Monday, August 31, 2015

Wes Craven, 8/2/39 - 8/30/15

When it comes to horror, I was a child of the slasher generation. The names Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers are as much a part of my childhood as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man were to my parent's generation. I remember being a kid and seeing the ads for their movies in the paper and wishing I could go see them. I didn't stand a chance at the time, since I was way too young to be going to R rated movies, but my parents didn't really seem to have an issue with the creatures in them. I was always into sci-fi and horror, so I suppose my wanting to see them was normal for me.

Then we finally got a VCR and the gloves were off. I was a teenager by that point, so my viewing habits weren't monitored all that much anymore. I rented the tapes of all those movies I remembered and got to watch them to my twisted little heart's content. My first was a Friday the 13th, I'm afraid, but it didn't matter in the long run. I liked the Friday movies. I liked Halloween. But I absolutely LOVED Nightmare on Elm Street.

I bought everything I could find related to Nightmare. Books that novelized the screenplays for several of the movies. Magazines. If Freddy was on the cover of Fangoria or GoreZone, I was all over it. I even bought the over-sized comic books that continued Freddy's story in glorious black and white so they didn't piss off the Comics Code Authority (Google it). For me, Freddy Krueger was the number one slasher badass of them all.

Part of that is due to Robert Englund's masterful portrayal. I couldn't believe Willie from V was playing this creepy, burned killer. But he was, and he did it well. The recent remake missed some of the heart of the thing, and that I chalk up to Robert Englund, hands down.

But his portrayal was not the reason the movies struck such a chord. That honor went to the man who created Freddy and told his tale on film to scare the hell out of all of us. That man was Wes Craven.

I was always into the mystery of creating movies. So the name stuck with me from the very start, as soon as I saw it on those posters. If his name was attached, I knew I would like it. Serpent and the Rainbow, Shocker, People Under the Stairs, I loved them all. They had a distinctive touch that could only have come from Mr. Craven himself, and it showed. Even if they were not what I was expecting, I knew they would be good, simply by his name being attached.

Then, years later, I finally got to see where he started. Last House on the Left creeped me out for reasons that had little to do with the things Freddy had done for me years earlier. This time, it felt real. It felt like something that could actually happen. The Hills Have Eyes, while I was better able to keep this one in the realm of movie fantasy, it was still disturbing as all get out because Wes Craven made it feel real, whether I wanted it to or not.

He wasn't all serious scares, though. Scream proved that he could poke fun at himself as well. If you needed more proof of it, just watch for his cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The man had a sense of humor, and he wasn't afraid to show it.

Today, I learned that Wes Craven passed on, after a fight with brain cancer, at the age of 76. To his family and friends, I offer my condolences and sympathies. They have lost a loved one, and that is a pain that only time can temper. To the rest of us, especially those of us who enjoy and play around in the horror genre, we lost a legend. Personally, I lost an influence who's true effect on how I view the genre cannot be measured.

I never had the honor of meeting Mr. Craven before his passing, but I would like to think that wherever he is now, he knows how each of us felt about him, about the respect we held for him, and the gratitude we had for all he gave us.

Thank you, Wes, for giving me all those enjoyable frights through the years, and the laughs once I realized there was no boogeyman in the closet. You were a master of your craft, a legend in the genre, and while your influence will be felt for generations to come, your presence will be sorely missed.

Sleep well, sir, and may you be at peace eternally.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Easier Updates... Sign Me Up

If you noticed, I added a progress meter to the right side of this page. That way I can keep you up to date on how each project is coming along without actually having to do an actual blog entry, which takes away from either writing time, sleeping time, or family time. That frees up the actual blog for important (or not so important) ramblings.

Just something to make my life easier while still keeping you all in the loop.

More later!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Progress Update

Feedback has starting coming in for Graduation Summer, and to my relief it's mostly positive. My wife has some issues with the sex in it, but overall liked it and gave some pretty good advice about things I hadn't really considered before. The beta readers have also thought it was pretty good, and have likewise given some good feedback I will be incorporating into future drafts. Revisions for the second draft are moving along, maybe at about 25% right now, and should be done pretty soon; it's mostly copy edits, proofreading, and obvious fixes. Then I incorporate the rewrites and revisions based on beta feedback. I'm still on target for my goal of getting it submitted and / or published by the end of this year or start of the next.

Based on my initial estimates (which may change depending on how it goes), I'm at the halfway point for the first draft of Demon at the Window. I haven't really talked about the timeline goals for this one, mainly because it's starting to look like GS has to come out first, but I'm starting to think maybe the middle or end of next year for it. You don't have to read GS to understand this one, but I think if you did it would enhance this story considerably. So I'm not setting any time frame, even a tentative one, for Demon until I have a better idea of what's happening with GS.

Wow, a shorter post this time!

That's it for now, stay tuned for more updates as things progress!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Demon at the Window: New Project Update #1

I have no idea what's happened to make me so prolific as of late, but I'm liking it. A lot. I suppose if writing is a form of stress release, as many writers find it to be, then I must be pretty freaking stressed out. I don't even have the edits finished on Graduation Summer yet - in fact it's not even going to end up in the hands of beta readers until Monday at the earliest - but I'm already nearly a quarter of the way through the new project's first draft. I guess that means I can let you in on it now, huh?

This one's called Demon at the Window.

Jack Cochran is struggling to get his private investigations firm off the ground. When his assistant gives him a case involving someone stalking some of her friends, he thinks it's just going to be an easy way to make a buck, a thought that's reinforced when his new client tells him they think they're being stalked by a straight from the bowels of Hell demon. But as Cochran digs into the case, he discovers that maybe there is more reality to what he considered myths than he ever dreamed of.

This one is still a bit in the horror genre, with touches of mystery and thriller thrown in for good measure. If my projected word count is accurate, I'm sitting at about 25% complete on the first draft. I'm not even going to guess about time to completion on this one, but like Graduation Summer I intend to submit it for publication and do it myself if a publisher doesn't bite.

A bit of backstory:

I've had the idea to do a book about a PI named Jack Cochran for a while now. I always knew he would end up investigating things that are supernatural, but that he was a skeptic himself. Every time I started one of these tales, I couldn't get it to go anywhere. After the third failure, I shelved it, but the character stayed with me.

Fast forward a few years. I needed a name for a TBI agent to put in Graduation Summer. As a joke for myself, I used Jack. I finished the chapter he first appeared in, and thought nothing else about it. As the story progressed, I suddenly realized that I could build on this. I figured out why Cochran would have left the TBI and started his own investigation firm. The rest clicked into place when I had an idea for his first case.

I started writing it fully expecting another dud. Three failures with him before, remember? But to my pleasant surprise, it was falling into place this time. So, like a good little artist when the Muse starts talking, I ran with it, and here we are.

It'll be a bit before this one escapes into the wild. I need to let GS run it's course first. But there is something else on the horizon. Call it a spiritual sequel to GS. Hey, if Marvel and Stephen King can do an interconnected universe, why can't I, right?

Keep rooting for me, and let's hope Jack makes it to a completed draft this time, what say? More later, once I'm further along. More on GS once I get some beta feedback.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Graduation Summer Update #2

The first draft is finished. And I'm a little surprised at myself.

This was not the first novel-length work I've done. It may end up being the first one published, but I've done others. Out of curiosity, I went back and checked what the total writing times were on those. For your amusement, here they are:

Thriller / Horror 1st Novel (@67,000 words): 1 year, 3 months, 20 days = 475 days.
Fantasy Novel Book 1 (@81,000 words): 1 year, 6 months, 14 days = 562 days.
Fantasy Novel Book 2 (@97,000 words): 1 year, 6 months, 29 days = 578 days.

Getting the picture here? Over a year, at minimum for a first draft.

Not much has changed. Still have a day job, still only get to write about an hour to two hours a day. But here's the stats on the first draft of this one.

Just over 85,000 words, so not the longest thing I've done, but up there. Total writing time: 32 days.

Now either my discipline has increased a thousand-fold, or this story wanted to be told. Since my writing habits didn't change other than I had to get back into them, I'd say the latter is the case.

Don't get me wrong, this thing is nowhere near ready for publication, even if I do it myself. Beyond needing a thorough spell-check and line edit to make sure MS Word didn't say I was fine with the word choice just because it was spelled right, I'm sure there's some continuity errors and plot holes that need fixing. And since I moved onto a new project the day after I finished the first draft of this one, I have to work editing time into my schedule somewhere, so it'll be a while before I say it's ready for the general public to consume it. But that doesn't take away from the fact that I got the raw story out onto paper in basically a single month. Actually, call it that since I did take two days off when I took my family camping.

One month = one draft. Nice.

Let's see if it holds for the next project.

As for this one, beta readers will be getting it as soon as I get it printed and bound for you guys. I'll be doing some self-editing for spelling, grammar, content, and word choice in the meantime. Hopefully the second draft will be done in about six weeks, with a final draft incorporating advice from the betas in about three months. Then it's off to submission and wait for a response. If it's no, I'll commission cover art and hopefully have it ready for self publication by the end of the year or start of next year. If it's a yes, well, believe me, you'll know.

I'll post a note about the next project once it takes shape a little more on paper rather than just in my head. All I'll say for now is that it could be a spiritual sequel to Graduation Summer, only you don't have to read that one to understand this one.

And now back to it!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Upgrade Headaches

So I've jumped on the bandwagon. I'm attempting to do the upgrades to Windows 10.

I even thought I was prepared for it. I tested on two no-longer-in-service laptops I had laying around. Stuff with failing batteries or just barely enough "umph" to run Windows 7. Both updates with no issues. I was encouraged.

So I decided to take the leap today. Desktop: no problems whatsoever. It updated, I set my settings, and booted to a Windows 10 desktop. Not much different from Win 7, honestly, but once you click the start button and dig around under the hood, you immediately notice the differences. It's still new; I'm reserving judgement for now, but I will say I'm so far more impressed than I was with Win 8. That lasted 10 minutes. I'm actually doing this post on 10, a few hours after the install.

So I put it on the laptop. Or should I say, I tried to put it on the laptop. Twice. Failed both times with some obscure error message that refers to Windows 8 upgrade issues. How helpful.

I've been around computers for years, and long ago lost my fear of installing an operating system. An in-place upgrade? Please.That's so easy it's not even worth considering.

But this has me baffled. No hardware conflicts. I meet the system requirements. All drivers updated. Windows Update has been on and automatic since I got the thing. Yet Windows 10 will not install.

So I did the only thing I can think of: followed the troubleshooting steps for upgrading to Windows 8 and hoped for the best. It's sitting at 51% right now on the third attempt. Third time's a charm, right?

If it screws up this time I think I'll just stick with 7 until the thing dies and I replace it. I could wipe the hard drive and do a clean install, but when it worked so well on everything else I tried it on, why should I make more work for myself?

And if you hear a faint cursing on the wind in a little while? Yeah, you'll know exactly how it went.

EDIT: Hear that swearing? Three fails in a row, all due to INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE. Yet it boots into Windows 7 fine. Looked online, if I want it, I'm stuck with clean install only. Can I scream now?

At least it reverts back to Windows 7 with no issues.