Tag: Stories

Enter To Win

Currently on Goodreads.com I am giving away 10 copies of my latest book, The Hole In Your Mind.  You have until March 8th to enter. As part of the rules winners will be expected to leave a review of the book, but you were already going to do that anyway. Right? Good luck, and like voting enter early and often.

Click here to enter: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29202183-the-hole-in-your-mind

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Hole in Your Mind by Vincent a Alascia

The Hole in Your Mind

by Vincent a Alascia

Giveaway ends March 08, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

My Latest Book Is Available Now

The Hole in Your MindMy Collection of short stories, The Hole In Your Mind, is available in paperback and as an eBook on Amazon.com. I’ve been working on it for awhile and some of the stories I’ve had since I began writing. The short flash fiction parts were all exercises at the West Valley Writers’ Workshop, but were interesting enough I had to include them between the stories. The paperback sells for $12.99 and the Kindle version goes for $3.99. I will have information on other retailers soon.

Ready For The Printer

Hole_cover2Yesterday I completed the final edits on my collection of Weird Fiction. You should be able to purchase this in the next couple of weeks from a variety of outlets, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and for the reader of your choice. For my loyal readers of this blog I’m posting the afterword in which I provide my best description of where the title came from and what I consider to be Weird Fiction.

Afterword – What is The Hole in Your Mind?

What is the hole in your mind?  First, I must give credit to the writers responsible for Babylon 5 for the line, “There is a hole in your mind.” In the very first episode of Babylon 5, a would-be assassin tells this to Commander Sinclair.  In this case the hole references a missing piece of time.  Later on in the series we learn that the hole refers to the part of the human mind that cannot come to terms with some of the mysteries and realities of the universe.

For this book I chose the title, The Hole in Your mind, to represent the void created when what you experience does not match up with expected reality.  Most of these stories could easily fall in the Horror genre, but I prefer to think of them as Weird Fiction.  In stories of this type the end brings the protagonist to the very edge of reality and either gives him or her a peek at what lays beyond or shoves them right over the edge.  Either way the protagonist returns form that edge changed in innumerable ways, or not at all.

Weird Fiction has strong roots in the Horror genre.  Some of my favorite short stories spend time taking the reader into a world that could only exist in the mind of a writer.  One of my favorites from horror master Edgar Allen Poe is the story, “The Black Cat.” It is the inspiration for my own story, “The Cat’s Meow,” included in this collection.  In the very first lines of the work the narrator warns the reader that what follows may not fit easily into the reader’s conception of what is real.

“For the most wild yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.  Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence.”

The early master of this genre and my biggest influence is H. P.  Lovecraft.  His writing, more than anything, captures the horror of the unknown.  In many of his stories the central character comes face to face with the unreal, with something that his mind simply cannot comprehend.  In this instance the hole in the mind is defensive yet when breached leaves the character in the throes of madness.  The reader still has the burden of trying to imagine horrors that have no basis in reality.  This is where the hole in their minds comes into play.  In some cases, Lovecraft recognizes this.  In this example from The Call of Chuthulhu, the narrator accepts that at this point language simply breaks down.  The words necessary to describe and relate the horror in the story to the reader just do not exist.

“Poor Johansen’s handwriting almost gave out when he wrote of this.  Of the six men who never reached the ship, he thinks two perished of pure fright in that accursed instant.  The Thing cannot be described – there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order.”

Lovecraft would revisit this breakdown in language in other tales.  For a writer this is an interesting point to make.  What happens when the very things you are attempting to convey defy the language you use to convey them?   In Lovecraft’s work he often invented terms, places, a whole theology of beings just to encompass, or circumvent, the language barrier in what he was attempting to create.

The goal of any writer is to transport a reader into the world of their story.  In some instances that world exists not in the rational and grounded but the fantastically bizarre.  In that instance the writer is expecting to find a hole in the mind of the reader that will allow him or her to fill it with a world both alien and yet inviting.  Writers call this suspension of disbelief but in its own way it is just blocking out the part of our mind that screams this is not possible.  Granted if readers only read about things that were possible we would have fewer books on the shelves.  The fiction sections of your bookstores and libraries are full of things that not only are improbable but not possible as well.

Readers expect a horror story to have scary bits.  They expect a hero standing up to some kind of monster.  However many things that may terrify readers and leave them sleeping with the lights on, are grounded in very real things to this world.  Spiders, snakes, even werewolves and vampires are all creatures that readers have no trouble conjuring in their minds as they read.  Some they have seen, and others are so ingrained in our literature that they are all but real.  A truly terrifying tale will take this expectation and twist it back on the reader.  Never mind the snake in the garden, it is the shovel wielded by the maniac that you must fear.  While your mind processes what the snake is doing the hole in your mind will never see the maniac coming at you.

Invoking the hole in your mind is more than just crafting a bizarre twist at the end.  The general atmosphere of the story needs to reinforce and prepare the reader for what is about to come.  Failing to do that will result in an ending that is more fake than resolving, more jarring than satisfying.  The reader is on the same journey as the writer and the goal is for the both of you to reach the end point at the same time with the least amount of difficulty.  The stranger the ending the harder that may be.  For the writer, this writer in particular, that is what makes Weird Fiction as much fun to write as it is to read.  It is the inherent challenge and risk of taking readers out so far beyond the norm that you may in fact lose them.  Should that happen it is time to take stock, take heed, and start over again.

All of the tales in this volume share that element of the strange and the bizarre that is a hallmark of Weird Fiction.  They are in no particular order or grouping so feel free to bounce around.  They come from many different years of writing, from deep in the file cabinet to closer to the top.  If I can achieve anything I hope it is that on finishing this volume you will be inclined to read more Weird Fiction and revel in all the madness that the hole in your mind can stand or supply.

Writing In the Lines

coloring book imageYou heard about coloring in the lines. How about writing in the lines? Members of the West Valley Writers Group know about our two minute drills and monthly assignments. Both of these have prompts that ask the writer to continue a story or create something within a certain set of conditions. Anthologies often work this way. For example, you may come across a call for stories 2,500 words or less set in the Pacific North and featuring a beloved pet. Go. Do you get the sweats? Do you ask yourself how will I ever come up with a story like this? The challenge of writing for anthologies is conforming to the theme of the work.

Following the fickle machinations of our muse is one way to get our stories done and results in some interesting works but the moment you hand that muse some guidelines the wall goes up. Is there some magic bullet way to get past this? Sadly, no, in these instances each writer is tested in a unique way as the object is to take these elements and work them into a compelling story. The risk here is readers are not dumb. They can and will pick up an details that are forced or do not feel right for the story or characters.

Rather than thinking of these criteria as constraints on your muse think of them as elements in a garden. You placed them there for your muse to wander through, climb on or hide behind. I know, but just go with me on this. This kind of visualization early into the story creation can really help your writing move past whatever is blocking it. Before a story is written all the elements don’t exist. They are like some bizarre Schrodinger’s Cat experiment, there but not there. So don’t sweat the details, just let your muse wander about them in the garden and soon a story will emerge. I know I have used this technique many times to create works for different needs and even research assignments. Try it you may find your muse enjoys his or her new garden.

Coming Along

wpid-hole_in_mind.jpgWork continues on editing the short stories that will make up my collection, The Hole in Your Mind. I am finding that, unlike a novel, editing short stories is a bit more involving. Each word has to carry the story along and each sentence needs to reach it’s desired effect. So far I have seven stories out of the intended seventeen edited. I am also looking for readers to make sure the editing is having the effect I want. I will also be bringing more of them to my Sunday critique group. Yes, fellow writers more weird fiction from me. Still I feel I am on track to have the book out this year. Although originally i had planned for a summer release. You just cannot rush good editing.

When the Well Runs Dry

Spooky Well
From The Ring http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0298130/

When working on my first novel, my biggest fear was that once complete that was it for me. That one book would be the only one in me. My career as a writer would end before it even started. At one point I think that fear even played a part in my procrastination as I neared the end. I can chuckle about it now.

I currently am working on my ninth and tenth novels. Actually that tenth one is on hiatus for now but is about 30% complete and I will get back to it. I really don’t know what part of the blood brain chemistry accounts for the spontaneous ignition of creative ideas. For me dreams often play a part. Many of my stranger and or more memorable ones find their way to one fictional form or another. Then there are the characters. Often I will come across someone, could just be a stranger in the store or on the television, that sparks something. Then as Johnny Storm would say, “Flame On.” (Please don’t sue me Mr. Lee but I had to use it.)

Sometimes visiting an interesting place is all the stimulation your mind needs to launch you into a new project. My latest trip to Bisbee, Arizona provided me with an interesting setting with a rich back story. A thriving mining town full of wild west stories and intrigues. I jotted enough of it down that I will be ready to begin my eleventh novel as soon as the smoke clears from my tablet’s screen. Hint, it’s a Steampunk work with plenty of Demons in it.  While in Bisbee I could feel the ideas peculating away. The place also allowed me to make significant progress on my latest work, the Sequel to Undead Heart.

So as I said earlier I can chuckle now at the thought I was a one book Benny. Still the fear is very real and you will work through it. Just don’t let it keep you from finishing or even starting a work. As long as you live a well stimulated life that old well is never going to dry up.

Writing Update

This Monday I figured I would put up a post about where I am with my current writing projects. At the very least I figure it will help keep me on track. At the best I hope it gives some of my fans a heads up for what is coming.

Undead Heart Cover_smUndead Heart The final edits are coming along really well. I have decided to switch the POV from 1st person past tense to 1st person present tense. This speeds up the narration and more closely matches the current trend in YA novels. So for the next couple of days I’m turning all my *ed verbs to *s. I still plan to have this out by the beginning of Summer.

wpid-hole_in_mind.jpgThe Hole in Your Mind My fist collection of short fiction is coming along. I have all the stories selected. I have also had four of the older ones polished up by a professional editor. Thank you Ekta at The Write Edge. This work will have stories and flash fiction pieces and a couple of odds and ends; some very odds and ends.

The Fourth Prometheus My Steampunk take on Frankenstein is still in the first draft stage. I will be polishing this up through the rest of the year and I am thinking that it could be out by April of next year. I haven’t settled on a cover design for this one yet.

Midnight Detail This is the novel, (my 9th), that I am currently writing. Right now I have about 20,000 words written and they are coming at a good clip. This is a vampire tale for adults and features a Secret Service agent, a former president (not named Lincoln), vampires, demons and a kidnapping. A taste of it can be found in my contribution for the anthology Twisted History.

A Story in Ink and Skin

While the internet may be abuzz about some other tattoo story (NSFW) I had already drafted this piece; as in all things timing is everything. This past week I spent my tenth anniversary with my wife in Hilo Hawaii. While we had many interesting adventures, climbing a volcano, kayaking along the Kohalla Ditch, speunking the Kaumana Caves and even riding a zipline over ravines and waterfalls, one of the coolest adventures came when we swam up along side a sea turtle while snorkeling. When my wife decided to commemorate the trip with a tattoo, she wanted an image of a turtle. While my wife talked to the artist at South Seas Tattoos I read up about Polynesian symbols in tattoos. Long story short I decided to occupy the seat next to my wife.

As you can see from the picture my design is a tribal design and owes much to the fabulous artist Matt who took my ideas and ran with them. I am a bit particular with tattoos, even though I enjoy looking at some of the odd stuff people immortalize on their bodies over at WTF Tattoos. For me, a tattoo must mean something and contribute to my life story as recorded on my body. The turtle design was a natural. The turtle itself is a symbol of long life and fertility. I chose the gear pattern on the shell to commemorate my most recent novel, a Steampunk adventure. The gear consists of ten teeth to represent the ten years of my married life. The spiral shapes inside the teeth are a Polynesian symbol for water. Water has a long history as a symbol for change and movement as well as close ties to the spirit realm where water is often seen as the gateway between this life and the next. Hence there are more waves and spirals in the center of the shell. In addition is a spiral sea shell, another Polynesian symbol,  in this csse for prosperity. Taken together all of these symbols come together in a totally unique artwork that tells the story of the past week, as well as the last ten years and the promise of years to come. I couldn’t be happier with how it came out.

Posted from WordPress for Android