I’m Free! No More Writing For A While!

Hi, all. Trivial matter, this. I mean, looking at everything else going on around the world – threat of hydrogen testing by the North Koreans in the Pacific, hurricanes and earthquakes coming out of the woodwork, daily protests in the streets, drugs and crime always in the news…me finally getting a break from writing is absolutely inconsequential in the scheme to things. This is not earth shattering, but it matters to me.

My virtual book tour for “Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven” has just one more week to go. I’m done putting the finishing touches on “Obey the Darkness: Horror Stories,” and last but not least, think I’ve finished rewriting the novelette, nee short story, “The Black Cumin Cure.” Of all the prose I’ve ever agonized about in my life, it was this one, hands down.

I first wrote “The Black Cumin Cure” for a sci-fi/horror magazine about three years ago. It failed. I reworked it, sent it to another publisher, and they also passed on it. Thinking the third time the charm, I restructured it and sent it in to a third online magazine publisher. They weren’t interested. Consequently, I let the work die a slow, painful death.

About four months ago, I had another look at it, tweaked it a little, and sent it off. It failed. Subsequent tweaks also failed to get it published. The difference this time around is the publishers all gave me reasons why my work was lacking. Interestingly, some of the critique appeared to contradict the other, making me think me think my work wasn’t what they wanted, not that it was lacking in the grammatical arena. In any case, “Black Cumin” went from a 3,500 word short story to an 8,200 word novelette. I sent it off yesterday to five publishers for consideration. At this point though, even if all five reject it, I’m still going to go ahead and publish as is. It’ll be the third story in “Obey.” The book has 11 stories, so obviously, its ranking at No. 3 is pretty high.

Why did “The Black Cumin Cure” have such a lengthy development arc? It’s sci-fi meets horror, but my original intention was that the horror was the strong parts and the sci-fi, well, not so much. I suppose in this age of technology, I can’t afford to skimp over technical details which, to be fair, I did. The publishers saw through my laziness, though, and call me on it. Drats. I’d hoped they wouldn’t have noticed. Sci-fi is very hard to write. The research I did for “Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven,” itself being mystery/sci-fi, caused me weeks of mental aches and pains. I’m not sure if another horror/sci-fi short of mine, “The Vented Chamber” is a success. If not, my biggest takeaway from all this is this – leave sci-fi writing to William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Larry Niven, John Scalzi, Stephen King, Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis or whoever’s writing sci-fi these days.

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The Soucouyant – Folklore From Trinidad & Tobago

The next horror story I’m going to write is called “From A Blessing To A Curse.” It’s actually an idea I had for a script many moons ago but I think that, as a short story, it should work. (I did the same thing for “Little Hammer,” a short story whose life began as a film treatment). “Blessing” will be the 2nd story in my upcoming book that is based on Trinidad & Tobago folklore. The first was “Red Sand” and the legend in that one is the “La Diablesse,” a mythical woman in an ankle-length white dress, wide-brimmed hat and one cloven hoof for a foot who seduces and lures men to their dooms in the forest. “Blessing” will have two other T&T legends – the obeah woman and the soucouyant. Obeah is witchery. A soucouyant is an old woman who sheds her skin to reveal the flying fireball within. She can enter your house by sliding through the thinnest of niches to suck your blood. If she doesn’t suck your blood for whatever reason she’ll just cuff (punch) you and leave a bruise. There’s also a malevolent spirit that exists in T&T folklore called a “jumbie.” Maybe I’ll introduce him in a 3rd story. We’ll see.