Tag: update

Update: The Chamber and My Writing

Shadows and Stars

I have been busy establishing The Chamber over the past month or more and my writing has therefore suffered. The beautiful spring weather here in Arkansas seems to have brought in a severe bout of laziness as well.

On a personal note, as of April 3, I have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Nonetheless, I still follow CDC guidelines as regards wearing a mask and, maintaining social distance. The vaccine is 95% effective, so there is a small chance I could catch Covid-19 or one of its mutants anyway. Wearing a light mask and keeping my distance from strangers (who I normally don’t want to be close to anyway) are very small prices to pay to minimize my chances of dying slowly and miserably.

I was working great guns on Shadows and Stars until I started to be overwhelmed with double-checking all the details and was stumped on working in an additional chapter that I wanted but wasn’t certain if it was necessary or if it might be too much. I need to trim the book down anyway. At that time, I started getting a lot of ideas for Lycanthrope and work furiously on it for a while until I started running out of ideas. I still intend to finish both asap though.

At that point, I started getting a lot of ideas for The Chamber Magazine and started working furiously on that. Now, I have it at a good point, so I can now get back to writing on Shadows and Stars for a while.

I have made a lot of format changes (mostly simplifying things) and some behind the scenes mechanical changes as well, fine tuning it to attract a lot more writers as well as readers. I have also had it listed on two submission engines, Duotrope and The Submission Grinder and with Arkansas Writers. I will submit it to others, including the Horror Writers Association soon.

I have also examined the statistics for The Chamber since resurrecting it (it had been a failed project of mine that had been languishing in the background for several years) and wrote up a summary that can be used as something of a media kit to publicize it and to submit it to different organizations for listing. A copy is below for your information and edification.

The Chamber Magazine, an online magazine headquartered near Gillett in Arkansas County and founded by Phil Slattery, is seeking submission of quality short, contemporary dark fiction (of any genre) and dark poetry (of any style) . It can be found at https://thechambermagazine.com.

The Chamber has been operating since December 2020 and has been steadily growing. To date, the website has had 8,083 hits. It has from 15-270+ visitors/week resulting in 100-800+ views/week. Because The Chamber is striving to create a worldwide readership, since our opening we have had visitors from 65 nations. 

The Chamber accepts submissions from writers of all experience levels from around the world. Some of its writers have only a few publication credits of short stories while others, such as Niles Reddick and Marcelo Medone, are professional writers with several novels to their credit. 

The Chamber is looking for articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately 7,500 words or less including flash, micro fiction, smoke longs, drabbles or of any flavor of short fiction that demonstrates the art of writing dark fiction, whether it be prose, poetry, one-act plays, or any other form of literature. The Chamber wants to showcase the genre in all its subtlety, intelligence, art, horror, terror, suspense, thrill-seeking, and gruesome detail. The Chamber will also accept dark humor provided it follows the guidelines below with regards to content and good taste. At this time, The Chamber is not interested in anything of the erotica or young adult genres. Specifics are available on the submissions page of the website: https://thechambermagazine.com. Visit the website to find out more.

There is no pay for submissions except for a publication credit and exposure to the market. However, the writer keeps all rights to his/her work. Often, The Chamber offers (by invitation only) its more experienced writers the chance to participate in an interview of about fourteen questions.

The Chamber will accept reprints, multiple submissions, and simultaneous submissions.  

The Chamber can be found on Duotrope (Duotrope: Find markets. Track submissions. Get published.) and The Submission Grinder (The Submission Grinder (diabolicalplots.com)).

All submissions, queries, and questions should go to thechambermagazine@gmail.com.

Photo of woman in red turtleneck with face mask
Prevent the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Follow federal, state, and local guidelines. Use common sense when the guidelines are insufficient.

Update December 12, 2019, 11:11 p.m. House and the Golden Bowl

Working late at night in an IHOP in Midland, Texas, May 2019 (photo by Francene Kilgore-Slattery)

For a week or more, I have been making some progress on Shadows and Stars bit by bit, a sentence or word at a time. In the background, because my place is so solitary and quiet, I have been running re-runs of House in the background (I have the series on DVD). I am on disc four of season six currently on the episode entitled “Private Lives”. In one scene early on, Taub and the others go to House’s office to give him an update on the patient and, of course, to seek his counsel. House is sitting in a chair reading when they enter. If you look closely, you will see the book is The Golden Bowl by Henry James. I looked up The Golden Bowl on Wikipedia, which has a nice article. I am puzzled as to why House is reading that. Maybe Hugh Laurie is reminding the audience with a subtle poke that he is English. I checked his bio on Wikipedia and he doesn’t seem to have any personal connection with the book, like being in a movie or play about it.  Though he wrote a popular book (The Gun Seller), he doesn’t seem to have any other affinity or association with literature. Maybe it’s just a favorite book or maybe its story line (about marriage and adultery) relate to the story somehow. Oh, well, it just has my curiosity. Its appearance seems sort of out of place. It may have some subtle meaning or is perhaps an Easter Egg of some sort. I will have to pay attention as I play this episode.

On another note, I think I have hit upon an idea as to how to fill the last major gap in the story line for Shadows and Stars. Of course, I won’t reveal it here. It’s just a rough idea at this point. However, it should be very interesting.

Hasta Luego.

Update: November 5, 2019, Writing and Playlists

Working late at night in an IHOP in Midland, Texas, May 2019 (photo by Francene Kilgore-Slattery)

Yesterday and tonight, I have made some progress in critical plot junctures in Shadows and Stars.

I went to Dumas yesterday to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. I stayed to have a good, tasty dinner of Enchiladas Verdes at El Toro. Afterwards, I stayed close to three hours to write. I got home around 9:30 or 10:00. I had a pain (muscle strain) in my right leg, so I took some Tylenol PM and lay down and listened to more of The Exorcist on audiobook until the pain went away and I could sleep.  I dozed off at some point, then finally rose and went to bed around 1:30. Then I had an idea pop up around 2:00, so I had to get up and write it down before it escaped. So I didn’t get to sleep until close to 3:00. I had to rise at 7:00 to go to work. It’s a good scene, a fun scene that will mix together comedy, drama, and suspense into a few tense minutes.  You’ll have to read the book to find out more. I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

Tonight, I went into Dumas to pick up some groceries. Afterwards, I had the special plate (chile relleno, tamale, enchilada, taco, chalupa, rice and beans) at El Toro, then stayed to write for a couple of hours. I made good progress jotting down ideas I have been having since this morning and filling plot holes in Shadows and Stars.

I decided to make a playlist for each of my works for sale on Amazon as well as for my works in progress. Though this will take some time, it will be interesting and fun…when I am not writing for whatever reason. I hope some of you have been listening to the playlists I already have up. I am really experimenting with trying to capture the mood of a work by producing a sort of soundtrack, hoping that if people listen to the soundtrack, they might become interested in the book. Sort of like when you buy a movie soundtrack at a store without having seen the movie. The soundtracks also help stimulate ideas or set the mood to work on Shadows and Stars. If you listen to any, let me know what you think. I am still tinkering with setting the tunes in an order that best captures the ebb and flow of the mood in the work.

I have only a couple of rudimentary test videos up now. I hope to make some headway soon in developing more professional ones.

I am really enjoying the audiobooks available on YouTube. I have really been catching up on my reading. I can turn on an audiobook, stretch out, and it’s like having someone read a long bedtime story to me. However, my bedtime stories tend to be quite serious in nature: works by Kafka, William Peter Blatty, Dostoevsky, Hesse, etc.

Although my website is not getting many views, the few I get are from all around the world. Today, I had visitors from:

Countries list
Visitors to my website on November 5, 2019, came from these nations.

The Arkansas County Writers Circle website had only three views today, all from Nigeria. Maybe someone from Arkansas is living in Nigeria. In any case, I am happy to have them visit me…unless it’s that phony prince that pesters people for money and promises them a fortune in return. I should find a spot in hell for him in The Man Who Escaped from Hell.

By the way, I am taking a break from reading Upton Sinclair’s The JungleIt’s too depressing. I am now focusing on finishing The Exorcist, which says something about The Jungle. Imagine a book so depressing that one reads The Exorcist for something more light-hearted and fun. After reading the first dozen or so chapters of The Jungle, I have to wonder how humanity has survived for all these millennia without cannibalizing itself. I know Sinclair worked in a stockyard as part of the research for the book, but after having done that and then sitting down to write it, it’s a wonder that Sinclair didn’t just hang himself or lose himself in alcoholism.

That’s all for tonight. Stay tuned. Hasta luego.

Update: YouTube Channel, November 2, 2019, Diegaro

Angel Peak
Angel Peak, Bloomfield, NM, 2019

I have added another playlist to aid in writing Shadows and Stars, During one part of the story, the protagonist, Daryn, and his guide/bodyguard, Sero, are trekking across the deep back country. Though trying to avoid people, as they proceed up a steep-walled canyon, they find a huge festival (think Walpurgisnacht) of believers in primitive religions occupies the far end, though they try to avoid it, a wrong turn takes them directly into its heart.  The festival is called the Diegaro (the Gathering of the Great Gods).

So that I can whip up ideas on how to describe the Diegaro, I have started collecting the type of music that would be played there into a YouTube playlist entitled Diegaro.  This consists of primitive, pagan chants, songs, and instruments but modernized. The songs are mostly strong and powerful (think The Hu), though I will probably also have some softer, meditative music in there as well (think Carlos Nakai). I will listen to these periodically and try to gain inspiration and ideas on how to describe the action at the Diegaro.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Update: October 10, 2019 “Shadows and Stars” and “Nocturne…”

Taking a break from writing at Angel’s Peak Scenic Area, south of Bloomfield, NM, in 2018.

Because I got almost no sleep on Tuesday night, I was dragging all day and managed to get a few words written or deleted for Shadows and Stars. 

I did manage to read through Nocturne… and to at least think about where I should place the newly discovered poems and how the two poems might change the entire collection’s feel.

There is another poem that I would like to include, but it contains one very vulgar word. I may just delete that line. The poem is still powerful, but maybe not as powerful with that line removed, which may be seen as the climax of the poem.  Still, none of the other works in the collection contain an obscenity. I don’t want the collection to be known for this one obscenity, which might brand me as the pornographic poet. This one obscenity might also prevent people from buying the book, if they hear it’s in there. I am trying to make this work very poignant and sensitive, but this one word might offend and/or repel a lot of people.  Using it in a collection like this jars the reader and wakes him/her up, which is good and adds a touch of irony to the poem’s and the collections’ composition. I probably won’t include it.

I have another I would love to include, but its graphic depiction of the narrator being seduced might also be seen as pornography, though it contains no obscenities. Alas, I will have to leave this one out, though I like the idea of the moment of shock that it brings to a sensitive narrative.  I like to shock people on occasion, but using shock must be done with discretion or people become numb to it and it loses its effect over time.

Hopefully, I will make some progress tonight. Congestion is making it a little tricky to focus.

I don’t recall exactly, but I am at around 85,000 words for Shadows and Stars with my goal to be around 80,000-100,000.  I think it will take another 10,000-15,000 words to wrap this up nicely. I will go over 100,000, if that is what it takes to tell the story.

I enjoy editing and toying with words to get my message across exactly as I picture it in my mind.  Checking details to eliminate plot holes or inconsistencies is also a weird sort of fun. I can get lost in editing and time passes before I know it. It was in either “The Telltale Heart” or “The Black Cat” that Poe talks about the passing of so many hours “of the time that flies”. I love that expression.

Hasta luego.

 

Update: October 6, 2019, 3:49 p.m. CDT, Foray Back into Short Stories and Horror

Selfie with Lotus in background near Arkansas Post, September 4, 2019

Yesterday, I did no serious writing, taking only some notes during the course of the day.  Most of the day was spent still putting up a few things after my recent move to Arkansas and doing a lot of laundry. I did come up with some ideas regarding some short stories I put on the back burner a year or so ago after deciding to focus my efforts on my upcoming sci-fi novel Shadows and Stars.

Over the last few days, I have been checking the stats for my negligible sales of my various short story collections. I thought it would be a good idea to produce a second edition of The Scent and other Stories  after adding my short story recently published by FictionontheWeb.co.uk, “Be-Bye”. I thought of finishing another neglected story and adding it to A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror also.  Then I went back over my drafts and decided that I need to need to finish up several stories, over the next several months, and put some on them into their own collections.

I have had plans to write some more stories featuring Quinn Gallagher, who appears in two of my shorts in The Scent and Other Stories and put them in their own collection with the working title of Tales of Quinn. As with the two stories where he is featured (“The Scent” and “The Slightest of Indiscretions’), these stories will be about the ups and downs of Quinn’s love life. Of course, “The Scent” and “The Slightest of Indiscretions” will be included in the collection. The one I will probably work on a bit in the next few days will be “Désirée”. I have ideas flowing for it now.  I have not decided whether he will be seen in the background of one entitled “Fleur-de-Lis”, set in the Philippines in the late 1980’s. “Fleur-de-lis” is not far from completion.

Another group of stories that I have in mind are ones featuring Malcolm Flynn. Malcolm has not yet appeared as a character in any of my short stories, though he might be mentioned offhandedly in one or two at most. He is an important character in my horror novel The Man Who Escaped from Hell, which I intend complete just after I finish Shadows and Stars. I already have 80,000+ words for The Man Who Escaped from Hell, and was working on it until a few months ago, when the ideas for Shadows and Stars started pouring in and I was struggling to come up with any for The Man Who… So, I decided to focus on Shadows and Stars and come back to The Man Who… 

Malcolm is a single, early-middle-age writer living in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is known in the clubs and social scene in Corpus in the early 2000’s, when some of the later action in the The Man Who… takes place. He becomes a close personal friend of the The Man Who…‘s main character, Jake Brody. I use conversations between him and Jake to bring out the inner turmoil of Jake and to give the reader a different perspective on Jake. I have always intended to have Malcolm feature in his own short stories, but not to gather them in a collection, although that’s not entirely ruled out.  As with Quinn, a lot of the Malcolm stories will focus on the ups and downs of Malcolm’s Byzantine love-life,  but it also feature some stories from the Corpus Christi club scene in the early 2000’s. I have always had it in the back of my mind to make Malcolm an important character in his own right, and I may do that yet, though I have no novels planned where he is the main character.  Malcolm is an easy-going, savvy, Casanova-type. who usually wears a black suit sans tie, with a solid-color shirt, usually black or deep red. Often he wears a silk handkerchief in his coat pocket and he smokes small Nicaraguan cigars.

Currently, I have planned three stories to feature Malcolm: “American Dream”, “Nancy”, and “Carole.” I hope to finish “American Dream” before too long.

I have a few more science-fiction and horror stories in mind. One I hope to finish soon has the working title of “Charades”. It involves what happens to a captured alien general after his space fleet loses a battle with Earth forces over Denver.

Father Urbain Grandier, 1627

Two others are “Father Lactance”, a historical fiction which involves the witchcraft trial of Father Urbain Grandier in Loudun, France in 1634. Another, also based in history, is “Beneath Castle Bathory” (working title).  This involves the historical Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is accused of the torture and murder of dozens of young servant girls, if not hundreds, around 1600-1612. Several movies and books have been written on both Father Grandier and Countess Bathory.  I intend to give my take on each story. “Father Lactance” is not far from completion. I have yet to complete a first draft of “Beneath Castle Bathory”. Eventually, I will probably add them, as well as “Charades” to my collection A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror.

The only thing preventing me from finishing “Father Lactance” is that I want to read Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun before completing it, so that I can further nail down the historical details and background.

Elizabeth, Countess Bathory

Anyway, most of the writing I did yesterday was jotting down some notes about my plans for upcoming short stories, which I did in my notebook for Shadows and Stars. I had intended to come up with and jot down some ideas for Shadows and Stars, but ended up writing down ideas for my short stories. Most of these I did while at dinner at El Canaveral Mexican Grill in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

El Canaveral has good food. It may be (I don’t really know for certain) part of the same chain as Ameca in DeWitt, Arkansas.  Some of the menu items are the same. I had the pollo sabroso with rice and beans and a side of nopales (prickly-pear cactus) followed by a dish of Mexican apple pie. I do miss New Mexican and Texas cuisine. Nopales are commonly served scrambled with eggs for breakfast in south Texas.  They can be found in other dishes as well.

I have always loved short stories, especially scary or mysterious ones, like the ones written by Poe or Conan-Doyle. This is one reason I decide to publish a weekly horror story or poem from the nineteenth or early twentieth century on this website each Saturday night at 8:00 pm. (Central time) in what I call “The Saturday Night Special”. Watch for it. Coming up on the 12th is Poe’s “Ligeia”.

Anyway, that’s my update for today.

Hasta luego.

Update: September 6, 2019, Marketing and Publicity and other Writing Demons

Selfie with Lotus in background near Arkansas Post, September 4, 2019

So far I have spent a small part of the day posting ads for my works for every day up to October 6. I neglected to do so for August and the few sales I have had show that.

Last night I went to dinner at Hoot’s Barbecue in McGehee, AR. The food is good. Hoot’s seems to be the social navel of the county and surrounding area. It’s the hot spot on the weekends. I happened to be in Dumas running errands as the time for the dinner approached.  To go from Arkansas Post to McGehee, my co-workers had to pass through Dumas. We arranged to meet in the Mad Butcher (yes, that is a business. Inexpensive meat) parking lot. As I had about an hour to kill, I went to the nearby El Toro Mexican restaurant and had some iced tea and jotted down notes about Shadows and Stars. I think I came up with a really good twist for the end of the story. Something hopefully unpredictable and jaw-dropping that will make readers drop their margaritas and stand up to scream “Of course!” to the heavens.

I like El Toro. I may go there to write when I can. The food is also good. Surprisingly, there is a good Mexican restaurant called Ameca’s in DeWitt. If you find yourself in this area, I recommend it highly. I had the combo Fajitas Hawayanas (Hawaiian fajitas). It contains the usual beef, chicken, and shrimp plus pork and pineapple and a light cream-like sauce, whose name I don’t recall. It was really tasty and plentiful. Prices are reasonable.

Yesterday, I visited the public library in Dumas. It’s a very small affair behind the police station. It has maybe ten free-standing bookshelves at most, some bookshelves lining the walls, and about half a dozen computer terminals. It also has a small display of Egyptian statues that a deceased patron collected on her trips to Egypt and bequeathed/donated to the library. The labels were accurate as far as I could tell. However, the display also included some foreign currency.  One bill was a 100-drachma note from Greece (I read some Greek). However, it was labeled as one Egyptian pound. I found the Egyptian pound taped to the side window (of course inside the case). I told the librarian on duty about the mix up and she said she would mention it to someone. She seemed rather indolent to me.

I went to Stuttgart, AR, on Monday. It’s a nice little town about 40 miles from here. It has an active little arts center. I may get involved there and try to establish another writer’s circle. It’s a little closer than Pine Bluff.

 

Update: June 8, 2019, 4:48 p.m. “The Man Who Escaped from Hell”

One of my concepts of cover art for The Man Who Escaped from Hell using an alternate title. The locket is a significant detail in the overall story. The graphic is from the public domain, but it dovetails nicely with the story and provided inspiration for the inclusion of a locket.

After reviewing the word counts on my three novels in progress, I realize that I should be focusing on The Man Who Escaped from Hell (working title), which is by far the furthest along at 84,000+ words. I want it between 80,000 and 100,000. Shadows and Stars…, however, is at 54,000+ with the same goal of 80,000-100,000. Another, The Long-Pig Inquiry, (working title, sci-fi/horror), is at around 34,000+ with the same goal. I worked most recently on The Man Who… over the Fall and Winter, but the ideas would not flow, but ideas for Shadows and Stars… were coming constantly and still are.  Ideas for The Long-Pig Inquiry come occasionally.

But with The Man Who… being closest to a complete first draft, I will take some time to review its status and see if I can stimulate enough ideas to bring it to a well-crafted conclusion.  I do not want this to be some (pardon my French) half-assed hack work. I want it to be a true work of art. I will have to continue with Shadows and Stars… simultaneously, because the good ideas keep coming.  It would be foolish to let them slip away.

By the way, “long pig” is a term cannibals of New Guinea reportedly use to refer to the flesh of humans, much as we use “pork” to refer to the flesh of swine. The taste is said to be similar to that of pork.

Of course, the subject of The Man Who… is a man who literally escapes from Hell, but there is a twist revealing that escaping from Hell is not as simple as one would think, not that escaping from Hell would be ever be simple.

One thing I have learned in writing these posts, is that it is fun to tease the audience with the superficial details of a mystery and this helps me learn how to hold an audience in suspense.

 

Update: June 5, 2019 5:22 p.m.

I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, though I had a couple of ideas. Too tired from a busy workweek so far. I am hoping to get something done this evening. My conscience is weighing upon me. I feel guilty when not writing.  Anymore, writing is the most exciting thing I do.

I am experimenting occasionally with different ways to stimulate ideas as well as my writing.  One is to make the writing more realistic not only by writing about past experiences and expanding on them (like Hemingway), but by trying to live the story as much as possible. For one work-in-progress (WIP), I set part of it in Farmington, so that I could go to the places I mention and see and experience what the characters would see and experience at the time described in the book. Parts of Shadows and Stars… is set in desert or plains areas like those around where I live in the Four Corners area.  Come to think of it, there are mountains north of here around Durango, CO.  I should set some of the book in the mountains in areas similar to where I have hiked.

I have been toying with the new website format. I haven’t received any submissions yet. I enjoyed being an editor, when I was working at it more diligently than I have in a long time.

I have already programmed The Saturday Night Special out to August and much advertising of my works through the end of June.

I am listening to the CD “The Best of Cusco” (1997) right now as I take a brief break.  I  really enjoy this album.  In 1997, I was just out of the Navy and trying to establish myself as a photographer and a writer (I meandered off that career path sometime back to my regret). That was in the age of film cameras and I was doing some work for a small magazine in Kentucky among other things. I had my own dark room set up in my sister’s house. I loved working there and I played this album a lot.  Anytime I listen to it now, I can visualize the red darkroom light and the mingled smells of developer, stop bath, and rinse.  I loved the creative process of photography. Watch a photo form in the developer was always like magic.  I never tired of it. Digital photography, which was just coming onto the scene then, took all that away.

Update: May 1, 2019, 1:23 a.m.

I just now finished typing up the first draft of my new sci-fi short story, “The Charade”, 2,167 words. This will be set in the future, after a battle over Denver, during which US forces repelled an invading alien armada. The US commander has captured the alien commander and is interrogating him to an extreme. There is lots of subtext and intrigue and a twist at the end.

Earlier today, I wrote a one-sentence story and submitted it to Roarreadingseries.com. They provided the prompt “thrift store”. My story is probably more gruesome than they anticipated receiving.  The deadline is May 5.  Hopefully, I will hear soon after that.