Monday, June 25, 2012

Back to Dagobah

So, now that the book is out, and I'm spending a good amount of time trying to promote it, I've realized that I haven't done any new writing recently.

If you've been following along thus far, you may recall that I set two goals for 2012 - # 1 was to release the collection (check!) and #2 was to get the first draft of a novel under my belt.

What I didn't count on, though it's happened before, is the weird feeling of creative exhaustion that seems to take me over after I've finished something major. Every time I end a story that's taken longer than two or three weeks to finish, I find that I just have no mind left to switch to something else. It's like that right now, having done the book.

This obviously can't continue, as the only way that you get any better at writing is to keep writing. Since it's my sincerest wish to become "good" at this, I therefore need to keep writing. 

I couldn't in good conscience use a
pic of Yoda spinning around like a green
Sonic the Hedgehog.
As of right now, I've been picking away at little challenges, like oneword. What is really helping though, is going back and reading some of the great books on the craft that I have, like John Gardner's The Art of Fiction, Robert McKee's Story, and (of course) On Writing. That's where the title of today's post comes from  - I feel a need to get back in touch with some of the tools of the craft, and find places in story telling that I haven't worked on enough to call them my own yet.

Because reading isn't writing, my tentative plan for the immediate future is to read a little of these guides, and then sit down and write for awhile. A page a day seems within the realm of possibility, so that will be my benchmark.

In the meantime I’ll still be doing some book-promote-y things. At the moment I’ve got two tentative blog-stops to talk about the collection (and please do contact me if you’d like to be the third!) and I’m trying to get some other vehicles moving as well.

More news as it happens. 


Take that adverbs!

Oh – there IS one more thing. Who wants to do a Shootout with me?

Martin T. Ingham, one of the mods at Pill Hill Press, and an impressively accomplished Sci-Fi writer in his own right, is doing a writer’s shootout in July. If you’ve never done one, it’s a team-based writing competition. There’s usually either two or three teams of five writers, and four rounds of writing. You write a story in a week, then take a week to review the other team’s stories (at random, no names are attached). Points are awarded. The format changes from time to time, but usually after round three, people get eliminated, and those with the most points go on.

What you need to know – shootouts are tremendous fun, and you always end up with a great amount of useable (and unpublished) material!

If you’re interested, here’s the link. You’ll need to register for the forum, and take it from there. It’s first come/first served, and 100% of what you need to know is posted on the forum. Hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Gathering Darkness - A Chance to Get it FREE

Coming in on the first week of sales for Gathering Darkness, and sales are happening! Thank you to everyone who's ordered a copy / downloaded the book to Kindle.

To keep the momentum going, I've got THREE (3) review copies to give away.

The only caveat is that, if you receive a copy, I'd really, really appreciate a review on the Amazon site of your choosing.

The first five people to comment below requesting a copy will receive an electronic the format of their choosing.

Also - for all you bloggers out there, I'd be thrilled to drop by any of your sites and have a chat about the book, and bring another copy with me as a give away to your visitors.

Let the fun begin!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Chris Allinotte presents: Gathering Darkness

I am very happy to be able to announce that my collection of short stories, Gathering Darkness, is now available!

This book includes twenty-eight stories - some of my favourites from the past four years of writing "publicly".  Many of the tales have seen publication around the web, and in some small press anthologies.

Because I was fortunate enough to find my way into so many different and welcoming markets, I am positive that not everyone has read everything in this book. That's an easy guarantee to make, as three of the longer stories have never been published.

One of these - Coming Home - opens the collection, and without exaggerating, I feel like it's one of the best things I've written to date. And if you look at the "preview" of the book on Amazon, you'll be able to read Coming Home for free!

For those of you who have read a lot of my stuff in the past - thank you! To you I'd like to let you know that each and every story has had a brand new edit for this collection. For most stories, this resulted in only superficial changes, but for a few - it made a huge difference, and now there's something new to discover!

If you've never read a story of mine, then I'd like to reassure you that I'm actually a very nice person.

So, if you'll just step this way, out of the direct sunlight, I have something to tell you...


Gathering Darkness is available in any format you'd care to own:

Paperback from here or here
Kindle Edition from here or UK edition here
ePub from Smashwords here

More venues to be announced as they come available (working on it!)

Friday, June 8, 2012

An Evening at The Cabaret of Dread

An Evening at The Cabaret of Dread

Chris talks to the Queen of Macabre, Lily Childs

Lily Childs is the author of the Magenta Shaman serial novel, and has previously published a collection of her dark poetry on Kindle as well. Recently, Lily made the difficult and brave decision to give up her immensely popular weekly writing challenge, “The Prediction”, in order to devote more time to her own writing, which includes a second volume of shorts, an as-yet-to-be-revealed novel, and numerous other projects that have been waiting for her attention. Throw into the mix her duties as horror editor for Thrillers, Killers n’ Chillers, and it’s nothing short of remarkable that Ms Childs has been as prolific as she has been.
 I recently sat down with her for a cup of tea to discuss her new collection of short stories, Cabaret of Dread, writing in general, and the inspiration of textiles. Granted, the table we sat down at was about an ocean wide, and held together with wifi signals, but for a good chat, it’s all worthwhile!
CA: Thanks for agreeing to this interview Lily, and welcome to the Leaky Pencil’s first ever interview!
Ok - first question: Tell me about Writer's Talkback, Col Bury, and Thrillers, Killers n' Chillers. Was that the beginning of your voice as Lily Childs the horror author?

LC: Back in the olden days of the last decade I took the brave decision of joining 'Talkback', the online forum of the UK's Writing Magazine. By the Christmas of 2008 short horror fiction was almost leaking out of me and I realised I needed to do something serious about it. I didn't want to join a 'real' writers' circle because I had visions of bored vicar's wives and WI ladies writing twee verse about jam and flower arranging. Besides, I'd have had to talk to people face to face and - I know you won't believe this - but I'm very shy.

I joined Talkback in early 2009 and was immediately welcomed and offered lots of support and encouragement which gave me the confidence to start sending my work out. And that's where the marvellous Mr Col Bury came in! Col had read some of my work and suggested I might want to submit something to Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers. So I sent him 'Fashion Victim'. It became my first online publication, and the first of many at TKnC. I haven't stopped since!

Co-editors at TKnC, Col and Matt Hilton are incredibly supportive of new writers. I'm proud to call them friends and honoured to be working with them on such a great ezine.  The quality of work submitted is of such a high standard it's a joy to be able to publish, in my opinion, some of the best short fiction around at the moment. Of course we can't accept everything but each of us editors tries to give pointers and reasons for rejection. After all, we're all writers too and there's nothing so frustrating as a rejection without a clue!

CA: Let's talk a little about that dark fiction and verse for a moment. Your style is absolutely unique in that you mix Victorian elegance and visceral, gushing carnage. There's definite hints of Clive Barker to your work, but the crushed velvet opulence that often surrounds the carnage is all your own. I've often wondered if your stories all exist in the same "world." Does the dancing demon of Dressing Up Box live in the same London as Magenta Shaman?

LC: Yes, the Dressing Up Box demon exists in Magenta's everyday urban world. It has a fondness for human blood and attire, and is a lover of our cultural activities and habits. Like many other of my characters however, it probably also occupies a realm of its own, a parallel plane only thinly separated from ours. Sometimes those planes overlap, and sometimes a hole appears in the veil separating them. Perhaps that's where our dreams take place.

The crushed velvet opulence - I wear a lot of velvet, am sitting on it as I write; I'm staring at red velvet and gilt curtains... One of my favourite places in the world is Borovicks' fabric store in London's Berwick Street. Tall, thin passageways stacked with bolts of taffeta, voile, chintz, silks and more. The smell is divine, the atmosphere makes me breathless and I could roll around in the fabrics until I choked - if only they'd let me.

CA: How would you say these worlds came together when you were compiling Volume 1 of Cabaret of Dread?

LC:  I think they're all over it, as much - if not more - in the short shorts that stitch the whole thing together. Of the eleven longer tales Wraiths and Stays has men descending to base hunger in all its forms whilst spectral females haunt the once-fertile lands, and Hidden Beast sees a caretaker turn feral, almost immortal.

Cabaret contains two crime stories Carpaccio and Pretty Pinholes; not supernatural but they do explore the psychological wickedness of the serial killer. I think these murderers inhabit a different existence, one of arrogance where the concept of right and wrong is irrelevant, where they are able to justify their actions. This state of being is surely and sadly one of mental illness (though this is sometimes questionable) but it is an horrendous one nonetheless that runs parallel with accepted normality.

The other stories - from the undead toys in Smiling Cyrus's attic to the ancient vampires of The Infanta Triptych - clearly blend the surreal creatures from the worst part of our imaginations with mundane human life. Demons, spirits, gods... they all converge, begging worship or sacrifice. To me, they're with us all the time. They're everywhere.


My thanks to Lily for taking the time to let us peek behind the black velvet curtain and find out more about the unique and horrifying world that spawns her stories.

Follow @LilyChilds on Twitter, or check out her blog at Lily Childs’ Feardom, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of “Cabaret of Dread, vol. 1 for your Kindle! (US readers click here.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Big Things are Happening (Starting tomorrow – but hear some of it TODAY!)

The next week or so is going to be a lot of fun, and not just because I’ll be turning my attention back to bear on (taiko drum beat) “THE NOVEL”.  I’ve been so caught up in the non-writing details of my current project, that it feels like I haven’t put pen to paper on something fresh in ages.

Last night I started doing a page (working on the exercise I posted here last week, actually.) It’s horrible stuff.  What’s important though, is why I started it. In reading the outpouring of reminiscence for Ray Bradbury, someone posted a quote that resonated deeply. In short, he said that if you want to be a writer, then you have to write every day – even if you don’t feel like it. I want to be a writer. So I wrote last night. And I’ll write tonight.

Now for some news:

It gives me enormous pleasure to announce that tomorrow, I’ll be hosting my first ever interview here at the Leaky Pencil.

The inimitable Lily Childs consented to sit down to a cup of virtual tea and answer a few questions about writing and her new book “Cabaret of Dread, Vol. 1”. So please join me here for that!

Then, on Monday, I’ll be making an announcement that has been almost a year in coming. It’s a badly kept secret to be honest, but hell, now that the moment’s here, it deserves a little build-up...


I’ll be 37 on Monday.

(cue wacky trombone noise)

But seriously check back on the 11th, as I really do have something else to announce about that is quite exciting.

Until tomorrow!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Who wants to play a game of Half-Life? (No, not THAT one)

About fifteen years ago - a fact which makes my hair that much grey-er in shock, I was part of an Improv Comedy group. It was some of the best fun I've ever had, and as a learning experience, it was second to none.

By playing with my friends in this way, I learned to listen carefully and considerately, and then to react like my ass was on fire.

Now, the reason I'm talking about this is that one of the games we used to play was called "Half-Life". In this game, the performers had five minutes to do a scene about whatever prompt they were given. At the end of that minute, it would be performed again in (say it with me) half the time. Once that time elapsed, it was cut again, and again - until the whole thing usually ended up with a sweaty pile of people in the middle of the stage, usually laughing as hard as the audience.

I think this can be done with writing. If any of you have ever written a flash-fiction story to a certain length, you'll know the horror of trying to trim a killer 2,000 word story into the acceptable 500 limit.

So the game I'm proposing today is this - write a page. Approximately 500 words. For the sake of having a prompt, the theme is "Half".

  • When you're done, cut the story in half. Try to tell the same story in 250 words, keep all the characters and events in. 
  • After that, go for 125. 
  • If you pull that off - can you do 63? 
  • How about telling the same story that you told in 500 words in just 31 words. 
  • Can anyone do it in 15?

Post your best in the comments below. (If this exercise produces a story you like and want to submit somewhere - then please don't post it below.)

Go to it!


FYI: I've started a new blog for my fledgling, author-stable-of-one publishing imprint.

Introducing Vicious Kidd Press. On this site, I'll be giving the insider's view to self-pubbing on CreateSpace!