyes. Setting up doubt in your mind. Making you realize… This is only a dream.

The Pool book cover 3

Ernie Howard

My 5 best Indie short stories picks of the past year, because tomorrows my birthday and I have been drinking!

My short story picks for 2015

Okay, I know I’m a little late to the table here but I’m feeling nostalgic as I sit in my writing room slash library… Actually it’s a walk in closet that my wife let me put a desk in, she’s a good lady. It works for me my friends, even when my old high school letter jacket is poking me in the ear! Go Eagles! JV Football undefeated!

Anywho… I’m a little late to the table to tell you my picks for the best short stories I read in 2015. Hey I was reading! Don’t bust my procrastinating balls!

I have been amazed, and my mind has been opened by these authors, and I feel like I need to share in all my fanboy glee! These writers are up and comers, and well established patch on the blazer word slingers.

You may be asking yourself right now, “So what Ernie! Why should we care what you think?” And my response to you would be, BECAUSE I READ! I have loved books since I was drinking Simalac and crapping my Huggies.

Soooo. Here are my story picks for 2015. These are not in any sort of favorite order, they are in Ernie’s been drinking a day before my birthday order. And not editing his blog post order. (By the way, if any of you have any last minute gift ideas for me… buy one of these books from these great authors, and tell them Ernie sent ya.

 

 

Magenta by Bob Williams

magentaBob Williams is a writer of many talents. His new novel, Music City Macbre is action packed and doesn’t give you a second to slow down. However! This is a blog about short stories, and short stories we shall have! Magenta is my choice.

The story is the picture of the perfect relationship. Loving wife, loving husband, dirty little secret that only the husband knows about. Yes folks, things aren’t always what they seem. This story reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode. It also reminded me of my own story, A World Without. Sorry for the shameless plug Bob, but you give me shit on Facebook all the time about not wanting to do the dishes.

Pick up Magenta Here>>> MAGENTA

Hugh Howey Lives by Daniel Smith

Hugh Howey LivesDaniel Smith is one of those well established types I was talking about earlier. He really doesn’t need my praise, but I am going to give it all the same.

Hugh Howey Lives is about a girl in a future where all of the books are written by Artificial Intelligence, except for one author. The amazing naked no clothes wearing, Hugh Howey.  I will say this book was written before Hugh took to the open sea wearing only his buccaneer boots and a smile. Which was tremendous precognition by Daniel. What I am trying to say here is, Daniel Smith is a psychic! I said it! He didn’t want his powers getting out, but I just couldn’t hold back! He knew Hugh would take to the sea, and be marooned on some weird island, drinking mixed drinks, hanging with beautiful women, and adopting every homeless animal he came across. Brilliant!

Pick up Hugh Howey Lives Here>>> Hugh Howey Lives

Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose

Zero HourEamon is an awesome writer, and a great guy. Why do I say he’s a great guy? Well, Eamon read my book The Light Through the Water and dug it. Then he personally messaged me on Facebook and said Hey great story, but I found these problems. After I got over my fits of despair and embarrassment he pretty much edited my  19 page short story in the span of an hour. An hour…? Oh ya! Zero Hour! Eamon is going to be a household name some day. The Zero Hour series reads like a fast paced video game. You feel like your the main character! Every time he puts out a new installment of this series I read it in one sitting.

Get Zero Hour here>>> Zero Hour

Piece of Cake by Patrice Fitzgerald, from The A.I. Chronicles

aiWhat can I say about the lady from Siberia always Talking about Huge Howley. I think she is from Siberia, all of her pics look like she is in a place that is freezing. She is a woman of mystery. Personally I think she’s a spy for the KGB. Are they still around?

Patrice’s story A piece of Cake in Samuel’s A.I. Chronicles is one of the funniest, and darkest stories I have ever read. What would you do if you couldn’t have a piece of cake!?! I think the main character would be me in the future. Running around looking for all the bootleg snacks. Trying to get my chocolate fix while being chased by health crazy bum outs.

Get A Piece of Cake Here>>> A Piece of Cake

The Traveler by Stefan Bolz, From The Time Traveler Chronicles

Time travelStefan’s Traveler hit me right in the feels. Which is crazy, because I never thought a man that could Karate chop your face off! Could write something so tender.

Anyone who has lost a loved one has fantasized about building a time machine and talking to them one last time. This story is about a little girl who loses her father at a young age. When her father was alive they built things together in his shop. He passes away, and what does she build? A time machine of course. Awesome classic story. Awesome writer. Awesome guy. Also pick up The Three Feathers by Stefan. I am about half way through it and it is eye opening.

Get The Traveler Here>>> The Traveler

Honorable Mentions. (Or in Ernie speak. “I am too tired, and a little buzzed to write anymore. Brain fuzzy from beer…)

Will Swardstrom, Contact Window

Samuel Peralta, Every Single Chronicles, (A.I., Cyborg, Time Traveler, etc.)

Nick Cole, The End of the World as We Knew it

Hank Garner, Mulligan

Susan Kaye Quinn, Restore

Well there you have it folks. My picks for 2015. This blog post is brought to you by- Ernie was to tired to edit, and I don’t care.

On a serious note, I was blown away by all of these indie authors. Indie publishing is near and dear to my heart, because I am one. Thanks for reading.

Ernie Howard is the author of The Light Through the Water, and A World Without, And a few others