Category Archives: the curiosity killers

Dog Con IV, October 2015, Philadelphia

Recently, I attended Dog Con IV in Philadelphia. This event, celebrating releases from Raw Dog Screaming Press and its imprints, included a group tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary, readings from thirteen RDSP and Dog Star Books authors, and the transfer of the Readers’ Choice Award from last year’s winner Matt Betts to this year’s, Stephanie Wytovich. More fun-filled adventures took place on Sunday, but sadly I had to depart early that morning and missed more readings and signings. Pictures from the event are trickling out slowly over at my Instagram account, @kwtk, and Twitter, @kwtaylorwriter.

In addition to fangirling all over the authors I already knew and adored, I got to meet lots of new folks and heard some amazing bizarre fiction that made my brain hurt (in a good way). As always, Dog Star SF/F authors K. Ceres Wright (Cog), J.L. Gribble (Steel Victory and the just-announced sequel Steel Magic), Albert Wendland (The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes), and Matt Betts (Odd Men Out and Indelible Ink) brought their A game. I was delighted to also get to hear readings by new-to-me DS author Drew Conry-Murray (co-author of Wasteland Blues, with Scott Christian Carr) and was massively impressed by poet impresario B.E. Burkhead (The Underside of the Rainbow). Stephanie Wytovich is doing the amazing feat of turning one of her poetry collections (Hysteria) into a novel, and her reading featured both poetry and prose versions of the same scene; the effect of this was pretty fabulous and even gives me ideas for my creative writing pedagogy. Leland Pitts-Gonzalez (The Blood Poetry), D. Harlan Wilson (premiering his newest release, Battle without Honor or Humanity Volume 1), and Michael Arnzen (The Gorelets Omnibus among others) left the audience questioning the nature of reality, and horror authors Andy Deane (All the Darkness in the World) and Donna Lynch (Driving through the Desert among others) showed us the far pendulum swings of their subgenres from the darkly funny to the deeply affecting.

Prior to Saturday night’s readings was the aforementioned prison tour. Eastern State Penitentiary is a fascinating historical site, tragedy-filled not only for what went on there during its years of operation but for what it attempted to do yet couldn’t—rehabilitate inmates through solitary confinement. Our tour guide was a wellspring of both history and sociology about the prison system at the turn of the twentieth century as well as incarceration trends up to the present day. So while it was very cool on one hand to see decaying post-Victorian quasi-ruins and apply our observations to horror work or period pieces as fiction writers, it was also fascinating to think about the implications and relevancy to issues we still face in the US today regarding crime, race, and gender, and the oftentimes too dichotomous purposes of imprisonment (rehabilitation versus punishment). I’ve already discussed this tour with my women’s studies students, in fact, during a class session on women giving birth in prison.

Between the prison and the evening’s main event, attendees scattered to different museum sites around the city. K. Ceres Wright and I chose to stroll through the Rodin Museum, which proved a nice reprieve from considering heavy social issues. We spent a leisurely afternoon appreciating Auguste Rodin’s skills with the sculpture medium, primarily of faces and figures. This is the largest collection of Rodin pieces outside of Paris, and includes both originals and castings. Several versions of the iconic Thinker adorn the grounds, as does a copy of The Kiss. I was particularly taken with a portrait bust of playwright George Bernard Shaw, author of Pygmalian.

This whole weekend was well-attended, and it was amazing to connect with so many folks I’d never met, see old friends, and talk more deeply with people who have only heretofore been acquaintances. So much thanks to Jennifer Barnes and John Edward Lawson for making such a great weekend possible. I couldn’t be more excited that my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, will join such great company when it’s released by Dog Star next spring.

And fish store comrades: let’s get to work on those 55 fiction pieces recounting our harrowing brush with death.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under blog, conventions and conferences, Dog Star Books, horror, literature, poetry, publications, Raw Dog Screaming Press, readings and signings, science fiction, the curiosity killers

Confessions of a Writer, Part 6

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I’ve posted my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events. This is the last post in the series. You can find the earlier parts all linked at the end of this set of questions.

1. Who is your favorite author?

Because he’s the first popular fiction author who really got me reading voraciously, Stephen King. It isn’t so much that individual books of his stand out among my favorites, but he definitely taught me through all his work about character and dialogue and the fact that “horror” can mean a lot of different things and be just as subtle a genre as any other.

2. What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

I have several Sam Brody/Red Eye projects I’m working on as well as working on the sequel to The Curiosity Killers, tentatively titled The Girl with Mechanical Wings. I’m also putting out a new edition of my self-published short story collection Grinning Cracks and just released an audio version of my short story “Method Writing.”

3. Where else can we find you online?

Blog: kwtaylorwriter.com, Twitter: @kwtaylorwriter, Facebook: facebook.com/kwtaylorwriter, Instagram: @kwtk, and Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/K.W.-Taylor/e/B005Y183PE

The rest of my Confessions of a Writer series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, books, coming soon, news, publications, steampunk, the curiosity killers, the red eye, writing advice

Confessions of a Writer, Part 5

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

1. What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

I usually turn to books on the craft of writing for those things. Some of my favorites I’ve gone to multiple times include Plot vs. Character, by Jeff Gerke, and Architectures of Possibility, by Lance Olsen. Both books are useful for very different things. Gerke’s book is helpful for constructing plot for fairly straightforward, mainstream work aimed at a popular audience or genre. I’ve gone to some of his charts, graphs, and plotting methods time and again to outline both stories and novels. Olsen’s book is wonderful for idea generation, with lots of fun exercises at the end of each chapter. It’s also great for entirely different fiction than the kind Gerke guides one toward writing; Olsen inspires me to try crazy, experimental stuff that I can make great use of in short stories, especially.

2. Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

I love to read, which I think is a pre-requisite for being a competent writer, but I also love film and television and especially devour anything in the SF/F/H areas. I’m a huge podcast nerd and love finding new ones to listen to on my commute. I also jog extremely slowly and enjoy losing to my friends and family at board games. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a musician, and even though I don’t play anymore, I still have a great affinity for music.

3. What is the best book you’ve read this year?

I was still finishing up both my MFA and a graduate certificate in instructional design this year, and as a result much of what I had time to read all the way through were textbooks on writing, teaching, technology, and e-learning. But I managed to sneakily read the first few books in Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series and absolutely adored the first book, Pines, for its pacing and suspense. I just finished Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train and thought it was quite good. I’m currently reading J.L. Gribble’s Steel Victory and listening to Shelley Adina’s Lady of Devices on audiobook, both of which are wonderful so far and speak to the types of genre fiction I tend to enjoy the most.

4. What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

I started hearing good things about The Gift as a strange little sleeper hit and was really glad I made it a point to not read any reviews before seeing it. I loved Joel Edgerton’s use of atmosphere and place. Thrillers with beautiful cinematography are worth repeat viewings to catch extra nuances each time.

5. What is your favorite book or series of all time?

In adulthood, my favorite is definitely Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, despite the fact that I got busy around the time book 12 came out and haven’t had a chance to get back to it. In childhood, my favorite series was the Wrinkle in Time books by Madeleine L’Engle. My favorite standalone novel is Octavia Butler’s Kindred. I owe a lot to Butler in examining time travel fiction for paradoxes and structure and seamless integration of historical narratives, which I then put to good use in The Curiosity Killers.

1 Comment

Filed under blog, coming soon, publications, the curiosity killers, writing advice

Confessions of a Writer, Part 4

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

1. What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

One of my thesis advisors told me once to focus on one thing at a time, as I’m a habitual multitasker and overextend myself in all areas of my life. As a result, it was hard to get anything done with too many works in progress and too many obligations generally. I’ve learned to better zero in on what’s most important and try hard to get that completed before moving on to the next thing. I now have a color-coded priority list of my writing projects and am doing better with putting some pieces on the back burner. I’ve also learned to say “no” in other areas of my life and understand that to really master your craft, sometimes you have to let go of being the best at absolutely everything in your life. I can be a fabulous writer, but I probably shouldn’t also take up the trombone and expect to be great at that as well. I also probably shouldn’t volunteer to add extra things to my plate unless I’m sure I can devote reasonable time to them. A lot of a writer’s life is time management and prioritizing. When I was finishing the first draft of The Curiosity Killers, I was working full-time, teaching two college classes, and taking three graduate classes. I never sacrificed sleep, but I sacrificed a lot of leisure time. For the overscheduled writer, learn to take tiny breaks and soak up as much joy as you can from them, because they may be few and far between.

2. What advice would you give to another writer?

Perseverance is half the battle. If you really want to be good and successful, don’t give up. Things will happen that discourage you, but if you put your focus on your own work, try to make it high quality, and don’t compare yourself to others, you will likely find a lot of satisfaction. Also, don’t go into this thinking you’re getting a six-figure, 1970s-style multi-book deal. Money shouldn’t be your endgame, nor should quitting your day job. That era is gone, if it ever existed. Carve out a niche for yourself among your peers, among people who like the kind of stories you tell, and with publishers who believe in your work, and keep at it. Keep making it better. Keep taking the advice of people who’ve been doing it longer and whose work you admire on artistic merits. The saying used to be “Do what you love; the money will follow.” I think in the current state of the industry, it should instead be “Do what you love, get better, don’t stop, and you will achieve something with your work that will bring you satisfaction.” For some people, that satisfaction might come in the form of money, but for others, it might come solely from critical acclaim or respect from peers or students. And if you’re writing what you really believe in, that will be more than enough.

3 Comments

Filed under blog, books, coming soon, publications, the curiosity killers, writing advice

Confessions of a Writer, Part 3

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

1. How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

I don’t get to write every day, but I try to, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. I write either on my lunch hour or for a few hours in the early evening. Weekends are tough while the weather’s still good, because I like to get outside and gather inspiration. When I do NaNoWriMo, I sometimes do a bootcamp weekend day of writing for up to eight hours with just a few breaks. When I start to get in the “zone,” I try not to stop! The last few chapters of The Curiosity Killers were written on weekend-long writing binges, and I distinctly remember working for hours on my laptop at my dining room table one fall evening, beaming with excitement when I could finally type “The End.”

2. Did you go to college for writing?

I did my undergrad in communication, focusing on radio and TV broadcasting. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a disc jockey (instead, I used that experience as inspiration for Sam Brody’s career and workplace in The Red Eye). As I took more classes in literature and writing, however, I considered changing my major to English but was too far invested in finishing within four years. I went to grad school, first getting an MA in literature with a little creative writing coursework and then in June of ’15, I finished an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Even my com major had a lot of writing in it, however, including a course in TV screenwriting, which is something I’d like to do more of in the future.

3. What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?

None of these are awesome. Spelling errors bother me the most, because in this age of spellcheck, we should all know better. I am a comma perfectionist and realize not everyone else can be, so punctuation errors don’t bother me quite so much. Grammar errors get fuzzy once we’re talking about creative writing or style choices, and grammatical rules evolve over time. I’m becoming less of a prescriptivist the older I get.

1 Comment

Filed under blog, books, coming soon, graduate school, publications, school, the curiosity killers, the red eye, writing advice

Confessions of a Writer, Part 2

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

  1. What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The first concrete piece I remember writing that I think would qualify as a real piece of fiction was a short story I wrote in high school called “The Conspiracy to Catch Dierdre Long.” It was a romantic comedy about two teachers set up by their students. I also remember writing a horror romance in early college—the title now escapes me—about a rock star who quits performing to lead a quite life out of the spotlight but is then found out by a stalker.

  1. What’s the best part about writing?

The best part about writing is shutting out the real world for a bit and envisioning my scene. I try to engage all five senses and truly feel as if I’m my point-of-view character, then just allow the scene to play out, seeing how it would unfold both adhering to my outline and perhaps deviating from it, and experiencing moments for their greatest emotional and thematic impact. I like being able to slow moments down and speed them up and experiment with them until I’m happy with how they look and feel in my mind’s eye as I get that first draft down on paper. Revision is somewhat painful and tedious, though necessary of course, and pre-writing activities (outlining, character creation, getting the essential elements decided) is also sometimes tedious. The idea generation stage doesn’t bother me, as I tend to have strange concepts occur to me at odd times, which I then just file away in a notepad document on my phone to comb through later when it’s time for the next project. But it’s that golden time of the actual hands on the keyboard, first draft where everything just flows out and gets filtered through my brain that is the most creative, zen-like time of my day. I can imagine and create and first draft for several hours at a time and feel like barely a second has passed. That is when I truly feel like my best self, like I’m engaged in what I was always meant to do.

  1. What’s the worst part about writing?

Even worse than revision is proofreading copy prior to going to press. By that point, I’ve read and re-read the material so much that I’m blind to the tiniest of errors. I usually read aloud, very slowly, or enlist a second reader to help so that I can actually catch any final typos that even my editor missed.

  1. What’s the name of your favorite character and why?

In everything I write, I tend to get a favorite character and enjoy working on their scenes quite a bit. In my Red Eye series, it’s Sam Brody, a damaged, snarky guy who’s flippant to a fault. With Sam, I tried to design a character around the premise “What if the ‘breakout character,’ the audience favorite, the comic relief, the ‘Fonzie,’ if you will, was the protagonist?” The thing about a comic relief character is that you don’t necessarily want them foregrounded all the time, as their attitude can often be their downfall. It definitely is with Sam, which is why he’s kind of an almost anti-hero in a way, suffering from a need to entertain himself and others even when the fate of the world is at stake. In my upcoming science fiction novel The Curiosity Killers, I’m quite fond of Eddy Vere, the “mad scientist” character, as well as Rupert Cob, the playboy adventurer. Both are complex creatures, but Vere is more damaged and full of gravitas, while Cob is more a mixture of two types of hero: comedic and tragic.

1 Comment

Filed under blog, books, coming soon, publications, the curiosity killers, the red eye, Uncategorized, writing advice

Confessions of a Writer, Part 1

To celebrate next year’s release of my first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, I will be posting my responses to the Confessions of a Writer Tag survey (http://nicoletteelie.com/2015/10/02/the-confessions-of-a-writertag), with a few responses to each of the twenty questions parsed out over October and November interspersed with other news and events.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

 I first began writing in early elementary school, spending my summers on short stories that, in retrospect, were obviously terrible. By high school, I had better figured out that character and plot were vital to storytelling. I used to want to be an actor, actually, until I figured out that writers are actually actors, directors, art directors, cinematographers, and producers of their own movies in a way. Writing a book, therefore, is more creatively fulfilling than just doing one of those jobs.

What genre do you write?

I write science fiction, fantasy, horror, experimental fiction, and have lately been trying some romance, YA, and mystery, though just in the planning stages so far. I don’t want to be constrained to a specific genre but want to tell the best stories I can that continue to challenge me. With my short fiction, I tend to be more offbeat and try things out that I might not do in a full-length novel, making my short pieces much more surreal as a result.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

I have two main works-in-progress going right now: finalizing things with my forthcoming novel The Curiosity Killers, to be released in 2016 from Dog Star Books, and The Skittering, the next work in my Red Eye series (the first two volumes of which were released by Alliteration Ink in 2014). The Curiosity Killers began life as a short story back in 2011. I fleshed out the idea into a full novel and used it as my MFA thesis at Seton Hill University from 2013 to 2015. It’s my first science fiction novel—I’ve written a lot of short SF before but never anything this long or this ambitious—and it required lots of historical research due to its time travel plot. I began The Skittering in late 2014 but haven’t been able to prioritize it until the first draft of The Curiosity Killers was done. My Red Eye series as a whole has been a long time in the works—the first book was originally a NaNoWriMo project several years before its eventual release. After The Skittering, I have at least one more book planned in the series.

3 Comments

Filed under blog, books, coming soon, the curiosity killers, the red eye, writing advice