Pulp Fiction Writer – That’s Me!

August 30, 2009

Ah, the days of pulp fiction. When writers would crank out story after story for a penny a word.

On the DVD, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, which is a documentary about Harlan Ellison (one of the great genre writers of our time), he talks about starting out as a writer in the 50s, writing a 3,000 word story in a night for a penny a word for the pulps, getting $30 for it and being able to eat for that week. It was a factory back then, writing for those pulps.

Oh, and I recommend checking out Dreams with Sharp Teeth. Harlan Ellison is very abrasive (he curses a lot and he admits to mailing a dead gopher to a publisher), and he’d probably tell you that himself, that he’s abrasive, but if you’re a writer it’s an interesting DVD to watch. If you’re a Harlan Ellison fan, like me, definitely a must.

Ellison wrote one of my favorite all-time Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” which stars Robert Culp. If you’ve never seen it I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but it’s worth checking out if you can find it. Harlan also wrote one of the best-loved Star Trek episodes ever. “City on the Edge of Forever”. And his story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”. Just hearing that title still gives me chills.

He goes on a funny but, in my opinion, totally justified rant in the DVD about writers who write stuff for nothing. He adamantly believes that writers should get paid for their work because writing is hard. I hear that!

Now, speaking of pulp fiction, I once had a creative writing teacher in grad school (who happens to be relatively well-known literary writer) tell me that my story about a woman who discovers she’s a werewolf and winds up killing the man who tries to rape her in a park was the kind of story you’d find at airports and/or drugstores (e.g Wal-Mart).

She meant it as a put-down. A put-down that she verbalized in front of the whole class.

Oh, yeah. She did. In front of the whole class.

You see, I was supposed to write about how horrible my childhood was or maybe about my parents divorcing and how it traumatized me or about boozing academics having affairs or something if that ilk.

However, I took what she said as a compliment. I was a pulp fiction writer. Meaning my story was possibly a story ordinary people would want to read!

Yes! Thank you, superior, snooty, grad school creative writing instructor. 🙂

Below is a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal about how plot is starting to reappear in “literary” novels. That writers are kissing Modernism goodbye. Well, if some writers are doing that, it’s probably because they know, as we all do, that, unfortunately, people are just not reading as much as they used to. So you either write what the ordinary person can at least understand (without having some academic standing over their shoulders and explaining what it all means) or you starve.

Good Novels Don’t Have to Be Hard Work

As you can see by two of the pulp fiction covers in this post, a lot of what came out in pulp magazines, like “I, Robot” by Issac Asimov and “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler, are now considered classics of their respective genres.

Seriously, I consider myself a pulp fiction writer, or a trashy writer, or whatever derogatory appellation some snob wants to categorize my writing in. I even had someone say that to me. That I write trash. To my face!

Okay, no problem. I know I’m not some genius writer. I know I’ll never be canonized in the halls of literary achievement. I know for a fact that I won’t win any awards and, heck, I probably won’t even be able to make a decent living at this.

But I love writing and if one person, just one person, reads something I wrote and is able to get outside of his or her head for an hour or so and forget about whatever problems they may have, have a good time doing it and want to come back for more, I’ll be happy.

Yes, very, very happy! 🙂

Pulp On!


Writing While Working

August 29, 2009

The title of my blog post, I realize, can be read two ways. I don’t mean to say I’m working on my writing while I’m at work. I mean to say I’m back to squeezing in my writing before and after work. 🙂

I had said I wouldn’t be posting that much now that I’m working again (only temporarily) but since the nature of my assignment pretty much prevents me from being online at all during the workday, I find myself missing being online.

So, here I am again, posting. 🙂

It’s early Saturday morning and my plans are to go to the library, pick up some books I put on hold and then spend most of today and tomorrow reading and writing.

I was able to slide right back into my very early morning weekday writing schedule and I find that working again has made me more focused. I guess it’s knowing I don’t have all day to write that makes the time I do have to write more precious. Makes me really get down to it.

I’m itching to get back to my steampunk novella but I have to finish up some pending projects (projects I’ve finished but just need to revise or tweak) before I start anything new. So I’m mostly revising right now. But since I consider revising to be the meat and potatoes of the writing process, I’m actually doing my hard-core writing now.

The Avatar teaser trainer is up. I’ve heard that the media vultures are already circling around this movie and declaring it dead. Well, I’m going to go see it (opens December 18th) and if it entertains me and takes me to another world and doesn’t melt my eyes with too much in the way of gratuitous special effects (meaning the special effects serve the story and not the other way around), I’ll be a happy camper.

Here’s a trailer for a new Dorian Gray movie. It’s opening in the UK in September but have no idea if it’s coming to the US. May have to DVD this one if it doesn’t. Not sure if it’ll be up to the standards of the 1945 version but I’ll give it looksee whenever I get a chance to see it.


August 28, 2009

This was my mind yesterday at the temp assignment. Oh, what I’ve been given to do is so simple it’s mind-achingly boring, but the department I’m working in?

I felt like Dorothy in the middle of that twister except I never made it to Oz. People are being moved from cubie to cubie; directives are issued then rescinded; staff is told to go left then immediately afterwards, no go right.

And people wonder why I’d rather make a living writing?

9 to 5

August 26, 2009

I’m going to be working temporarily starting tomorrow.

The job sucks (I’ve worked at this place before though not in this particular job) and so does the pay but one can’t be choosy these days I guess. Fortunately, it is temporary and, with hope, I will find something better.

So, in light of the fact I’ll be at work all day, I will be cutting back my time online substantialy in order to accommodate my writing and will therefore probably only post to this blog once a week. Maybe twice.

I’m sure that will be a blow to the millions of readers of this blog but alas wage slavery calls. Ugh!

But, again, I shouldn’t complain. It’s hard out there and I must be grateful for what I can get but, trust me, this ain’t what I’d usually be trying to get or do if things were a lot better.

I’ll have to go back to my early morning, late evening, weekend writing schedule but most of the writing I’ve done I’ve done while working a 40 hour work week. So no big thang there. Just business as usual.

However, I don’t spend as much time online when I’m working so that I can devote as much of my free time to my writing.

So, anyway, just a FYI about all that as I go off humming Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5.

Workin’ nine to five
What a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’ and no givin’
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it


August 25, 2009

I finished reading the manga series Emma this week and what a delight it was.

I have to admit I usually go for the darker stuff when it comes to my choice of reading material but reading Emma was like drinking tea in a delicate little china cup.

Not that there wasn’t passion and dark moments in the series, but it’s basically a very sweet romance between two people who shouldn’t have fallen in love but did and the forces arrayed against them, both internally and externally, to keep them apart.

It was utterly charming to read and someday I plan to buy the whole series as it’s definitely a keeper. The art work was exquisite and Kaoru Mori conveyed the most delicate and the most passionate of emotions with her drawings. Her research of the Victorian era shows in every panel of this manga and I highly recommend it to anyone who plans to write a Victorian-era story.

Speaking of Victorian-era fiction, Gypsy Scarlett is writing a steampunk. Very cool! I loved steampunk even before I knew what it was. 🙂

I have a steampunk story that I had drafted but set aside to work on something else. After reading Emma I’m itching to get back to it. A book I found extremely helpful—for the domestic side of Victorian life—is Inside the Victorian Home

The book takes you room by room through a Victorian household and is very useful for all the little details you may want to include in your Victorian-set story.

Oh, and still in line with the Victorian Era. If you have the Turner Classic Movie Channel, The Lodger is on tonight at 7:00 CST. It’s a movie I blogged about some time ago. Another version of Jack The Ripper starring Merle Oberon and Laird Creger. It’s very good and very evocative of the period.

But, for now, before I can return to gaslights and corsets, I need to get back to knights, witches and vampires.

Writing is Hard!

August 23, 2009

UPDATE: Oops. Forgot to mention. Star Trek (The Hunky Generation) will be relesed on DVD (a basic and special edition) and Blu-Ray on November 17th! Mark your calendars!


Okay, so the title of the post is what the Prophet Chuck said in an episode of Supernatural I watched last Thursday.

The episode was titled “The Monster at the End of the Book”.

Sam and Dean Winchester come across a series of novels called Supernatural that depicts their lives as demon hunters. The brothers meet the author of the books, Chuck, who tellls them he has visions of Sam and Dean then puts their adventures into his novels.

They also find out that Chuck, who is pretty much a loner, befuddled and drunk most of the time in order to deal with the excruciating headaches his visions bring on, is actually a prophet of God and that the books he’s sorta compelled to write will one day be known as the Winchester Gospels.

He even has a great line when he confronts the demon Lilith. He cries out “I am the prophet Chuck!”

Chuck says that line about writing being hard in response to Sam’s question as to whether Chuck is psychic since he’s having visions about the two brothers. Chuck says, what, are you kidding? If he were psychic he wouldn’t be writing. Writing is hard!

I hear ya!

I love the cover of the Supernatural books Chuck is writing. See how Sam and Dean are portrayed as these old-fashioned romance cover types. Doesn’t that one guy look like Fabio?

A really cute moment is when Sam and Dean go online to learn more about these Supernatural books, which they find in a bargain bin at a store as they aren’t really selling that well.

They comes across a Supernatural Fan Forum and Sam tells Dean that fans are writing slash fiction about them.

Sam then has to explain to a perplexed Dean what slash fiction is.

“Don’t they know we’re brothers?” a totally horrified Dean asks.

Yeah, really. 🙂

Anyway, the show was pretty funny but also quite frightening as at the end—Sam and Dean having gone on their way—Chuck, the writer, wakes up from a dream. An angel is in his house (you see, since Chuck is a prophet of God he’s protected by an archangel and a pretty fierce one at that) but the angel in his house is just one of the foot soldiers.

Chuck tells the angel that the vision he’s just had about Sam and Dean is so horrific he’s going to go and kill himself.

The angel tells him okay, fine, but he’d only be brought back to life.

Anyway, a good show. I enjoyed it.

Since I’m done with my vampire story, I’m working on an erotic fantasy novella I had finished but which needs a bit of tweaking.

Also doing lots of research for two brand new stories I plan to write this fall.

Still can’t believe how fast this summer went! But, to be honest, I’m not much of a summer person anyway. I love Fall. I love Fall colors, the turning of the leaves, I love football, I love thick, warm sweaters and sweet candied apples, big fat pumpkins and Halloween, the smell of new books and crayon boxes (flashing back here to starting school), the cooler, drier weather.

I love Fall! 🙂

Can’t say I’m that much into winter or any of the stuff associated with it. Maybe the first snow fall. That’s pretty.

I guess I wish I could live forever in a land that was autumn all the time.

Vampires on the Brain

August 20, 2009

I’ve got vampires on the brain. I’ve been revising my erotic vampire story. It’s nearly done and I plan to submit it, with hope, today.

I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe the reason there are so many vampire stories being written is because, well, they’re kinda fun to write. Okay, I know that’s not the case but I thought I’d share my insight anyway. I mean, we all know it’s the market that drives what gets published.

Isn’t it?

Hmmm, I think I’ll just drop that particular topic. Whenever I start thinking about what drives what gets published I get a headache.

Suffice to say, I am having fun with this vampire story. Now, my vampire has to be a romantic vampire because I’m writing a romantic erotic vampire story but I find that I enjoy writing a character who isn’t human and doesn’t necessarily feel bound by human laws or morals but, because he’s attracted to the heroine (and also needs to survive), he has to at least adhere to those laws and morals as far as he is able to.

In this particular story I’m not trying to turn the vampire mythos on its head. I pretty much stick with the standard vampire tropes.

So, yeah, I’ve got vampires on the brain. But once the story is done I’ll be turning to another genre, fantasy, for a bit before I go back to the vamps.

Oh, yeah, the pic is of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt from Interview with a Vampire. They’re in New Orleans. Dining.

Notice that strange ring on Cruise’s thumb. That’s what Lestat, the character he plays, uses to open the veins on his victims. Pretty cool if not also utterly morbid.