Archive for June, 2009

New D. Harlan Wilson Interview

Posted in Bizarro Authors on June 30, 2009 by carltonmellick

D harlan

D. Harlan Wilson talks about his upcoming book Peckinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance over at The Horror Fiction Review.

Here’s a sample:

“Peckinpah is a critifiction that combines my experience living in a small Midwestern town and a study of the ultraviolent films of Sam Peckinpah. The setting is fictional—a place called Dreamfield, Indiana—but it’s a caricatured version of where I live now in northwestern Ohio, which is basically constituted by the same thing as greater Indiana: rednecks, cornfields, flatness, republicanism, churches, fatasses, etc. I spend the first part of Peckinpah characterizing the absurd social and physical landscape of Dreamfield. By degrees I introduce my protagonist and antagonist and a plotline begins to unfold. Interspersed within this plotline are short essays, meditations, descriptive and analytical passages that engage the filmography of Sam Peckinpah. The action is increasingly ultraviolent in both the narrative and diagnostic parts.”

On another note, this is what Alan Moore has to say about Wilson’s book:

“A bludgeoning celluloid rush of language and ideas served from an action-painter’s bucket of fluorescent spatter, Peckinpah is an incendiary gem and very probably the most extraordinary new novel you will read this year.” – Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Get Off Your Butt and Write

Posted in Writing Related on June 28, 2009 by carltonmellick

If you’re a new writer struggling with getting work done, then your main problem is probably getting your butt in the seat to write.   In order to get work done, you need to either be disciplined or challenged.  If you can discipline yourself then you can write every day.   But most people aren’t so disciplined.   Writing every day is not easy for a lot of people,  just how exercising every day is not easy for a lot of people.   Personally, I get work done by challenging myself with a deadline.  In my opinion, the best motivation for a writer is a deadline… especially when that deadline comes from a publisher interested in your work.   Not many writers are so lucky, but there are other useful methods of getting work done.  Here are some ideas:

1) NaNoWriMo – November is National Novel Writing Month.  Writers all over the world participate in this event.   You have one month to write a 50,000 word novel.  Although many people swear by this, I don’t think it is works because you have nothing to lose if you fail.  Even though I have written several books in less than a month, I have tried the NaNoWriMo marathon and failed twice.  Still, a lot of people swear by it and have done great work by giving themselves a one month deadline to write a 50,000 word novel.   Bizarro authors Gina Ranalli and Bradley Sands have also tried this.  For more information, go to:  http://www.nanowrimo.org

2) The 3-Day Novel Contest – Every labor day,  there is a contest to see who can write a 100 page novel in three days.  To enter, you send in your $50 entry fee.  The best book written during those three days gets publised.  This is an excellent motivation to finish a project, because a) you paid $50 to enter so you will force yourself to finish the book because otherwise you’ve wasted $50…and  b) if you win you’ll get a book published.  I recommend all writers do this at least twice (the first time is miserable for a lot of people).  Not only is it a great challenge, it also really teaches you to throw away the perfectionist instinct and embrace the creative flow.  During this kind of marathon, you might also get into the ‘zone’ where you are so into the book you are writing that you forget you are actually writing a book and feel like you are inside of the story.  That’s my favorite part of writing.  Gina Ranalli has also tried this contest before.  For more information, go to:   http://www.3daynovel.com/

3) Betting a Friend – Another way to work by deadline is to bet a friend $100 that you can finish a book within a certain amount of time.  Maybe a 50,000 word book in a month, maybe a 20,000 word book in a week, or three days.  Make sure to bet a friend who will definitely collect the money if you fail.  This method works because you will definitely finish a project if you know you have something to lose.  If you try this method and fail, then you might want to try again with $300-500.  If you have the choice between finishing a book or losing $500, which would you choose?  You might also want to bet another writer who, in exchange, bets you he can finish his own project during the same time.  That way, if you both fail neither of you has to pay.  I have done a bet like this with Jeremy Robert Johnson and Mitch Maraude in the past.

4) Checking into a hotel – This is my favorite method for getting work done.   I like to isolate myself from the rest of the world (people, the internet, tv) for several days until I finish the project.  I check into a hotel and don’t leave until it is done.  Because I am paying money for every day that I write, I make sure to get as much done as possible per day.  This is seriously the best method of writing that I know.  I like to do this once a month or at least once a season.  In fact, that is what I’m going to do this week.  I’ve got a crappy $30 hotel booked and I’ll be living there until I write at least 100 pages.  So you won’t here from me until the weekend.  I have done this before with Daniel Scott Buck and Mykle Hansen.   This week, Mykle Hansen, Cameron Pierce, and Jeff Burk are all doing writing marathons at the same time as I am.  However, Mykle will be writing at a friend’s beach house, Jeff will be doing it at home, and Cameron will be camping out in the Eraserhead Press office.  I have faith all 4 of us will be successful.

5) Withhold Something – Tell your spouse, roommate, mom, or whoever is closest to you to withhold something from you until you finish your project.  It can be television, your Xbox, the internet, drinking, smoking, sex, spending money.  Whatever you think you would miss the most, forcing you to finish your project as quickly as possible.  If you are overweight a good one would be to have good/fattening food withheld.  So then you would be on a strict diet until you finished your book.  This is good because if it takes you a really long time to write your book, at least you will be losing weight and living healthy during the process.

For additional information on getting stuff done, check this out:

Merlin Mann talks about getting creative things done. He says, “Get comfortable with the idea that you’re going to suck” while advising abandoning perfectionist tendencies and fear of sucking for the sake of improving through doing.

Have a listen:

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/06/19/merlin-mann-on-getti.html

The Bizarro Artwork of Jase Daniels

Posted in Bizarro Artists, Bizarro Books on June 25, 2009 by carltonmellick

There is fantasy art, horror art, and science-fiction artwork. But is there such a thing as bizarro art? I believe so. In order to define bizarro artwork, I’d say it would have to be an image that tells a bizarro story or could easily inspire a bizarro story. With that definition, I would say that Jase Daniels is a definitive bizarro artist. His work is dark, surreal, somewhat cartoonish (in a good way), and it always tells a strange story. It reminds me of the French film Fantastic Planet, or the web cartoon Salad Fingers, or the surreal animated MTV shows from the ’90s like Aeon Flux, The Maxx, The Head, and Liquid Television. Fans of bizarro should take note.

I first discovered Jase Daniels when I picked up his book (a collaboration with bizarro writer Forrest Armstrong) called This City is Alive:

this city is alive

It’s a great book that was nominated for the Wonderland Book Award. Although it is now sold out, it is perhaps the most beautiful bizarro book to be published. It is a short novel with full color illustrations. Forrest and Jase are the perfect match of artist and writer. They compliment each others’ work perfectly. I hope they work together on many future projects.

Last week I got an advance copy of his new book, The Grubby End:


grubby end

It was published by Crossing Chaos, a new company that has released books by some bizarro people like Jase Daniels, Forrest Armstrong, and Tom Bradley (although I’ve heard the company is anti-bizarro for some reason).

The Grubby End is a wonderfully surreal story of pictures, like a 100 page bizarro version of a David Wiesner or Maurice Sendak book. The story is genuinely creepy in style, and weird as hell. It’ll take you on a journey through an insecty world of soggy sky scrapers, maggot eggs, and little goblin-like people. It’s genuinely creepy and weird as hell. It is also 100% bizarro. I highly recommend it.

Here are some samples:
sample1
sample2
sample3

It’s coming soon. Watch for it on amazon.com or crossingchaos.com.

To check out more of Jase Daniels’ artwork, go to his website: http://www.jasedaniels.com

Novels vs. Short Stories

Posted in Writing Related on June 24, 2009 by carltonmellick

Yesterday, Troy Chambers asked:

“What’s the “rule” on having something be considered a novel as opposed to a novella or short novel? What’s the word count?”

Well, these are the official word counts that are recognized by writer’s organizations to define stories, novels, and novellas:

Flash fiction: 0-500 words
Short shorts: 500-1,000 words
Short Stories: 1,000-7,500 words
Novelettes: 7,500-17,500 words
Novellas: 17,500-40,000 words
Novels: 40,000 words and up

(though most mainstream publishers won’t publish novels under 75,000 words, so some people consider novels to be 75,000 words and up)

However, I think most of these terms with word count definitions are bullshit. There are only novels and stories. These two are separated not by word count but plot content. If it has enough plot to be turned into a movie (or a three act play) without needing to add anything then it is a novel. Otherwise, it’s a story. The reason defining a novel/novella/story by word count doesn’t work is because there are works that have enough plot to be considered a novel, but are written in a minimalistic style that keeps the word count low (example: Animal Farm). And I have read works that have such little plot that they must be considered short stories, but are so overwritten that they have really high word counts (example: Stephen King stories). So you can have a 20,000 word novel as well as a 20,000 word short story. I would call a 20,000 word novel a ‘short novel’ and a 20,000 word story a ‘long story.’

Most bizarro books work best in the 15,000 – 45,000 word length. In other words, they are great short novels. I believe bizarro works best in the short novel form because bizarro requires a certain amount of strange elements in order for it to be considered bizarro. The deeper these strange elements are explored, the more bizarre the work will be. A short story just isn’t long enough to do these ideas justice. While there are some great bizarro short stories (such as those by D. Harlan Wilson or those published in The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction), I think the best bizarro works are those published in the short novel form. However, bizarro doesn’t work will in the long novel form because weirdness can get old pretty quick. If Alice in Wonderland was 4 times the length, I never would have gotten through it. If David Lynch movies were three hours I’d never want to watch them. Of course, there are some great bizarro novels like Chris Genoa’s Foop! and Kevin Donihe’s Washer Mouth: The Man Who Was a Washing Machine.

I really love short novels because you can read them in one sitting, like watching a movie. I am glad the bizarro writers are bringing them back.

Pages vs. Word Counts

Posted in Writing Related on June 22, 2009 by carltonmellick

I sometimes get negative reviews from people who are confused (aka pissed off) at the page count of my books versus the word count of my books. Some of my books have tiny fonts, some have big fonts, some have retardedly big fonts. Some have illustrations. Some have a lot of blank space. There’s a bizarro catalog in the backs of the books that gets longer every year. So the page count really doesn’t have any impact on the length of the story. Unfortunately, the page count does have an impact on the price of the book, so I understand why some readers get pissed off at the big fonts. This is why Rose at Eraserhead Press doesn’t let me use big fonts or a lot of blank space these days (even though I personally like the look/feel of these books).

To figure out the real lengths of my books you’d have to look at the word counts, rather than page counts. Here is a list of my books from longest to shortest based on word count:

Electric Jesus Corpse – 150,000 words
Satan Burger – 75,000 words
Punk Land – 55,000 words
Cybernetrix – 45,000 words
Apeshit – 40,000 words
The Cannibals of Candyland – 35,000 words
The Egg Man – 35,000 words
Ugly Heaven – 30,000 words
Adolf in Wonderland – 30,000 words
Sex and Death in Television Town – 28,000 words
Menstruating Mall – 25,000 words
Sausagey Santa – 23,000 words
Fishy-fleshed – 20,000 words
The Haunted Vagina – 20,000 words
Razor Wire Pubic Hair – 20,000 words
Teeth and Tongue Landscape – 20,000 words
Steel Breakfast Era – 20,000 words
Sea of the Patchwork Cats – 18,000 words
War Slut – 18,000 words
Ultra Fuckers – 16,000 words
Faggiest Vampire – 14,000 words
Baby Jesus Butt Plug – 9,000 words

Although I think these reviewers’ complaints are completely valid, many of them have the tendency to claim that my books are actually short stories stretched out with big font and blank space to turn them into 200 page novels. And they say that if a mainstream publisher were to release my books they would only be 10-20 pages long. This is a pretty big exaggeration. A short story is less than 7,500 words. Anything longer than that is a novella or a novel (though I prefer the term short novel instead of novella). My children’s books Faggiest Vampire and Baby Jesus Butt Plug are close to short stories, but all children’s books have low word counts. A normal book has about 250 words per page, so if one of my books were published by a mainstream publisher…let’s say “The Menstruating Mall” which is 25,000 words… it would actually be 100 pages long (rather than 212). So, yeah, the page count is misleading, but it is far from a 10-20 page short story. But is it a ripoff? The industry standard for a 100 page trade paperback is $10 and industry standard for a 200 page book is $12. Menstruating Mall is $10.75 on amazon.com, so it is closer to the price of a 100 page book than a 200 page book. But I agree the page count is misleading. Sorry about that. I do want to add that my newer books, such as Cybernetrix, actually are at a standard font size and do have an average of 250 words per page.

For those of you (like myself) who preferred the large font books, sorry but you won’t be seeing them anymore (except in my children’s books). For those of you who dislike the large font books, these are the books to avoid: Menstruating Mall, Fishy-fleshed, Baby Jesus Butt Plug, Razor Wire Pubic Hair, and Faggiest Vampire (though Faggiest Vampire is a children’s book).

Bizarro Interviews

Posted in Bizarro Authors on June 22, 2009 by carltonmellick

LL Soares interviews bizarro author Jeremy C. Shipp at Fearzone here:

http://fearzone.com/blog/jeremy-shipp

And he interviews Andre Duza on his blog here:

Part One
Part Two

He will also interview Nick Cato, editor of the bizarro fiction imprint Squid Salad Press, on July 1st.

Spockalypse!

Posted in Bizarro Books on June 20, 2009 by carltonmellick

After Wil Weaton (you know, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek the Next Generation) twittered about Jeff Burk’s Shatnerquake, there have been lots of ideas coming in for sequels to the book.

Here are some that I found:

Spockalypse
AfterSpocks (after the Shatnerquake, there are AfterSpocks)
Tsunimoy
Uhuracane
DeForestfire
Shatnerquake 2: Electric BoogSulu

Although I prefer the sequel “Shatnerquest,” these are some funny ideas for book titles.

Here are some fan created covers for said sequels:
(created by Ian Watson)

Tsunimoy

Uhuracane

And the original cover:

the shat

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