Archive for September, 2014

THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON WRITERS

I don’t need to tell writers, or readers for that matter, that for publishing ‘the times they are a changen’’. I’m trying to keep up but not always succeeding, especially in my mindset concerning social media. In this piece I will truly show my age.

In the past, that is my past, writers seemed to be more elusive than they are in today’s world of publishing. They would publish, perhaps appear for a short time in public, and then return to pursuing their craft.

In today’s environment of constant communication and media exposure, if a writer is not constantly tuned into social media and making the public aware of their every thought through tweets, Facebook, blogs (such as the one you are reading now) and websites, they will fall by the wayside. Granted, once you are well established as a writer those avenues to the public are less important. But even those lucky authors who dare to turn their back to social media are at risk of losing their access to the public.

My mind wanders along these avenues of thought. My fellow writers: What do you think?

September 27, 2014 at 6:39 pm 2 comments

STRUGGLING TO GET IT WRITE: HOW MUCH OF ‘YOU’ IS IN YOUR CHARACTERS? CONTINUED

Continued as promised…

Okay, sit back from the edge of your seats.

Here’s some hints as to who the character is and the reward I’m offering.

First, as you all know by now, I have a profound love for books. In New Moon Rising the character shares the same love and, in the story, is on my dream vacation. What’s his name?

As for the prize, it is twofold. Now you’re back to edge of your seats again. I can feel it.

First, you will receive a signed copy of my e-book, Elmo’s Sojourn, mailed to you as a printout. Also, you will receive a copy of my, as yet, unpublished manuscript, Elmo’s Invention, which is a prequel to the e-book.

That’s it, my friends. I’ll alert Amazon to expect the rush to buy my novel.

Good luck!

To ease your buying enjoyment, here’s a link to my work for sale by Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=walt+trizna

September 22, 2014 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

STRUGGLING TO GET IT WRITE: HOW MUCH OF ‘YOU’ IS IN YOUR CHARACTERS?

This is a question I often ask myself of the author while I read his novel. How many of the characteristics of a main or minor character are yours?

I’ve recently finished reading Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a strange, enjoyable read. In the book, one of the characters is the creator of the characters in the story which makes for a strange interaction. The ‘author’ character refers to elements of his past. I’ve also recently completed reading And So It Goes by Charles J. Shields, and all the facts and incidents mentioned by the ‘author’ character are also true for Vonnegut.

As in the above, what I like to do when I find an author whose work I enjoy is seek out facts about the mind behind the words by reading their biography. Here’s a sampling of whose fiction I’ve enjoyed and whose lives I wanted to discover.

I expect that you know by now that I enjoy writing horror. One of my favorite authors of the genre is H. P. Lovecraft. I have a volume of his complete works and occasionally visit the volume to enjoy a short story or one of his longer works. His writing is quite dated but I find the worlds he creates interesting.   Lovecraft gave birth to a subgenre of horror which lives on. Sometime ago I read a biography of his short life. I recall he died around the age of 49. He initially fancied himself a poet but eventually fell into horror much to our benefit.

Frederick Exley is a writer I found to be both funny and sad. For a great read, find a copy of his novel, A Fan’s Notes, a work following the career of Frank Gifford and is a weakly veiled account of Exley. The biography of Exley I read confirmed this. As an example of Exley’s outlook, in one episode of the book the main character thinks he is dying. He decides to practically take up residence in a bar and then relates how he gained twenty pounds while wasting away from cancer. You’ve got to feel sorry for the guy and yet love him. As I said, funny but sad.

Jack Kerouac is another author I enjoy and read his biography. His classic novel, On the Road, closely reflects his life with the names changed to protect the guilty.

So many authors endure lives that are far from pleasant, something I’ll touch on in a latter post concerning the merits of good vs bad in an author and his characters. But with their many and sometimes tragic faults, we readers reap the rewards of their work.

So back to my original question to you writers: How much of your characters reflect details of your life? As far as my work is concerned, there is one character in my novel, New Moon Rising, who is me, and I’d like to challenge my readers to name the character and reap a reward.

To be continued…

September 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

FICTION USING FACT

When writing science fiction, I enjoy including knowledge gained during my former career in science in my stories to give them an air of realism and draw the reader into a world where the borders between fact and fiction blur.

I have had the pleasure, of late, to view that approach adopted, to some extent, by some recent TV shows. I also appreciate the new approach these outlets are using in presenting their programs. More on that appreciation will follow in another post.

One program I have been following, and I hope you fans of horror have also, is The Strain, based on the novel of the same name written by Guillermo del Toro seen on Sunday nights on FX. Vampires are the beasts in question and for the first time, to my knowledge, an explanation is given for the condition and its spread. Also detailed is a reason for the monster’s primary weakness – sunlight.

Ever since Bram Stoker penned his classic novel, Dracula in 1897, horror fans have been fascinated by this lustful amoral sucker of blood. Beginning with the classic film, Nosferatu, seen in 1922 followed by vampire movies starring Bela Lugosi and on to Christopher Lee we have witnessed countless young maidens come under the spell of these heartless fiends through their bite. But how is this evil trait passed from one victim to the next? The Strain has answered that question.

A virus is the culprit.

More and more we are becoming aware of the horror viruses can weak. From polio to the appearance in the western world of AIDS in the early 1980s to the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa, viruses have left their mark on mankind. I find it fascinating that a virus is now being used in the formation of vampires. Granted, the vampires in The Strain do not follow the classic manner in neck bites seen in days of old. These current vampires have a much more dramatic method. Also cleverly explained is their weakness to the sun, nicely tied into their propagation by a virus.

Those who have worked with tissue culture I’m sure have do so in a biological safety hood. When the hoods are not in use a UV lamp is illuminated to destroy any bacteria or viruses lurking within. In The Strain scientist fighting the disease are caught in a convenience store which, in addition to selling the usual fare of magazines, soda and beef jerky, has a well-stocked supply of UV lamps. And vampires are susceptible to UV rays such as those found in sunlight.

I love it!

The scientist use the UV lamps the combat the vampires when leaving the building. They also mention that the lamps are useless while they are inside for the rays do not penetrate glass, which is true.

I find this show entertaining not only because of the horror but also for the use of correct science. I also now know the answer to another burning question I have pondered: Why are nubile bikini-clad women never attacked by vampires in the dead of night while using tanning beds? It’s the UV rays.

Another program I’ve been following is Falling Skies broadcast also on Sunday nights by TNT. Aliens have attacked earth and are powering their ships using electricity beamed from the moon. One of the characters says, “Just like Tesla predicted.” He’s right.

Back when the use of electricity was in its infancy, a debate began between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla as to what form of electricity should be provided to customers. Edison was for direct current (DC) and Tesla for alternating current (AC). Fortunately Tesla won, AC being a safer product. Tesla also wanted to transmit electricity without the use of wires, solely through the atmosphere just as the aliens are doing in Falling Skies.

Finding science fact in science fiction and horror makes the genre all that more interesting.

September 13, 2014 at 9:40 pm 1 comment

STRUGGLING TO GET IT PUBLISHED AND MARKETED: SLOW DOWN

In the past, I have shared with you comments made by Brooke Warner in her blog published by the Huffington Post. Recently, she posted another article about publishing which I feel poses some important points. In this article she contrasts the difference in the timeline between traditional publishing and self-publishing and lends tips on why it is important to slow down in these efforts.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brooke-warner/5-reasons-to-wait-and-slo_b_5525223.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books

September 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

DARK HUMOR: HEADLINE

 

Here’s a little piece I wrote for my writers group, The Wordwrights, in response to a prompt described in the story as the ‘headline’, born from a list of random phrases spliced together.

I submitted it once and received a rejection. Maybe because it was too dark, or humorless or just plain sucked. I have a great deal of work in progress so for now this story is not even near the back burner. In fact, it can be found hovering around the circular file. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my cleverness with you.

In all honest, I have some reluctance posting unpublished work online, in my blog. There are some venues, at least for short stories, which consider any online appearance as the piece being already published and will not touch it.

In the future I plan to throw caution to the wind and post a few chapters of my unpublished and oft rejected novel, The Beast Awaits. Perhaps someone out there will enjoy the chapters enough to provide some feedback.

In parting, let me share a small piece of parting wisdom from an obscure author someday to be devoured by time, ‘No fame, no gain’.

In the vast majority of the world gain equals monetary value. But in the writer’s world, at least this writer’s world, gain is having his words read and appreciated.

 

                                                                             THE HEADLINE

 

 

 

I sit alone in my cell. Tonight, at eleven, they will start the IV that will end my life. How could I be so stupid?

The headline shouted in huge bold letters, ‘AFTER TOO MANY CUPS OF COFFEE A CHILD GENIUS DEVELOPS THE ABILITY TO FLY’. Did I check the date? What difference would that make? Papers publish only the truth.

I’ve had some mental issues in the past, nothing big, just a couple nervous breakdowns and hearing the occasional mysterious voice. After a couple of years in institutions, I snapped out of it, or so my handlers said. I was released with a clean bill of health. I was cured! My wife was confident enough to let me watch our six year old son while she went to work, and she is one of the ‘trusted ones’. The voices told me so.

Let me tell you about our son. At the age of six he can read, kind of, can count and knows most of the alphabet. The kid was a regular genius. After all he did spring from my loins. That damn headline stuck in my mind, so while I was alone with the kid, I began priming him for stardom. Starting with half coffee and half milk and with tons of sugar, I eventually got the little guy to drink it black. He couldn’t get enough of the stuff. My genius kid was soon drinking six huge cups of black joe a day. When I thought he was ready, and this was confirmed by one of my voices; I opened the window of our tenth floor apartment and tossed him out. I craned my neck looking skyward. Nothing. Finally, I looked down – oops.

Later I would find that the damned headline appeared on April 1st. I guess the joke was on me.

 

September 8, 2014 at 2:34 am Leave a comment

OUR BIRDFEEDER DRAWS A CROWD

It may be time to upgrade our squirrel-proof birdfeeder after this new challenge by the masked intruder.

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Believe it or not, this is in a sense, a memoir piece.

We live a suburban life where homes occupy half-acre lots. Not far from home are fields of corn and stands of forest. Our piece of land is bordered by a gully, once the home of railroad tracks. Overgrown now, it is a natural highway for wildlife.

Groundhogs and fox have made dens in the gully’s confines. The groundhogs can be seen lumbering around the front and back yards, or heading towards my garden. Foxes can be heard more than seen, although on winter afternoon I caught the sight of a red fox against a new snow. Summer nights they call, to one another or pierce the tranquility with a rabbit kill. In recent years, deer have appeared in the gully, up to five does occasionally accompanied by a buck, a sure sign of the species overpopulation in the area. Also, a sign of danger for our road is a busy one. Skunks are around, but see almost never only smelled.

The birdfeeder pictured attracts a host of birds, chickadees, cardinals, titmouse, goldfinches and the occasional woodpecker. Now, for two day running the sunflower seeds have also attracted our masked visitor.

“How is this a memoir piece?” those of you still with me are probably asking. The observations above reinforce in me the memories and contrast in my mind my present conditions and those I experienced while growing up in Newark, NJ. When looking out on the tranquil area I call home, I recall our backyard in Newark, dirt and cinder, defying the growth of grass. Our wildlife consisted entirely of squirrels. Our birds were limited to sparrows and starlings, with the occasional robin looking forlorn and confused. Those distant memories help me appreciate the surroundings I inhabit now, help me appreciate my Pennsylvania home.

Some future day, I hope to spend part of the year near the ocean. Its vastness provides a ceaseless source of peace and contemplation. I could never live on its shore year-round, for I fear that that endless body of water would become commonplace and lose its magic. My Newark youth provides no problem in keeping the wonders of nature in prospective.  

September 4, 2014 at 12:07 am Leave a comment


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