Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THING IN THE WOODS First-Ish Draft is Done

This announcement is a week or so late, but here it comes. The first draft of my "teen Lovecraftian horror novel" The Thing In The Woods is finished.

The story began when I was hanging around the Borders in East Cobb when I was in high school or college. I was reading a Call of Cthulhu role-playing game manual and came across the concept of one of those isolated small towns where Lovecraft depicted evil things afoot being suburbanized. The phrase they used was "supernatural Love Canal." What began as a short story turned into a novel (in terms of concept, as I actually hadn't written very much), a novel I neglected to focus on other projects like Battle for the Wastelands.

However, I eventually realized this was another project I could write fairly quickly, since I wouldn't need to do as much research as I would for other projects. As of last March, only 1,517 words had been written. By the time the summer writing challenge with my friends Nick and Lauren began, only 6,000 words had been written. Now it's 46,000 words long. I call it a "first-ish" draft because I typically write one or two chapters at a time, print and revise them, submit to writing group(s), and then revise based on their comment. The last two chapters, which one of my groups will consider on 12/29, would technically be at the "second draft" (or a "Cherie Priest first draft" because she considers an unrevised-but-just-finished project to be "draft zero"), but earlier parts will have been revised twice or more.

Then things will get a bit tricky. Many agents will not represent and many publishers will not publish a work that's this short. There are some presses that will, but oftentimes they will only put them out as eBooks, not as print books. Although the eBook market is rapidly growing and threatens to obliterate mass-market paperbacks, no print editions mean no book signings. That's a very good way to generate publicity and thus further book sales (I've covered a bunch in my years as a journalist--see here, here, here, and most recently on page 10 here). If book signings are not an option, I'm not sure how I'd do my bit to promote the book.

Fortunately, I've got ideas for at least three more scenes I can add that flesh out the book's female lead (she's a relative newcomer to the story and I fear it shows) and provide one last POV for the novel's (human) villain that's thematically fitting. Hopefully I can get it to 50,000 words. Then I can bring the completed novel before my other writing group (and some interested friends) and once I revise based on their opinion, it'll be ready to be shopped around. I'm thinking this will be done by the end of first quarter 2014, although graduate school could be a problem.

Fingers crossed. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Search Called Off For Missing Dolbeau-Mistassini Family

DOLBEAU-MISTASSINI--The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have called off the search for a missing Dolbeau-Mistassini man, his wife, and son.

Jacques Plante, 35, his wife Hettie, 25, and their newborn son Achille were first reported missing Jan. 12, but heavy snow and storms prevented the search from beginning until Jan. 15. Searchers in snowmobiles, helicopters, and even on horseback searched the countryside surrounding Dolbeau-Mistassini all the way to Normandin. Bloodhounds found a trace of his scent at one point, but it was soon lost. The RCMP combed the countryside for two weeks before another winter storm forced them to pull back.

"Mr. Plante and his wife trapped animals in the countryside, but during the winter came in to work at the ski resort," said Corporal Andrew Johansson, who oversaw the search. "The Plante family cabin was empty when we found it."

The only evidence of recent habitation, however, was the fire ring out front. There had been a fire there during the last week or so, but not evidence of cooked food.

In response to questions about whether the family had been stranded in the countryside without food during the winter, Johansson reiterated the need to keep adequate supplies as well as emergency radios to call for help. In the event of an emergency, it's always best to stick together. Oftentimes when a person strikes out alone seeking help, they run into trouble and cannot help themselves.

So what happened to this Canadian family? Find out by reading "I am the Wendigo," available on Amazon.com.

Pets Going Missing in Geauga County

Chardon, OH--Geauga County residents have been reporting an uptick in the number of missing pets over the last two months.

Newly-installed County Dog Warden James Gibson said there were 20 missing dogs and 10 missing cats reported in October, up from 11 missing dogs and four missing cats this month last year. In September, there were 15 missing dogs and eight missing cats, an increase from last September's numbers of eight and two respectively.

What's more, no identifiable dead animals were found. A skeleton later determined to belong to a Labrador retriever was discovered in Munson Township, but no connection with any of the missing dogs could be made.

"It'd been picked clean," Gibson said. "Clean."

He suspected turkey vultures had been at the carcass for days before it was found. There were no other dead animals found on county roads or in any of the townships.

Gibson advised residents to keep their pets, particularly cats and small dogs, indoors unless on leashes. This is doubly true at night, when predators would be most active.

Leslie Groves, a resident of Claridon Township, lost her beagle Samwise in September.

"He got out when I was taking out the garbage," she said. "Wriggled between my legs and out the door he went."

Samwise had gotten out before, but had always come back within a few hours. It's now been over a month and no sign of Samwise, alive or otherwise. Groves doesn't know what she's going to tell her daughter Abigail, 10.

Andrew Steinberg, a resident of the Huntsberg township, said the pet disappearances began increasing when some forests near Chardon-Windsor Road were cleared to make room for a new shopping center, the first new commercial construction in the area since 2008.

"Dozens of acres of forest, clear-cut," he said. "Whatever's living there, if it's still alive, is having it make its living elsewhere."

He suspects the perpetrators are coyotes, although he admits he hasn't actually seen any coyotes even at night.

Alva Jones, a representative of Donner Construction, denied any connection between the new development and the missing animals.

"There was no sign of coyotes or any other large predator when we surveyed the land," he said. "We found what looked like a squatter camp, but it had been abandoned for some time."

He offered his condolences to those missing their pets.

So just what has been driven out of the forests and forced to prey on cats and dogs in order to survive? Find out by reading "Melon Heads" by Matthew W. Quinn, available on Amazon.com.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

November Writing Contest Results

Now that I'm done with graduate school for the semester, I can post about the results from my November writing contest with my friend Lauren.

My most important accomplishment this month was taking THE THING IN THE WOODS from 36,294 to 40,579 words. That's over 4,000 words. All that's left to do is write the climactic confrontation with the titular Eldritch Abomination and I'll be done with the first draft. My plan is to bring the remaining chapters before one of my writing groups in December and then the whole thing before my other writing group in early January. Then comes the search for agents, publishers, etc. THING will probably be rather short, which could be tricky.

I also managed to cut BATTLE FOR THE WASTELANDS down from 99,631 (100,000 as far as publishers are concerned, since one always rounds) to 97,427 words. This I accomplished through lots of little cuts, like replacing "looked to the left" with "looked left." Many small cuts, added up, equal lots of cut words. All this was done without affecting the macro plot any.

I also worked on some old short stories that might be Kindle fodder. I brought one before my writing group this morning and got some advice that could lead to two versions, one a supernatural horror tale and the other a purely natural "animal story" that could be sent to a pricier market.