Sunday, 19 February 2017

Dear New Author (1)


Dear New Author,

I'm writing to you about your first book, Sinking In The Amazon. I may write you further letters. I don't know how well you deal with constructive criticism, but having got this far I assume you're pretty good at it. So don't take any of this the wrong way. I know if I revisit my books I'll find improvements that could be made. It's never-ending because our craft keeps improving. Which is a great thing! I count myself lucky that I've worked with literary editors who are straight to the point and pull no punches. Thanks to that I learned a lot each time. Particularly with my first relationship novel, for which I got whacked with the stick so many times I couldn't walk straight.

"Show don't tell!"
"Let the reader do the work!"
"Be more concise!"
"Is this detail really important?"
"You are repeating yourself!"
"Cut to the bloody chase!"

Yes, my editor wrote all those things and more. But they stuck in my mind. Even if you don't want to revisit your book, the stuff you learn after publication will be worth bearing in mind for your next book. You will write one, won't you? The successful writer is the one that doesn't give up. (And the one that keeps improving). So I'll give you some of my thoughts, and I hope you'll see them as well-meaning advice, some of which is vital, some which is hogwash, since I'm no more right than the next man/woman/demon. Though I often edit fiction, so that gives me an edge over supernatural entities that don't.

Firstly: don't be overly disheartened by the negative reviews you received. On the other hand, it is worth analysing any information you can get hold of as to why the people didn't like your book. In some cases it just isn't their cup of tea, or isn't their genre of preference: nothing you can do about that (apart from make sure the cover, blurb and categories metadata are correct and clearly indicate what kind of book it is). But if an issue comes up enough then it is worth considering.

Okay, structure: an issue with your book is that too much of it was setup. According to my Kindle I was 40% through the book before anything major happened, tied to the central arc. Up until then we just followed your protagonist Johnny Bigballs on his daily routine. The novel only really picks up after he finds the gun, so shorten the first bit, get rid of some repetition, get to the hotness sooner, let it shine front and foremost. Every scene in a novel needs to do something concrete in terms of revealing things or moving plot along, not just passing time. If it's really important make that clearer. Because it is good once it gets going! That Johnny, what a character, eh? You just need to crank up the engine sooner. Focus on that escalating series of events - each has to have a greater risk for the protagonist than the last. In terms of how quickly we get to the tension I like to think of other books. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is fantastic (despite that author's abuse of apostrophes). Cormac could have begun the book by showing the relationship of the protagonist with his wife, the war starting, how they survived in the house, the wife leaving - but no. He begins at the point of highest drama, tells the story from there, using flashbacks if required, and it keeps the reader tense. We begin at the core of the real story: the boy and his father. By the way, you might think "I can't shorten the setup, there's so much I need to say" but think about short stories - they might be able to get across a lifetime of background in just a page. Obviously we don't have to do that in novels, we have room to breathe, but we all know it can be done.

Another way to crank it up is to use subplots. Novels need conflict, but apart from the central murder (committed by tickling someone to death, which was certainly original), your novel has no other plots running in parallel, nothing to give it depth. Everyone Johnny meets is really nice to him - colleagues, police, family, friends, torturers. So it is harder for the reader to feel engaged. We need conflict between desires and outcomes, between characters - add some extra strands and increase the tension.

I want to mention use of detail. When to include it, when to omit. It felt like I was often told everything Johnny did, every trip to the toilet, even if it didn't reveal anything new or move the plot along; yet other times I wanted to know details and they weren't given. I'll give some examples.
  • A few times he sat down to watch his favourite old films, and cried: but the films were never named, which makes it feel a bit unreal. It helps to create sounds and memories and tell us more about him if we know what he watched. There's a world of difference between him crying while watching It's A Wonderful Life, versus The Exorcist, or Porky's II: The Next Day.
  • Likewise when Johnny spies on martial arts classes, none of the martial arts are named, turning the concrete to vagueness. Martial arts do not all look, sound, feel or smell the same. There’s variety: from the bangs of judo throws, to the kiai shouts and punches of a karate class sparring, to the silence and effortless throws (and lots of rolling on the floor/ukemi) of aikido. If you spend the time talking about something, piquing the reader's interest, then you have to seal the deal.
Okay, let's look at one error, and ideas for fixing it.

"If Greasy Bill had come over here with the bomb instead of going to the pub. That would be me and my daughters on the news."

The full stop leaves the clause unfulfilled.  It needs joining.

"If Greasy Bill had come over here with the bomb instead of going to the pub that would be me and my daughters on the news."

Or you could pause for emphasis:

"If Greasy Bill had come over here with the bomb instead of going to the pub ... that would be me and my daughters on the news."

Or maybe even better:

"If Greasy Bill had come over here with the bomb instead of going to the pub ..."

i.e. leave it hanging and let the reader do the work. There's often a temptation to explain too much. Sometimes we don't need to. Trust the reader to fill in the blanks.

General tips for you.
  • Don't repeat things multiple times, in different ways. She agreed, then she nodded, then the narrator says she was sure it was right ... This happens quite a bit, and many words could be cut which would speed up the novel.
  • Johnny summons a policeman when he suspects danger next door, but never insists the policeman check inside the house, even though Johnny has a spare key. I wanted to yell at him to do this: Johnny was far too passive. Never miss a chance to let a character make a decision, to overcome a challenge! As it is, this scene is not earning its keep the way it could, tying elements of the novel together, and you missed the opportunity to weave in tension.
Okay, that's me done. Don't be put off, but if a few of those things are useful, or lead to a bit of revision, great. They could help fix some of the criticisms in the negative reviews if you're willing to put in more work. And trust me, nothing I've said is as harsh as what my current editor says to me. Once she told me "I skipped this chapter, pretty much. You'd bored me and I couldn't face it."
After that I went back and did some major re-thinking. And it was all the better for it.

Good luck with the book! I want to know what Johnny Bigballs does next!

Karl

-----

NB This is not a real letter, but it is a combination of points I made in some past editing commissions, anonymised and merged together. There are further examples in my post 13 Tips for Writers. Oh, the book and the characters I refer to are fictitious too. Though I'd possibly buy it if it was published.

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Friday, 17 February 2017

Review: "Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel (A Memoir)"


My review of Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel (A Memoir)

I don't normally read memoirs. They strike fear into my heart as potentially being Trojan horses for egomaniacs. Everyone has a story to tell, why should someone think theirs is of interest to others? Well, the answer is already there - we all have stories to tell. Whether fiction or not, there are patterns in lives, and there are experiences in common, and characters where we can identify feelings and behaviour and say, "Yes, I have felt that too." This is why we read. And that's why it was a pleasure to read this.

Firstly, you can tell you are in safe hands. Jessica knows when we need detail, and when we don't; when the reader can be guided, and when the reader can be trusted; and that restraint was one of the things that first endeared me to the book. Jessica is an experienced author/creator, and this is far from her first work. As such it is well-written and polished. More than that, it is crafted with a fiction-writer's sensibilities. There is foreshadowing. There is repeated imagery. There is structure holding it together. There is an arc. If someone had never written a book before then I would not recommend that they tried a memoir, but in the hands of someone who understands the craft it can be as readable as any work of fiction.

And it was readable. Some books are a chore to return to, but this was a joy, so I read it quickly whilst still savouring the obvious love of language in phrases like "my innocence still finding excuses to outshine my demons" and "I wore psychological earplugs like a nun wore her habit". I'm kicking myself for not marking a few that made me laugh, that were ripe for revisiting and rolling around in my mind. So if you like good writing, there's plenty to feast on here.

The best books are a journey (physical or mental); and there is development, often maturation, for the main character. I was wrong to be suspicious of a memoir, because both of those important elements drive and shape this narrative. I'll admit it. I was won over. I genuinely enjoyed this, and I think you might, too.

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Paper Celebrates An Author

From the Cambrian News, 2nd February 2017, page 8

I know, I know! I already talked about my appearance on the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot list here! But when I popped up in a newspaper as a result I couldn't resist sharing it above. (It was in their online version too).

[Note that I am not actually "shortlisted" - that's an error on the part of the newspaper. If anything, I am on the longlist. The shortlist of nominees is announced on 23rd February.]

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Friday, 10 February 2017

Reading Addicts - A New E-book Service


It's exciting to be in something from the start. Well, a new service has just been launched: Reading Addicts. Sign up and you'll get a weekly email listing e-books in various genres that are discounted or newly-released. You can unsubscribe at any time. Not only is the service itself free, but just by signing up you get your pick of some great great e-books - again, totally free. Give it a go!

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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Writing While Under The Influence, And Method Writing

Pirates do it better with grog - yes, that was me, in character for a game of Libertalia

The Effect Of Writing While Under The Influence

Some writers prefer to write while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as illustrated by this Guardian article "Why do writers drink?". Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, William Burroughs, Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald: they were all known to mix altered states of mind with creative work. Some of my writer friends have indulged in this way. Some of them still do. Some of them stopped, saying that as they got older it just made them tired - so now they only write under the influence of hot chocolate. Another told me she used to write while on speed: pages and pages of it. But it turned out to be drivel. One friend said he'd written his best ever short story while stoned - unfortunately he forgot to save it and it was lost forever. One common theme seems to be that it is a fine balance: too little or too much is disaster, but there's a cusp of creativity which works perfectly if you can attain it. Another common theme is that if you hand-write the draft, it may be unreadable the next day in the cold light of sobriety.

I prefer to write when I'm most alert, calm, and full of energy. That's usually in the morning, after my first cup of tea and a good night's sleep. I find it easier to arrange notes, consider plot points and beats, merge ideas into scenes, whilst sitting back and letting characters attain some independence. Writing for me is quite a cerebral act, juggling hundreds of ideas and phrases and trying to judge it so they land on the page in the most pleasing combinations.

Method Writing

The exception is if I'm trying to capture the experience I'm writing about. Some authors call this "method writing". So if I'm writing about someone getting gradually more tipsy while music is playing too loud then I might get tipsy while music plays too loud. Of course, you then need to edit-edit-edit the raw output to cut out the crap; embedded in the slush will be a few gems that enhance the finished scenes. They can be selected, extracted and polished when back in a normal frame of mind. Recording experiences is handy for getting a few key images or feelings that capture the experience in media res, and first-hand experience helps to avoid cliche. In 2000 Tunes one of the protagonists does a lot of drugs during a bad period in her life, so I could have a sub plot of her cleaning up her act. I'd had no experience with the drug in question, or with the sensations of snorting, so did experiments and recorded it all so I could use some of them as detail in the scenes. It's just another form of research. In that case research that made me sneeze a lot.

Option B: Partial Experiences

There are limits. You're after capturing the thoughts and sensations in order to escape from cliche and trite expectations, not replicating anything harmful to yourself or others. If you're writing about nearly drowning in an arctic sea you are not going to try it for real. But you might try climbing into an ice-cold bath for a partial experience of it. If you're writing about someone exhausted from a week of sleep deprivation and hunger you wouldn't replicate it exactly, but you might stay up for one night, or do a 24 hour fast to get an idea of what the character might go through. When I wrote Sinker (in They Move Below) I visited a loch at night so I could capture the sounds and smells and sights the main character experienced.

One of the problems with lazy writing (and something that leads me to get out my whip when I am working on a client's novel) is its habit of falling back on stock phrases and descriptions. They fail. They do not capture the essence of being in a situation. And when the showing fails, the writer has to fall back on too much telling, and we all know where that leads. Writing must be fresh. Otherwise what's the point? We've all eaten enough stale croissants for a lifetime, we don't need any more.

Option C: Speak To People

Finally: if you can't face even a hint of method writing then make use of interviews. Speak to people who know what it's like to get drunk on absinthe, or to work a twelve hour shift in a supermarket, or to run a dog boarding house, or to fall out of a tree. Their words will probably capture the essence of the experience better than falling back on what other writers have already said.

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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Denuvo And Dodgy DRM

 This was the start of my problems - Denuvo on a Steam game failing
to activate when I clicked "Play" for the first time

DRM And Denuvo


Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I like games and I'm not a fan of DRM in any form (I even think copyright is often too restrictive). I’ve had bad experiences with DRM in the past – from not being able to play games or watch a film, to having to send a projector back. Often DRM creates backdoors and insecurities in your system. You may not notice these. I also like to be able to back up my games in case the company goes bankrupt or disappears or just stops supporting the game. DRM such as Denuvo prevents games from being run on Linux. Finally, I turn off the router when we lock up at night. Sometimes I still play games or use my PC. Things which require periodic online connections then stop working. There are other reasons. It's why I go out of my way to support DRM-free games and their publishers (you should see my list of games on GOG!) while avoiding games with DRM. So adding DRM costs publishers sales, and costs them extra money in ongoing licences and support. It’s not automatically true that digital padlocks = more profit.

I thought I'd mention an experience I had recently with Denuvo DRM, since when I ran into problems I couldn't find useful help online. In fact, one source told me: "Sounds kinda fishy. More like malware on your system." So even the normal behaviour of Denuvo when it kicks in resembles malware to some users. That's rather telling. Yet it’s what happens if the game can’t connect to their servers when it wants to (something you have no control over). Because there was so little documentation of what happens I thought I'd write this. If you end up in the same position as me then this might at least explain what is going on.

My Experience With Denuvo In The Resident Evil 7 Demo


It began when I heard about a free Resident Evil 7 demo on Steam. I've always been a fan of Resident Evil games, so thought I would try the demo out and see what the new game was like. I've avoided ever buying a Denuvo game. I only bought Doom 4 recently because they've now stripped Denuvo out of it. But I saw this demo included Denuvo and thought "What the hell, it's free, how bad can it be?"

Getting to play it was a nightmare.

"What's this?" I wondered, as I followed the game's link

I managed to download the game, but when I first went to play it I was having Internet problems. So instead of running it popped up a box with hundreds of random characters in that I was supposed to paste into a "codefusion.technology" web page. Of course, I couldn't access that web page on my PC because my Internet connection was down. I could maybe use mobile Internet on my phone, but there was no way I could type in all those random characters and symbols, to get another page of hundreds of random characters I'd then have to type on my PC (presuming that would work). I used my phone to try and find out what this codefusion.technology thing is - nowhere does it mention DRM or Denuvo, it was later that I realised that's what it was, but they try and hide the fact from you. You can't even truncate the URL to get to a homepage - it gives no information at all.

The Denuvo codefusion pages if you don't let them
run scripts in your browser - not very helpful ...

Days later I got the router and Internet problems sorted. When I eventually got to the codefusion.technology web pages they were blank. Yet more hassles until I worked out that it was trying to run some scripts that were rightly blocked by my browser as security risks. I had to enable those. Then the button to get the code I needed didn't work due to Adobe flash errors, and requests to install new versions of that. Lots of time was wasted along the way. I eventually got it working. All that just to play a demo. Needless to say, the experience left me bitter, and it negatively affected my enjoyment of the demo.

It would not be easy to type all that in by hand.
Note that the button to copy the text didn't even work
without updating third party software

Never Again, Denuvo, Never Again


There is no way I'd ever pay for a game with Denuvo in. So much wasted time and hoops to jump through if you have this kind of problem.

Anyway, these are examples of the pages Denuvo sends you to: one, two, three, four. Beware the hassles of any URL which contains support.codefusion.technology.

I'm surprised gaming sites haven't written more about Denuvo and how it works, and what problems it can cause, since it seems to be used a lot more now. Maybe because it's one of those things where - if there are no problems - you don't notice it and assume it is fine. But as soon as you hit a snag (e.g. Internet access problem) it becomes a massive headache. My first experience of Denuvo will be the last.

Update: 30th January 2017
It turned out that Denuvo on the full Resident Evil 7 game was cracked in less than a week: so it made little difference to pirates, while putting off people who would otherwise have bought it (such as me). Read more here, here, and here.

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Saturday, 21 January 2017

2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot Announced


The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is the main organisation for authors writing in the horror and dark fiction genres. The HWA have run the hugely prestigious Bram Stoker Awards in various categories since 1987.

Yesterday the HWA announced the Preliminary Ballots for the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards. It's an exciting list. And ... one of my works, Harvest Festival, is included in the category of "Superior Achievement in Long Fiction"! THE Bram Stoker Awards! THE BRAM STOKER AWARDS!!!

(Long Fiction is works such as novellas - shorter than a novel, longer than a short story.)

Past winners of Bram Stoker Awards have included Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Harris, Richard Laymon, George A. Romero, and J. K. Rowling. Have a look and add items to your TBR lists!

Some past winners and nominees from my category specifically (Long Fiction): Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Peter Straub, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Bloch ...

It's the biggest thing to happen to me in my writing career.

I'll share the full 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot list below because I'm sure every entry on it will be a great read, and I intend to buy and read many of the books from it. It's a ready-made reading list from 2016 for fans of dark fiction. Please support the writing of all the authors who have been included in the preliminary ballot.

If you want to know what happens next: lots of voting in the HWA. Then on February 23rd they will announce the nominees. Please keep your fingers crossed for me, this would be huge! You can also play the start of my novella.

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

  • Anderson, Paul Michael – Bones Are Made to be Broken (Bones Are Made to be Broken) (Written Backwards)
  • Boden, John – Jedi Summer with the Magnetic Kid (Post Mortem Press)
  • Cushing, Aric – Vampire Boy (Grand & Archer)
  • Cushing, Nicole – The Sadist’s Bible (01Publishing)
  • Drinkwater, Karl – Harvest Festival (Organic Apocalypse)
  • Edelman, Scott – That Perilous Stuff (Chiral Mad 3) (Written Backwards)
  • LaValle, Victor – The Ballad of Black Tom (Tor.com)
  • Malerman, Josh – The Jupiter Drop (You, Human) (Written Backwards)
  • Matthews, Mark – All Smoke Rises: Milk-Blood Redux (Wicked Run Press)
  • Shane, Simmons – Raw (Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction) (Serpent & Dove Speculative Fiction)
  • Waggoner, Tim – The Winter Box (Darkfuse)

Superior Achievement in a Novel

  • Fenn, J. Lincoln – Dead Souls (Gallery Books)
  • Hand, Elizabeth – Hard Light: A Cass Neary Crime Novel (Minotaur Books)
  • Heuvelt, Thomas Olde – Hex (Tor Books)
  • Jones, Stephen Graham – Mongrels (William Morrow)
  • Langan, John – The Fisherman (Word Horde)
  • Lombardi, Nicola – The Tank (Dunwich Edizioni)
  • MacLeod, Bracken – Stranded: A Novel (Tor Books)
  • Murray, Lee – Into the Mist (Cohesion Press)
  • Prentiss, Norman– Odd Adventures with your Other Father (Kindle Press)
  • Snyman, Monique – Muti Nation (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • Tremblay, Paul – Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (William Morrow)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

  • Barnett, Barbara – The Apothecary’s Curse (Pyr Books)
  • Chapman, Greg – Hollow House (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • Deady, Tom – Haven (Cemetery Dance Publications)
  • Franks, Matthew – The Monster Underneath (Samhain Publishing, Ltd.)
  • Garza, Michelle and Lason, Melissa – Mayan Blue (Sinister Grin Press)
  • Gorman, William – Blackwater Val (Crystal Lake Publishing)
  • Kilgore, Kari – Until Death (Spiral Publishing)
  • Labat, L.M. – The Sanguinarian ID (Night to Dawn Magazine & Books LLC)
  • Lewis, Beth – The Wolf Road (Crown Publishing)
  • Murphy, Jason – The Black Goat Motorcycle Club (Sinister Grin Press)
  • Woodrow, Jonathan – Wasteland Gods (Horrific Tales Publishing)
  • Wytovich, Stephanie – The Eighth (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

  • Alexander, Maria – Snowed (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • Brozek, Jennifer – Last Days of Salton Academy (Ragnarok Publishing)
  • Cosimano, Elle – Holding Smoke (Hyperion-Disney)
  • Ford, Michael Thomas – Lily (Lethe Press)
  • Kelley, Michael Brent – Keep Away From Psycho Joe (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • Roberts, Jeyn – When They Fade (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Sirowy, Alexandra – The Telling (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Varley, Dax – Sinful: A Bleed Novel (Garden Gate Press)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

  • Bunn, Cullen – Blood Feud (Oni Press)
  • Chambers, James – Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe (Moonstone)
  • de Campi, Alex – No Mercy, Vol. 2 (Image Comics)
  • Miller, Mark Alan and Lansdale, Joe R. – The Steam Man (Dark Horse Books)
  • Moore, Alan – Providence, Act 1 (Avatar Press)
  • Quach, Ashley P – Weirdy (Sassquach Comics)
  • Kirkman, Robert – Outcast, Vol 3 This Little Light (Image Comics)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

  • Bailey, Michael – Time is a Face on the Water (Borderlands 6) (Borderlands Press)
  • Bodner, Hal – A Rift in Reflection (Chiral Mad 3) (Written Backwards)
  • Golden, Christopher – The Bad Hour (What the #@&% is That?) (Saga Press)
  • Hanson, Michael H. – Conqueror Worms (Dark Corners) (Iron Clad Press)
  • Hucklebridge, Dane – Ortolan (F(r)iction #5) (Tethered by Letters)
  • Kiste, Gwendolyn – Reasons I Hate My Big Sister (Nightscript Volume 2) (Chthonic Matter)
  • Mannetti, Lisa – Arbeit Macht Frei (Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories) (Crystal Lake Publishing)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro – Long Hair’s Inferno (The Monster, the Bad, and the Ugly) (Kipple Officina Libraria)
  • Oates, Joyce Carol – The Crawl Space (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Volume #2016/Issue#8) (Dell Magazines)
  • Smith, John Claude – The Wounded Table (The Wrath of Concrete and Steel) (Dunhams Manor Press)
  • Yap, Isabel – Only Unclench Your Hand (What the #@&% is That?) (Saga Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

  • Barron, Laird – Swift to Chase (JournalStone)
  • Braum, Daniel – The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales (Grey Matter Press)
  • Chizmar, Richard – A Long December (Subterranean Press)
  • Gavin, Richard – Sylvan Dread: Tales of Pastoral Darkness (Three Hands Press)
  • Oates, Joyce Carol – The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror (Mysterious Press)
  • O’Neill, Gene – Lethal Birds (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • Schaller, Eric – Meet Me in the Middle of the Air (Undertow Publications)
  • Schwaeble, Hank – American Nocturne (Cohesion Press)
  • Sutton, Pete – A Tiding of Magpies (Kensington Gore Publishing)
  • Wehunt, Michael – Greener Pastures (Shock Totem Publications)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

  • Alvarez, Fede and Sayagues, Rodo – DON’T BREATHE (Ghost House Pictures, Good Universe)
  • Campbell, Josh, Chazelle, Damien, and Stuecken, Matthew – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (Paramount Pictures)
  • Catlin, Sam, Rogen, Seth, and Goldberg, Evan – PREACHER: PILOT (Episode1:0) (AMC)
  • Duffer, Matt and Duffer, Ross – STRANGER THINGS: THE VANISHING OF WILL BYERS (Episode 01: Chapter One) (21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre)
  • Duffer, Matt and Duffer, Ross – STRANGER THINGS: THE UPSIDE DOWN (Episode 01: Chapter Eight) (21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre)
  • Eggers, Robert – THE VVITCH (Parts and Labor, RT Features, Rooks Nest Entertainment, Code Red Productions, Scythia Films, Maiden Voyage Pictures, Mott Street Pictures, Pulse Films, and Very Special Projects)
  • Gimple, Scott M. – THE WALKING DEAD: THE DAY WILL COME WHEN YOU WON’T BE (Episode 07:01) (AMC)
  • Hayes, Carey, Hayes, Chad, Wan, James and Johnson, David – THE CONJURING 2 (New Line Cinema)
  • Logan, John – PENNY DREADFUL: A BLADE OF GRASS (Episode 03:04) Showtime Presents in association with SKY, Desert Wolf Productions, Neal Street Productions)
  • Nichols, Jeff – MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Warner Bros.)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

  • Bailey, Michael – Chiral Mad 3 (Written Backwards)
  • Bennett, T.C. and Carbone, Tracy L. – Cemetery Riots (Awol From Elysium Press)
  • Dabrowski, Lisa – Horror from the Inside Out (Whorror House)
  • Johnson, Eugene and Day, Charles – Drive-In Creature Feature (Evil Jester Press)
  • Kahle, Pete – Not Your Average Monster, Vol. 2: A Menagerie of Vile Beasts (Bloodshot Books)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro – The Beauty of Death (Independent Legions Publishing)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro and di Orazio, Paolo – The Monster, the Bad and the Ugly (Kipple Officina Libraria)
  • Monteleone, Thomas F. and Monteleone, Oliva F. – Borderlands 6 (Samhain Publishing, Ltd.)
  • Mosiman, Billie Sue – Fright Mare-Women Write Horror (DM Publishing)
  • Murano, Doug and Ward, D. Alexander – Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories (Crystal Lake Publishing)
  • Rivera, Anthony and Lawson, Sharon – Peel Back the Skin (Grey Matter Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

  • Braudy, Leo. Haunted: On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies and Other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural (Yale University Press)
  • Franklin, Ruth – Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright Publishing Corporation)
  • Ocker, J.W. A Season with the Witch (Countryman Press)
  • Olson, Danel P. – Guillermo del Toro’s “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”: Studies in the Horror Film (Centipede Press)
  • Poole, W. Scott. In the Mountains of Madness: The Life, Death and Extraordinary Afterlife of H. P. Lovecraft (Soft Skull Press)
  • Skal, David J. – Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote
  • Dracula (Liveright Publishing Corporation)
  • Tibbetts, John. The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub (McFarland)
  • Towlson, Jon. The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films, 1931-1936 (McFarland)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

  • Betts, Matt – Underwater Fistfight (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • Boston, Bruce and Manzetti, Alessandro – Sacrificial Nights (Kipple Officina Libraria)
  • Collings, Michael R. – Corona Obscura: Poems Dark and Elemental (self-published)
  • Cowen, David E. – The Seven Yards of Sorrow (Weasel Press)
  • DiLouie, Craig and Moon, Jonathan – Children of God: Poems, Dreams, and Nightmares from the Family of God Cult (ZING Communications, Inc., Jonathan Moon.)
  • Gailey, Jeannine Hall – Field Guide to the End of the World: Poems (Moon City Press)
  • Lepovetsky, Lisa – Voices from Empty Rooms (Alban Lake)
  • Lopez III, Aurelio Rico – Two Drinks Away from Chaos (Azoth Khem Publishing)
  • Simon, Marge. – Small Spirits (Midnight Town Media)
  • Wytovich, Stephanie M. – Brothel (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Some great stuff there!

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Thursday, 19 January 2017

Who Determines What A Word Means?


The image is my response to reading about another politician who wants to use the law to change how people use words. Their underlying reasons are to benefit one industry over another, usually the industry that they feel will provide the most votes or donations.

Poor old soya milk (as the world refers to it, regardless of what politicians dictate).

For anyone using text reader software, here's the text from the image:

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Words, eh? Politicians with vested interests say the word "milk" should only apply to dairy milk.

The OED's definition 2 of milk as plant-based is over 600 years old. That's authority.

Dairy milk is one type of milk; plant milk another. Simple. Let's just always add a prefix to "milk" to clarify it.
Dairy milk. Oat milk. Coconut milk. Soya milk. Almond milk.
All clear then. Everyone is happy.

Unfortunately we already had a similar persecution in Europe, where they banned calling it soya milk (Council Regulation 1234/2007), which is why it is now labelled "soya drink" on the carton, even though everyone calls it soya milk.
---KD


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