The First Paragraph

This is the first paragraph of my latest. Have a look at Melody 8. Remember that this is unedited.

 

My mother used to sing to me when I was scared at night. When shadows, in corners turned into drooling creatures who wanted to eat me. When the wind wasn’t just benign air, but a drooling demon bent on eating my soul, and my body, bit by sweet bit. I’d lay my head on her chest to feel the vibration of her singing. The song would come out in low tones and hurried breaths, and just slightly off-key. I always thought my mother’s inability to hold a perfect tune made the song better. It was as if mom had put her own touch on the song she’d chosen to sing. Her voice made pleasing chills go down my spine, and make my skin turn to goose pimples. I’d burrow deeper into the blankets smiling into my pillow. Mama would end the song and ask if I wanted to hear another one. If I was asleep she would plant a kiss on my head. The moisture and the soft smack of my mother’s lips would wake me up just enough to see her walking out of my room. Most times I wasn’t asleep, and I’d answer with a muffled yes that came deep from my pillows and blankets. Mama would answer with the same response every time. “Okay smart one.” I never knew why she called me this, and it’s funny to look back now and realize, I’d never asked her why she called me smart one.

I loved the sound of my mother’s voice. All the way up to the day she was put to death because of it.

Get Melody 8

MELODY 8 (6)

Write, Create, Show Up

“The chief enemy of creativity is good taste.” – Pablo Picasso

Write, Create things. There are no rules, and anyone who tells you that there are rules… Isn’t doing anything. But what do I know? Well, nothing. But I shouldn’t let that stop me from writing, or creating something.

My problem used to be I was worried about what people would think of something that I wrote. It would suck, or I’d miss spell a word, or screw up on grammar. Then they would come out of the woodwork! They would hunt me down with their torches and pitchforks. Sneering and pointing and laughing. I would get this in my head, and guess what would happen? Nothing. I would write nothing. Like most people I was asking for permission from people who usually didn’t exist, or just didn’t matter.

The most horrible times in my life were not when people were critical of my work. The times I felt the most horrible was when I wasn’t creating anything at all. When I was frozen because of something someone was going to say. I was forgetting the most important rule to being successful with creativity. Actually doing something creative!

So for a while now I have been taking my own advice. I write everyday. I try to be creative everyday. Some of the things I write might be shit, and some of it is going to be great. People don’t remember the shit anyway. I am showing up, and creating.

 

The Life of Ants

thelifeofants

Blinded by our arrogance

Aliens wouldn’t waste their time on us.

Why haven’t aliens come to talk to us?

The short answer is we are too stupid for them to waste their time on. Do you try to talk to ants?

My question is, what if they have been trying to contact us for years but they just can’t get through to us. How would they go about it. More than likely anything they tried would scare the crap out of us. Their means of communication would be so foreign to us it would look like something out of a horror movie. Being the jumpy species that we are with our ancient reptile brains, we would likely see a threat rather than a handshake.

After contact they would probably leave us to ourselves rather than give us any knowledge they know about the universe, and our own planet. They would simply give up and move on. I think these being would have something better to do. Why talk to some idiots who don’t know what they are capable of and don’t have the brain power to even figure it out. They would find us… Well… boring.

So… enter my twist. I write stories. And the story of contact with aliens can’t end on, “Oh they were boring.” Here is an alternative story. The Life of Ants.

The Life of Ants by Ernie Howard

thelifeofants

 

Pre-Order on Amazon.

They don’t hear it. Keep writing!

Get ready to go it alone. Get ready for the endless barrage of people telling you just how crazy, and irresponsible you are even if there are actual people who make a living doing exactly what you are trying to do. Get ready for the people closest to you putting it down, and telling you that you have not made a dime. Get ready to be misunderstood. Do you got all that?

Okay. Keep fucking writing. Keep chopping wood. Keep making words. Write! Write like your life depends on it. Because it does! Writing for you should be like breathing. At least it should if you want to do anything with it. If you want to make a living in this business you should not just want to write, you should HAVE to write. Write because if you don’t you will go crazy. Write because if you don’t it’s like not being able to sit down after a long day of labor intensive work. Write because it is the center of who you are.

Do not listen to anything other than what your own heart tells you. Write everyday and put it out into the world.

I keep chopping wood. Get my books click the link

Get The Tales from the Canyons of the Damned series!

tales

 

I was on The Leighgendarium Podcast

Just recently I had the honor of being on Preston Leigh’s 30-Minute author interviews. It was actually more like two and a half hours, but Preston painstakingly edited it down to 50 minutes. Check out The Leighgendarium here. And check out my interview with Preston below.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

5 Resources for Self-Editing

Editing… Ugh! Editing anything can be a daunting task. As a indie writer on a tight budget I have to edit all of my own stuff first before I send it to anyone else. I do this to cut costs, and to not look like the blithering, grammar challenged ding dong that I am behind closed doors. Putting out your writing can be a very scary task when you don’t know if all of your letters on the page are in the right order, and have all of their little symbols in the right spot.
It has been said that editing is the most important part of the writing process, and I couldn’t agree more. If you’re into percentages, I would say your actual writing is about 15 percent of the process, and editing takes up the other 85 percent. I spend more time editing than I do actually writing my stories. Fortunately we live in a time where the internet is chock full of resources for our problems. Yes guys it’s true. The internet isn’t just for cat videos, and porn anymore. Who Knew!

I am not saying you don’t need to have an editor, but Self-editing will help in the process, and save you lots of money.

I found a ton of information for writers who are feeling over burdened by editing like I was. Here’s a list of five.

1) I found a site that has cut my editing time in half. It’s called Pro Writing Aid. This site is awesome for the story writer like me, or for the person that needs to write a blog post, or hell even a business letter. And get this, it’s will cost you the big F word! Yes you heard me! No not that F word Captain Dirty Mouth! The F word meaning FREE! However, if you want to use their more complex editing tools packages start out at only 35 dollars a year. Here are some of the features with Pro Writing Aid.

  • Check for hidden and passive verbs
  • Identify overuse of adverbs and glue words
  • Locate repetitive sentence structure
  • Replace commonly overused words
  • Reveal repeated words and phrases
  • Eliminate vague, abstract and complex words
  • Remove clichés and redundancies

2) The book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne & Dave King is a must have for anyone that wants to learn more about the craft of writing. Renni Browne was once the senior editor at William Morrow, and has founded The Editorial Department , which is a national book-editing company. Dave King is a contributing editor at Writer’s Digest, and is an independent editor. So these two know what they are talking about when it comes to the written word. You can pick it up on amazon for a few dollars. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers description.

“Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here at last is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories.

In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.”

3) Scrivener is writing software, but it does have some editing capabilities. I use scrivener to write everything. With it’s ability to move chunks of text around, and the cork-board feature, it’s like having another brain. If you are serious about writing, Scrivener is a must have. The software cost $40 dollars and you can get it here.

  • Corkboard – In Scrivener, every document is attached to a virtual index card onto which you can jot a synopsis; moving the cards on Scrivener’s corkboard rearranges their associated text in your draft.
  • Outliner – View and edit the synopses and meta-data of your documents in Scrivener’s powerful outliner. Organise your ideas using as many or few levels as you want and drag and drop to restructure your work.
  • Scrivenings – Scrivener’s innovative “Scrivenings” mode allows you to move smoothly between editing your document one piece at a time or together as a whole.
  • Statistics and Targets – A live word and character count of the current section is always in view at the bottom of the screen, and you can set a word or character count target for each section.
  • Full-Screen – Because sometimes you want to blank out the rest of the world while you write – or at least the rest of the screen. One click in Scrivener’s toolbar and you can leave the rest of your desktop behind and write distraction free.

4) After The deadline is editing software that is free for personal use. It checks spelling, style, and grammar, among other things. It also has tips on how to become better at editing. http://www.afterthedeadline.com/

5) NewNovelist Version 3 Second Edition (Windows 8.1/8/7/Vista) Is affordable writing software for beginners.

  • Help and advice on how to write a novel
  • Tried and proven writing methodology with creative writing advice
  • Dedicated novel writers word processor with voice recognition dictation and read-back
  • Facilities to build up plots and characters to implement into your novel
  • Advanced review and publishing tools

I Hope this helped all my writing friends. If you find any other resources please let me know in the comments below. I look forward to your feedback. As always you can find my writing on Amazon. I’d wish you luck, but you don’t need it. By the way I am sure there are editing mistakes in this post. Thank you for noticing. 🙂

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Nothing to see

Nothing to see

“Excuse me, are you Steven James?”

The guy looked like a CIA agent, complete with plain black suit and sunglasses, that were not needed since it was almost dark. In one well manicured hand he held an envelope that had the name in question written in what looked like old cursive, or calligraphy. The envelope was old, it was browning at the edges and looked like it would fall apart at the slightest touch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Every time I glanced up at the man, my eyes would dart back down, as if the paper were made from a magnet exclusively for the two round objects that fit neatly in my skull.

I was not Steven James, the mysterious man who gets hand delivered letters from guys dressed up like secret service. No, I wasn’t him, but at that moment I wanted to be him. It seemed his life was a lot more interesting than mine. Bet he wasn’t an assistant manager of a gas and sip, who came home every night to sit alone and watch bad TV and eating bad food.

The man extended the envelope towards me, and not even thinking I said “Yes I am,” and snatched the note from his hand. He gave me a smirk as if saying he knew damn well I wasn’t who I said I was, making me instantly want to give him the envelope back. “Humanity thanks you.” He said. The man tipped his head as he walked away. I could hear his footfalls echoing, each one making the foreboding feeling that had come over me almost unbearable. I turned around to tell him the truth of my identity, and give him back the letter, but he was gone like he had become one with the molecules in the air.

The envelope seemed to burn in my hand. It wanted to be open, the note wanted to be read.

I opened the envelope. The brittle paper crumbled in my hands. Glue that had been sealed long ago obliterated into dust, leaving my hands a chalky yellowish color. The note looked newer, and was folded in classic letter style. I unfolded the paper methodically, relishing the moment even being overcome with the most horrible fear. It said in big red letters, “Look behind you.” As I turned I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder, and then I was staring it in the face.

The emptiness is what I remember most. Where my soul resides is a dark place where monsters lurk in every corner. Yes my friends, hell is not the fire and brimstone kind of hell. Hell resides in your mind, on a Tuesday, when your bored, and coming home from work.

Oh are you wondering what I saw…? Well I saw nothing.

Other writing by me that you can find on Amazon. Click the images if you have further interest.

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