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In this surreal road novel, Anthony searches for the father he’s never met: Andy Kaufman, the legendary song-and-dance man from the ’70s. There’s a few problems here, of course. A) Andy Kaufman died in 1984, and B) Thanks to a recent cancer diagnosis, Anthony doesn’t have much longer to live, either. However, new evidence has come to light that questions whether or not Kaufman is actually dead. Could he be in hiding, after all these years? Anthony is determined to discover the truth before his own clock runs out. During his travels, he will encounter shameless medicine men, grifters, Walmart shoppers, the ghosts of Elvis and Warhol, and the Devil himself.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A SHORT STORY AUTHOR LEARNS TO WRITE NOVELS





Two Book Contracts in One Week (News: My first two books being published.)
&
My Wild & Dangerous Leap to Long Fiction
&
50 Shades of Decay Anthology – Zombies need loving too!



TWO BOOK CONTRACTS IN ONE WEEK:


The Street Martyr to be Published by Out of the Gutter:

My first novel, The Street Martyr, based on the flash fiction piece Kid Louie published by Flash Fiction Offensive, will be published by Out of the Gutter Publishing. This is a crime, hardboiled, grit-literary novel about the struggle of a low-level drug dealer against a system of poverty and drugs designed to keep him imprisoned in the lowest class of society. The story begins when Saint is blamed for the murder of a priest he did not commit. Saint, along with his partner Louie, tries to get out of Philly, but when that fails, he determines to discover the identity of the murderer and confront him or her, thus becoming the hero he’d always wanted to be become but could never be allowed in the system. The book explores drug use and religion as an escape, the violence of poverty, corruption and apathy in our civil systems. We can change the world if only a little bit through our sacrifice.

I am now working on the edits with the editor at OOG. Hopefully the book will be out in late summer or fall.

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Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing to Publish my next Novel:

Also this week, I signed with Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing to write my next book, Destroying the Tangible Illusion of Reality; or, Searching for Andy Kaufman. This book is about my own spiritual journey and how I see the world after being told I was going to die of cancer—which, obviously, I didn’t, at least not yet. If I had, I’d probably be aware of the smell. I’ve always felt a personal nexus to the late performer, Andy Kaufman. He died of lung cancer in 1984; though not everyone was sure of this, considering his propensity for stunts and tricks. Andy understood that reality was mostly an illusion defined by people. When you’re told you’re dying, it shatters the way you see reality, evicting your vapid fears.

Reality is the delusion of the collective human mind, created to suit either fear or selfish desires. It is ratified by the majority, and it is not definitive. You can be free of it, to create your own worlds.
Anthony accepts he cannot change his death from a rare cancer and declines any more treatment, and his concept of reality is shattered. Life becomes a tangible illusion. Most of the living world, existing under ideas of their spurious immortality, imprison themselves in fear and delusional manacles. He weaves his own reality and quests for deeper truth, for the true foundation of life.

While trying to know his dead mother, who died in a car accident when he was a baby, Anthony finds evidence of his real father’s identity. This is confirmed by his best friend, Andrea, who introduced herself while volunteering at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania because he shared similar aspect to the late performer, Andy Kaufman. He comes to believe that Andy was his father, and the two along with a driver called Tolya—since neither can drive—go on a trip to uncover evidence to prove this; eventually, they believe that Andy Kaufman is still alive, having faked his own death, and they journey without funds or support, not even enough cash for gas money, to find him.

It will be released in 2014.

LINKEE TO PMMP ANNOUNCEMENT


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My Wild & Dangerous Leap to Long Fiction


My throat strangled, cutting off my air and blood to my brain in September when I tried writing horror. It had never been my intention to become known as a  horror author, and when readers and other authors started calling me the horror author, T. Fox Dunham, it surprised me. I enjoy writing dark fiction, especially to express deeper levels of pain, but I’ve always worked and seen myself as a literary author. I got so absorbed by the genre, motivated by my constant success as a horror author, and horror does make up a substantial share of the paid market. I’m not done writing horror. I’d never disappoint my ghoulish fans that way, and I will be writing more in the future. It just got to the point where I’d sit down to write a horror piece and only air poured from my pen. My fingers wouldn’t work to type. My Awen—my bardic creative heart—overdosed on horror. I cut back.

I needed a new project, something in a literary voice, back to my roots. When asked to name my favorite authors: Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger. Not, alas Stephen King. Even my horror always had a literary base to it, which is one of the reasons I’m so popular. I also needed a jump, an expansion of my work. After taking a few months to rest and slowing down my writing, in December I considered my next move. I decided it was time to write long fiction. I had already written a novella, New World, for May December Publishing’s Realms of the Undead. It was published as one of four in the anthology. It came out as 23,000 words, a nice novella, but without the complexity of a novel. (I will be writing an expansion of New World for May December Publishing this summer.)

So I got into the novel writing business. I didn’t even have a system for it, a point of attack, so I created my methods as I went along. This was my trial run, the early work, my training wheels. I had planned for 25K words, something smaller. I picked my flash fiction Kid Louie to expand. Out of the Gutter Press loved Kid Louie, and some of the editors told me they considered it one their best stories published. When they included it in their 8th Annual, I felt the stars aligning. So, I took the characters and developed a gritty, hard-boiled, crime novel, literary in voice. It felt orgasmic. Such relief. The energy had charged over the months, and in desperation, my mind just poured into this literary crime novel. It was all there still, just in need of the proper project.

I had to forge my path. I’ve trained all my life as a short story author and focused my writing on this crafting system. There’s so much I still need to learn about writing long fiction. During this nascent process, I dedicated a notebook to serve as a record for novel progression. I developed the book in this journal: starting with a chapter, then writing, then updating the journal about the chapter and copying over listed edits to a smaller notebook. I struggle with intense fatigue that hurts my concentration, so I need to keep notes around; thus I can focus on the narrative.

I’ve learned a few things in my transition to long fiction. First let me explain a concept of reader expectation:

A reader has different expectations for a novel and a short story. When the reader picks up one of them to read, they prepare themselves with two different mindsets.

When a reader chooses to read a short story, they expect brevity, quick pace, unnecessary elements such as long internalizations and setting details removed. This slows the story.

When a reader chooses to read a novel, they expect to spend time with the characters and plot, plus they expect to see a full range of elements like action, emotional responses and sequels shown. Anything missing in the narrative would be considered a gap and jarring.

I thought I’d share the main things I learned with you, my loyal readers and spammers.


LET THE STORY BREATHE

Short fiction is brevity. You learn to trim and cut and snip and shape and reduce it to the barebones. Entire scenes become single sentences or implied. You keep a good beat, a nice swift rhythm and show the tip of the garlic stalk. That’s how we like it. I’ve trained my life to be a short fiction author, first studying Ray Bradbury. Now, I have to undo all that. The first bear trap I stepped into was emotional sequels. These are the scenes between action scenes that serve to show the character’s emotional state, usually reacting to the most recent scene, how that character responds, and usually their decision process for their next move. Sequels are the vehicles of transition. In short fiction, we usually cut them down to a sentence if we show them at all. We often just infer them. Hey… The hero is driving a truck into the giant Zombie Max Booth III’s mouth, so I guess he came to that decision. In short fiction, the reader allows this. The reader expects it and has positioned himself to miss much of the background. However, when that reader picks up a novel, he or she expects a full-shaped or a wholeness of story. He or she wants to see all the relevant material, is looking forward to dancing duets with the characters as they struggle, laugh, consider, cogitate, plan and select. They want to see the whole plot and see your characters progress. If there’s a change, you must show it being made. If your heroine is running from a mutant Lori Michelle, have her pause to catch her breath and show how she feels and any plans she makes to survive mutant Lori.

(Max and Lori are dear friends and editors at Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. I could never have finished The Street Martyr without Max’s sage edits and advice.)


LAY THE FOUNDATIONS

When I sent Street Martyr to Max Booth III, the chief editor at Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing who is publishing my next book, one of the edits he sent back was about Louie’s mother, Laurie. She just appears randomly in one of the scenes. (I won’t give you anymore details or spoilers . . . but Max will never forgive me.) Laurie plays a vital part in the novel, even though she only has a few scenes. She is summoned by the local mob underboss, Dominic, and I only mention this briefly in a few sentences after she exacts her first contribution to the plot. Max felt jolted by this. The Street Martyr is based on my flash fiction piece, Kid Louie, which was published by Flash Fiction Offensive. That scene and the brief mention of the cause that brought her to that point in the plot were perfectly acceptable in the short format; however, in the novel, Max had more expectation. She just comes out of nowhere. Max was, as he often is, right to advise me to add more, and I created an introduction scene after the gunfight with Saint and Dominic’s crew. Instead of keeping it backstage, I had to show the plot progression, even if it was just a small scene.

In a novel, you have to show all the tracks or the train jumps, throwing the reader. Breaking that union of narration, the focus and trance of the reader, will hurt the sum of the experience of the book.


GET COMFORTABLE AND VISIT WITH A YOUR CHARACTERS

A short fiction author always feels like they’re sprinting in a short race. We have to fit a story world into the space of a few kilometers, so we’re always conscious of our word count. Any story over 4500 words starts to lose its energy, and it better be good to propel it forward. Word count is worth its amount in gold, so as I was writing Street Martyr, I kept weighing the prose and action. Is this worth spending my words on? It’s a mindset I had to break. I felt like I wasn’t being frugal, and my residual literary parsimony could have impaired narrative.

Reading over the first four chapters of my new book today at Barnes and Nobles, I kept this in mind, and I realized how many gaps I had left in the narrative that I needed to fill because of my short story frugality. Again, in short fiction, the expectations of the reader would demand that elements such as internalization be shaved down; however, the expectation of a novel reader would find these as gaps.

So, I have to slow down and spend more time with my narrative, showing the elements I’d normally cut with short fiction.


ABOVE ALL. BE PATIENT & GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO LAYER

Today, I sat down at Barnesand Nobles at my usual table, opened chapter 3 of the new Andy Kaufman novel, and nearly went apoplectic. I’m struggling with the emotional arc of Chapter 3: Elvis Died on the Toilet for our Sins. I wrote the chapter from foggy vision, getting it down. Today, I took it word by word, editing it, enhancing it, filling in holes, but I know it’s still not done. I require time for the vision to mature and clarify, the kind of growth that like growing herbs will only come with patience and lots of ticks and tocks.

I’m used to writing a short story in a day, from scratch to edits and often submission. Most of the stories you’ve all read were written in about 10 hours. I’ve practiced and trained with the short story art, which is why it’s a struggle to learn long fiction. I’m used to rattling them out like an air-cooled machine gun, and it’s a fast gratification. I was getting ten acceptances a month or more, and I confess to some endorphin withdraw, not seeing two acceptance letters a week in my inbox. I’ve also had to learn patience with the work. For me, short fiction is fast, quick, slam-bam thank you fans. Often, it requires very little editing, since it is written in brevity and pragmatic prose.

By its very nature, a novel’s vision requires time to mature, for the vision to clarify and finalize. I have to commit to a long-term project and give myself that time without rushing or anxiety to finish it. I have to give it free reign and suffer the discipline to finish it entirely, when really I just want to get it done fast and out.

Starting a novel is like getting married, and after the third or fourth chapter, the honeymoon period is over; and that’s when self-discipline, commitment and deep love must take over. So many novels never make it out of the honeymoon period. 15,000 words, and it dies on the vine.

I return to my training as an angler and a gardener. It takes time to grow from seed—little movements and small contributions daily. Tomorrow, the vision of the story will be clearer, and I will know more. I have to be patient and put the work down at regular intervals to allow it to grow.


MORE TO KNOW

I have so much more to learn, and there’s much more to novel writing than I’ve listed. These are just the elements I’ve had to learn in my initial transition to long fiction. In my journal, I’ve ruminated on these methods and concepts. I thought you might find them valuable.

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THE STREET MARTYR

I’ll be working with Matthew Louis, an editor at Out of the Gutter, on edits for the Street Martyr over the next month. I’m a literary author, and I know there are certain style conventions for the crime genre, so he’s helping me shape it properly. I look forward to learning from Matthew Louis and the other editors at OOG. I’m honored that Paul D. Brazil has agreed to write a forward or introduction to the book. I’ve admired Paul for sometime, and he’s a rising crime author.


This book is dedicated to my adopted mother living in Texas, Ravens Zuta or Janine. Love you Mum!

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50 Shades of Decay Anthology – Zombies need loving too!

This month, Angel Knight Press released a daring new anthology that mated the zombie-horror genre with erotica. All sorts of bits and pieces are breaking off and getting stuck! When I saw the request for submissions, I knew I had to join this anthology, as did many of the best and upcoming names in horror. Though written with a fun energy, many of the flash pieces (plus 50 in total) take the subject seriously, employing passion and lust. These are serious and compelling tales of deep emotion, though some of them are also spirited and humorous.

My piece, the Sickness Inside, tells the tragic story of a newly wed couple who waited to copulate until their wedding night. Struck with passion, they cannot wait, and their car crashes on the way to their honeymoon—and it just so happens it’s on the night of a zombie apocalypse. What crazy timing! Frustrated and filled with recent hormones, the two struggle to satiate their passions, frustrated by their diminished brain and body function.

Their night together at long last after celibacy. Lost in death. Stolen on their night. To lie in cold earth never slaked. Divided between a dielectric of soil, trapped in two coffins and blocked from reaching, touching
Sickness Inside by T. Fox Dunham

I love a good love story, even if the main characters are rotting and brain-eating corpses.

I asked my co-authors to email me their favorite quote from their own story. From these quotes, you can get an idea of the voice of each story and the collective choir of the talented authors whom I have the honor to join. The book is now available and can be gotten at the following location:


AUTHOR QUOTES:

“Her all-leather, cock and pistol rig intimidated the burliest of manly men.”
- Carnage Kandy by Teresa Hawk

“Until you get the right to vote, Congress is never going to pass a law that lets you near living flesh, even if the only zombies who eat people anymore are fringe fundamentalists.”  - 2 is for Taboo by Craig Faustus Buck

“We only have a little time before you change.” Groping at his jeans, she worked to unfasten the button.
”Maggie!” Jake pushed her away with the arm he had left. “What the hell?”
”If I’m going to shoot my husband before he turns into a zombie, the least I can do is make his last moments pleasurable.” - Ravenous by Lisa McCourt Hollar

“Zombies are a lot easier to understand than women, but the downside is, they just want you to become one of them: brain hungry monsters.”  - Shawn Erin

As the days crept by, the batteries in her beloved vibrator died just like all the people. The loss of her B.O.B. saddened her more than the end of mankind. - Laura J Hickman

“He wasn’t rotting. He was gorgeous. And when he sat in the front row and brought his pants down to his knees, a tear duct fluttered in my dead eyes.” - THE Z-SPOT by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

“If I have to face the end of human existence, I want to look totally smoking when it happens. Now shut the hell up.” - Being Superhuman by Angeline Trevena

Edwin could overlook a small thing like a heartbeat. - Love Stinks by Timothy Baker

“Sin became worse once everyone died.” – Glory by Jay “THE KING OF HORROR” Wilburn

“Are you ... rotting?” Jinx pulled her hand away from him. - Raving Diseased by Brett Williams

“Don’t take too long. Hundreds of cannibalistic undead could be bursting in here at any moment. Would be a shame if I didn't have a chance to fuck you one last time before they tear you apart.” - Playing a Game by Eric Stoveken

“As her teeth bit into his flesh, he absently wondered if he would still have his erection as a zombie.” - Stiff by Matthew Scott Baker

Marisol screamed as the dead hooker began to climb out of the depths of the box spring. She reached out toward the naked pair. A deep moan rumbled up through the slice across her neck. With it, a swarm of bed bugs began to scurry out of the wound. - Ménage à Trauma by Dan Larnerd

This is the new entertainment in a fallen world where currency is no longer money. - Prize of a Fighter by Dale Mitchell

The question of how to seduce a zombie wasn't one Erica ever thought she would have to confront—hell, until a month or so ago she didn't even believe in them. - Love's Lament by Kate Monroe

It always shocked her, the depravity of what a man would do just to touch some undead boobies.” - Jolie Chaton 

“You’re shit. I’m not the one in an upscale squat box with a dead guy and a zombified movie starlet. Maybe I can call up George Romero or Eli Roth and get her some background work on their next zombie movies. Hell, everything’s all about zombies these days. Maybe she’ll be good.” - Some Like It Rot by John Palisano

“You sure picked a fine old time to be getting it on. Don’t you know there’s a level three zombie threat going on outside?” - Angel of Mercy by Wednesday

It took me another week to get up the nerve, but I found myself standing outside the brick
walls of her compound at five o’clock in the morning—clad entirely in black, and carrying my neighbor’s head under my arm. - Andrew Freudenberg

“I'd been expecting him to use some lame pick-up line- Come here often? Are you an angel? Can I get some brain?” - Love in a Laundromat by Megan Dorei

Oh, man, don’t tell me she’s stopping. I will have a heart attack. - Bill's Birthday Gift by Lori Safranek



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Photo
Fox fishing at Peace Valley Lake on 9th March 2013, when the temp got about 60 degrees. Didn't catch nothing. Nothing awake yet, but damn it felt good.
That’s all for now. For my next post, I’ll be discussing the crime, grit-lit, hardboiled genre and my new novel coming out from Out of the Gutter. I’ll also be talking to some of the guys that really kick you in the teeth in that genre like Paul D. Brazil & Joe Clifford.

Enjoy Spring and start getting ready your true ghost stories for my site. I’ll be opening it for gathering in June and will start publishing true ghost stories in August.

I’m going fishing!!!