Check it: I started a new novel a few months back, so I started a Vlog series detailing my progress, the barriers I ran into, and the many, many times my cats tried to sabotage me. Here’s Episode 1.
You may have noticed that I haven’t been terribly active at this here blog, which is as much a tragic story of authorial incompetence as anything else. One reason I’ve been distracted is the other blog I’ve set up: Writing Without Rules.
WWR is where I’ve been posting all my genius, sodden, slightly warped writing advice (craft and career). The main reason I’ve set this blog up instead of simply continuing to dump my writerly thoughts here is because I’ve sold a book:
It’s not out until 2018, so let’s hold our applause. But since you can’t start promoting something too early, I’ve set up a companion blog centered on writing. I’ll be posting thoughts on writing novels, short stories, and other things, as well as my half-assed ideas about promotion and marketing. If you’re an aspiring writer and you’re under the delusion that you can learn something from me, please do surf on over and leave me some insulting comments. And mark your calendars to buy this book when it comes out, as I guarantee you will be a hundredaire after putting it’s concepts into action.
For the last Jeff Somers Rocks You Like an Email Hurricane email newsletter, I had a little contest and asked folks to send me doodles of Avery Cates. The doodles didn’t need to be great, or artistic, or anything. Just, you know, doodles.
(Didn’t know about the contest? Sign up for the newsletter, kid.)
The winner is Paul Surgenor, whose doodle of Avery’s eventual fate is pretty hilarious:
Congrats to Paul, who wins an autographed copy of the audiobook CDs for The Eternal Prison.
Chapter One of Black House, a novel featuring my character Philip K. Marks, has gone live over at theblackhousesite.wordpress.com, and you should go read it! I’ll be posting new chapters every day this month until the whole novel is up. Then it will stay up until June 15th, and then I’m deleting the site. Why? I’m not entirely sure. Let’s see what happens.
The novel is an experiment for me; I was inspired by an old puzzle book that was a house in the form of a maze, so I wrote a novel that is really a maze. It’s kind of trippy and strange, but I really like it, and hope you do too.
The book release schedule is basically 1-2 chapters every day, so you can check the website every day and find at least one new chapter, often two. I’d encourage you to let me know what you think as the story progresses—it’s be interesting to hear what y’all think in the midst of reading it.
And don’t forget—June 15th, I’m, deleting it. If you want to save the chapters for future reading, do it before then.
SO, I’ve written a book, and the contracts have been signed, and barring extinction-level event between now and 2018, The Unconventional Novelist will be published by Writer’s Digest next year. Huzzah!
My pitch was, in a nutshell, hey I do everything wrong and generally approach my writing career like a drunk guy approaches riding a bicycle down a mountainside, and yet here I am, nine novels in and making a living writing. And the editors took one look at my disheveled appearance and then one look at my surprisingly robust list of writing and publishing credits and decided that they could make some hay with this.
The book will be chock full of the wisdom I’ve accumulated during my lengthy and unusual writing career, most of which goes against received wisdom and, you know, the usual way of doing things. There’s this illusion that there’s a “right” way to get published and make money from your writing, and I am living proof that this is bunk. Also, there are more hilarious footnotes in this thing than is probably wise.
I’ll keep y’all updated. I’ve set up a blog over at https://unconventionalwriting.wordpress.com where I’ll be posting nuggets of drunken literary wisdom and other things, so if you want a sense of what the book will be like, there you go.
Anyone who pays attention to my wee blog here knows that now and again I try a little literary experiment. I’ve Tweeted short stories, I self-published six novellas that tied together as a new Avery Cates novel, I post free short stories here all the time.
Another experiment: A novel published as a transient blog. Here’s the details:
The Novel: Black House, featuring my character Philip K. Marks, who has appeared in short stories published at Buzzy Magazine (A Meek and Thankful Heart), Black Denim Lit (Howling on for More), and the anthologies Hanzai Japan (Three Cups of Tea) and Crimes by Moonlight (sift, almost invisible, through).
Here’s the synopsis:
All his life, Philip K. Marks has been a magnet for the strange, the surreal, the slightly impossible. His investigations into each macabre mystery that he’s stumbled into have always taken something from him, something essential. Old before his time, Marks is a shadow of what he used to be—but the strange and unusual still finds him. And he still can’t resist seeking answers.
At a rare upward swing in his fortunes, he finds himself able to imagine a more normal, stable existence for the first time in years. If he can just keep his head down. If he can just stay sober. If he can just resist the urge to help the little girl whose father went to look at an apartment and never came back. If he can stay out of the Black House.
The Blog: theblackhousesite.wordpress.com
The Deal: I’ll begin posting chapters of the novel on 5/1/17. I’ll post at least one chapter a day throughout May until the final chapter hits on 5/31/17. The novel will remain up until 6/15/17, and then I’m taking the whole site down.
Why? I dunno. To see what happens. To how it feels. To let anyone interested read what I think is a pretty cool story.
We have three winners who will be receiving a signed print copy of the new Avery Cates story, The Kendish Hit, and this is the story of how they won.
First of all, if you weren’t aware that I was giving away copies of the story, that’s probably because despite my incessant pleas and reminders, you haven’t signed up for my newsletter. Which is, frankly, inexplicable. Four times a year I’ll be sending out an email with news, secrets, embarrassing photos, and giveaways and other exclusive stuff. You can sign up over at the top right of this page, or go here. I suggest you do it right now, before you forget.
In the March 2017 newsletter I asked people to finish a line from the story itself:
“The Big Guy had an accent, something drastic that made every word sound like _________.”
In the actual story, the line ends “… it had been carved out of rocks.” I took all the entries and anonymized into a document, which I submitted to the Jeff Somers Rocks You Like an Email Hurricane Judging Committee, which is staffed by my wife The Duchess.
The Duchess takes everything she does very seriously, and so after a costume change and a snack she settled in to read through the entries, sifting through until she had found three she deemed acceptable for a variety of reasons. Here are the winners:
“… it had been carved out of rocks!” — A.L. Coan
The Duchess says: “I chose this one because they mimicked the Master.”
“… cliff faces falling into the ocean, taking that hospital of paraplegic nuns with them. His voice was what the stratification of the Burgess Shale, the Morrison Formation, and the Laramide Revolution would sound like if you recorded every sound during their deposition, scrunched that into a five-minute soundclip, and turned it into a black metal single. Every intake of breath was the collective screams of pterosaurs and anomalocarids still trapped somewhere below his larynx, begging for just one tracheotomy to let them see daylight again.” — Paul Riddell
The Duchess says: “This one was chosen for the simple, sheer amount of time it took to come up with something like that.”
“… he’d been drinking Black Saddle bourbon for 3 days straight” — John Patterson
The Duchess says: “This one wins because it shows he actually read the newsletter.”
So there you have it, folks: The winners of the March 2017 Newsletter Giveaway. Who will be next? You’d best sign up to be in the running. You never know when I’ll be giving away my credit card # or something; I do drink a lot.
Just a quick note to remind everyone that the new Avery Cates short story The Kendish Hit is officially available. For just 99 cents you get the title story, a prequel set long before the events of The Electric Church, plus several other Cates short stories that are variably available depending on how well you’ve been paying attention over the last few years. Here’s the cover copy:
In this prequel to “The Electric Church,” a young Avery Cates takes on his first job, meets someone who will be an old friend someday, and learns some hard lessons in the newly-formed System of Federated Nations.
Contains the previously-released Avery Cates stories “This Was Battle. This Was Joy,” “The Golden Badge,” “The Oldest Bastard on the Block,” “This Was Education,” “all orphans, at least,” and “The Sewer Rat.”
Enjoy! 99 cents for a digital copy, just $6 for a print book.
As anyone who has signed up for the mighty mighty Jeff Somers Rocks You Like an Email Hurricane newsletter already knows, I recently ran a newsletter-only giveaway offering up five rare print copies of my Ustari Cycle novella The Stringer, which is only available for sale as an eBook right now.
I plan to do a giveaway like this every time I send out a newsletter, and I’ll be doing about 4 newsletters a year. So if you haven’t signed up for mine yet, do the math and sign up immediately. I’ll be sitting here, staring at my MailChimp dashboard, waiting.
Anyways, it’s too late for you to win The Stringer because that ship has sailed without you. But I can now reveal the winners!
THE STRINGER CAPTION CONTEST
The contest was simple. I included this photo:
And asked folks to offer a caption. I received a couple dozen entries, which I anonymized and sent to my wife, The Duchess, to choose 5 of the best. Here are her selections, the lucky winners:
- “Thumb monkey I demand string. This is unacceptable.” — Terry Moody
- Sorry, you can only give away four copies. I chewed on this one a little bit. — Jesse W
- “Hey! So, where’s the string?” — Colin D. Smith
- Attached are my revisions. — Emerson Dameron
- I wanted to play with string and the drunk gives me this. It’s just insulting. — Jason Falter
Personally, #4 is my favorite for no reason whatsoever, although #5’s reference to alcohol is always a winning strategy with me.
Congrats to the winners!
THAT HOT DOG SMELL. Lem said we could eat hot dogs for lunch, but Lem said that before and we didn’t. Lem is cranky. I don’t know why. He’s not Hiram cranky, but no one is Hiram cranky but Hiram. Lem is Lem Cranky, which isn’t screamy cranky, but glum cranky. I actually prefer Hiram Cranky, because with Hiram you at least know why he’s mad.
Exhaust and sweat, even though it’s cold. Everybody is always rushing, but people get out of my way. Lem says its because I’m big. I am big. Or things are small. Like toilet stalls. Too small. I get in, I can’t turn around. Took me a long time to remember to back in sometimes.
Lem buys the hot dogs.
He doesn’t get any. He just stands there smoking a cigarette and scowling. I don’t ask what’s wrong. Lem never tells me.