Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning

Neil’s latest collection of short stories comes with a warning, a trigger warning. Fascinated with society’s recent trend to warn readers of content, he took it upon himself to title this amazing book for us before anyone else could. There are things inside, stories and ideas, which might upset a reader, even change how they view the world. There are also sweeping plot arcs and whimsical characters that might trigger fellow authors to envy Neil’s artistry.

He warned us.

“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain…” was my favorite story. Runner-ups were Click-Clack the Rattlebag, Black Dog, and Nothing O’clock. These were juicy slices of fantastical worlds that burst open in the reader’s mind and gushed into our subconscious where it will no doubt leave an indelible stain.

The black mountain story blended classic fable authenticity with a dash of Grimm’s comeuppance. Click-Clack is a spooky ghost story, and Black Dog was a wonderful return to the broken half-god we rooted for in American Gods.

Trigger Warnings seamlessly weaves a variety of genres together into a verbal tapestry that delights the imagination, and I once again tip my fedora to one of our century’s great writers.

D.C. Lozar

Your Magic Mask

senior bald man in yellow shirt shows disturbance

Your Magic Mask

by D.C. Lozar

I’ve had it rough; I’ve had enough.

Give it to me straight, Doc; I’ll be tough.

Listen close, I said please.

Don’t say no, I’ve paid my fees.

It’s true I smoked and drank.

But I also put money in the bank.

So what about that magic pill?

I’ve got a place for you in my will.

My friend Johnny said you’re the best,

not at all like all the rest.

Old Man Death came knocking at my door.

But, I told him I was seeing you at four.

I saw it on the news the other day.

It’s the cure, but the HMOs won’t pay.

They said go see your doctor and ask.

Said to lift up your magic mask.

Deaf, dumb, and blind: Who me?

I’m not guilty of any responsibility.

There’s no cause and effect.

My health is due to your neglect.

I was young. I know better now.

Was that a furrow in your brow?

It’s true, I won’t change my ways.

But, I haven’t used up all my hospital days.

Did you hear what I just said?

It’ll be your fault if I end up dead.

Don’t give up on me, Doc. Don’t lose hope.

Just think about it while I grab a smoke.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman – American Gods

This was a wonderfully crafted tale that engrossed and entertained me.

In creating a world in which gods are flesh and blood, Neil taps into the American psyche: We are each the undiscovered heroes of the next blockbuster movie.

Although Shadow, the antagonist, feels two-dimensional at times, I believe this is intentional and refreshing. None of us are perky all the time. A slouching hulk of a man, rocked by the infidelity and death of his wife, Shadow endears himself to us by not over-reacting to events that would make most characters question their sanity. Because he is painted as half-dead inside, the reader believes his account of having a zombie-wife, god-friends, and having died and returned.

A masterful piece of fiction with beautiful snippets of stories such as the fiddler’s ruse worked in for good measure. The twist at the end clinched the story and earned Neil Gaiman my deepest respect. Thank you for a wonderful tale.

The Writer’s Coffeehouse – SoCal

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San Diego’s Newest Writer’s Resource.

I recently had the pleasure to attend a gathering of up-and-coming writers and artists organized by Jonathan Maberry. Dubbed the Writer’s Coffeehouse, this group of dedicated storytellers came together to talk candidly about the joys and frustrations of the craft.

As I was not initially planning on writing a summary, I apologize if some of the topics covered at the meeting are missing from the following description.

After initial introductions and establishing that the coffeehouse meetings will occur on the first Sunday of every month (with the exception of next month due to Easter), Jonathan mediated the group.

Topics Covered.

  • Know your audience:
    • Middle grade (8-12 years old) are broken into the younger crowd (Goosebumps at 8-10) and the 10-12 set.
    • Young Adult (12-17 years old) again broken up into (12-15) adventure and first romance, and the (15-17) romance, real world issues, and risk-taking.
    • New Adult (17 and beyond) Sex, drug use, and more mature real world issues.
  • Big advances can hurt first-time authors because they may not sell enough books to earn out the advance. A smaller advance will make the novel look successful to the bean counters and may make a second book deal more likely.
  • There is something called a stepped advance where an author’s advance is staggered based on the number of copies sold – something to consider when negotiating a contract.
  • Social Media, love it or hate it, is unavoidable. Reddit, Google hangouts, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  It’s a necessity in the publishing recipe.
  • Publisher Marketplace is an essential tool for researching agents and their recent deals.
  • Publishing is a business. A good business partnership is built on mutual respect and trust. Work on developing a relationship with people from the writing community and with agents/editors.
  • Try to build up fellow artists. Give positive feedback and constructive advice. There is more than enough room at the top for everyone. Writers should help fellow writers.
  • Cover quotes are great ways to relate to potential readers who may need to have your work vetted by an author they know and like.
  • Send out X-Mas cards: Understand and respect all the people who make a published story happen. Remember who they are and how important they are in making your story a success.
  • Comic books are another format, and audience, that boost your platform, but the dynamics of publishing are different.
  • Pen names – There was a variety of opinions, but the consensus was it is hard enough to get your message out there. Don’t make it harder on yourself. Use your real name. You’re creating a brand with your name: stand behind it.
  • When you do send your work out, it should be in Word format.
  • Jonathan’s technique for short stories is to write the ending first and work backward.
  • Interview, blog, and promote other writers.
  • Writer’s block is a fallacy.
    • It can mean you’ve taken the wrong path with a story. Back up and start down a different path.
    • Try a different angle or perspective/point of view.
    • Write a more interesting part of the story and then come back to the place you got bogged down.
    • Don’t obsess about writing it well the first time – just write it. Real writing occurs with the edits and revisions.

I’m sure I missed a number of key points, but I was honestly engrossed in the discussion and the pure energy of the meeting and forgot to take detailed notes. Everyone had suggestions, advice, and personal stories to share. I had a wonderful time and hope to attend many more sessions.

Thank you, Jonathan Maberry, Keith Strunk, The Mysterious Galaxy Book Store, and all of you who contributed to this dynamic event. Bravo!

D.C. Lozar

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