My beautiful, intelligent, and talented wife, Ally Bishop, bought this photograph for me after her annual Christmas trip to New York City. When she gave it to me, she cried. She knew that I had one hell of a creatively busy 2014 with far too many demanding projects: two short films (TIGERS IN THE SOUP and CASE #5930), a presentation on horror for the MAPACA Fall Conference, a couple of short stories and screenplays, a weekly podcast, blogposts, and much more, among teaching fulltime at Kutztown University. But the biggest project of all was my novel, “Bloodletting.” It wasn’t so much that I’d worked on my hard-boiled crime thriller for a couple of years to make it as perfect as possible, or that the idea had been stuck in my head since my early twenties. But I’d finally achieved that dream I had at age sixteen to publish a novel.
When she originally handed me the photo, I imagined myself in my own Chuck Ts looking down at the sidewalk, seeing the words, and conjuring a wry smile in triumph. However, I was never really a fan of dreams. After all, dreams are just that: something in the psyche to keep us alive and hopeful, though the probability of them coming to fruition is slim to none. For instance, I dreamed of walking with dinosaurs once, and unless they’re part of an advanced alien species ready to visit Earth, that dream probably won’t come true. Instead, I set goals for myself: something viable and tangible I could achieve.
But publishing a novel had always been a dream of mine in lieu of a goal. It was something I wanted to do because I loved to write and hoped to entertain others with my stories. But becoming a “wordsmith” took time. I listened to my teachers from kindergarten to graduate school. I read works on craft, joined writing groups, took part in workshops, and submitted stories for publication – usually to have them rejected. However, I improved my skills and moved forward, and ultimately listened to my editor, the great Gerald Baude, to bring “Bloodletting” to life in grand fashion. Yet, I once read about an author who won and award, and when she asked if there was anyone she wanted to thank, she yelled, “Me!” in all her narcissistic and narrow-minded fashion. Yes, she went on to explain how the book was her idea and how she put the work in, and blah, blah, blah.
Sure, that author’s correct. When a writer creates, we only have our minds to fall back on, and we must produce the work ourselves. But if it isn’t for those who support us, professional or otherwise, from the authors who came before us or the books on craft that guided us, we most likely wouldn’t get that far. As a young man watching the Indianapolis 500 on television, I remember hearing a winning driver talk like a king: “we” did this, and “we” accomplished that. Sure, he drove the car, but without sponsors, he wouldn’t have a ride – and if it weren’t for his pit crew, hell, the car wouldn’t move at all. Maybe this is why I take the time to read the acknowledgements section to every book I read.
“Bloodletting” came about because of all the experts I consulted about police procedure and morgues, to reservoir water and private investigations. My one colleague at Kutztown said I did more research for my novel than she had for her dissertation. I doubt that – but I did take my novel just as seriously as any research project.
It may be a long time since I was sixteen, but “Bloodletting” has finally allowed me to deliver on that dream I had as a sixteen year old – to make it a goal and make it real. The book is out thanks to Booktrope, who even created their new “Edge” imprint to accommodate the content, and people can buy it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble as an ebook or paperback, if they wish.
I’m not sure what 2015 will bring for me, but I know other creative filmmakers and authors who have dreams and goals they want to achieve – and who have supported me in my Crash Palace venture, as well as my THE LAST KNOCK horror podcast. So here’s to some of the people you need to watch for in the coming year, because their support has been amazing, and they will all do great things:
Ally Bishop will have two, if not three, erotic novels on the way, starting with “Inside the Lines” from Barkless Dog Press. (Twitter: @upgradestory – http://www.upgradeyourstory.com/)
Jonny Numb will co-host THE LAST KNOCK and write movie reviews, but a few of his short stories are on the way. (Twitter: @JonnyNumb – http://numbviews.livejournal.com/)
Emilie Flory searches for a distributor and a producer to bring her enticing horror film TRAUMA DOLLS to life. (Twitter: @EmilieFlory – http://www.iconelabelpictures.com/)
David Paul Baker will unleash his long awaited crime series “Crime Lord” to the world. (Twitter: @davidpbaker – http://www.crimelordseries.com/)
Oklahoma Ward and Nikki Alonso are working on the sequel to their successful horror/sci-fi film CRAWL OR DIE. (Twitter: @OklahomaWard @nicolemalonso – http://www.crawlordietrilogy.com/)
Latashia Figueroa’s penning a new novel to complement her “This Way Darkness” collection of three short horrors. (Twitter: @LatashFigueroa – http://latashiafigueroa-author.com/)
SG Lee’s “Journal of the Undead: Littleville Uprising” will lead to more horror novels and stories with great cliffhangers. (Twitter: sg_lee_horror – http://sgleehorror.blogspot.com/)
Owen McCuen will easily secure more acting and voiceover work due to his tremendous talent. (Twitter: @OwenMcCuenQuest – http://www.owenmccuen.com/)
Time to Back Out Productions, who made LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW and the feature DESOLATION, will work on their new film LOOK. (Twitter @TTBOProductions – http://www.ttbop.com/)
Fay Simon’s novels, “Shadow Bender” and “Behind the Mirror”, are on their way to becoming screenplays. (Twitter: @theladyphantom – http://novelsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html)
Bleeding Critic’s intimate stories will continue to terrify and disturb. (Twitter: @BleedingFilms – https://www.youtube.com/user/bleedingcritic)
Ron Shaw’s “The Ron Shaw Show” will entertain listeners as his novels will delight readers. (Twitter: @RonGizmo – http://artistfirst.com/ronshaw.htm)
Jason Edward Davis will unleash more of his excellent modern impressionist art on the masses. (Twitter: @loveandmonsters – http://jasonedwarddavis.com/)
Promote Horror will promote horror writers and independent filmmakers like no one else. (Twitter: @promotehorror – http://www.promotehorror.com/)
SV Bell’s comics, metal art, and BlackFlag TV will rock the world from the printed page to Roku. (Twitter: @svbell – http://www.blackflag.tv/index.php)
The Keeper will not only bring us horror stories and screenplays, but introspective pieces as well. (Twitter: @RiversofGrue – http://riversofgrue.com/)
Vic from Vic’s Movie Den will bring us more insightful movie reviews thanks to his writing prowess. (Twitter: @VicsMovieDen – http://vicsmovieden.com/)
Dave Koenig’s awesome art and graphics work will continue to attract fans. (Twitter: @AFiendOnFilm – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUxZz6r6H0YpQJAFdDQn1lw?feature=mhee)
Carlette Norwood’s podcast “Lette’s Chat” will knock us out as it always does. (Twitter: @LettesChat – https://www.facebook.com/carlettenchat)
Jill Gibson will continue to write wonderful poems and powerful short stories. (Twitter: @RealJillyG – http://crimsonquintessence.com/)
Charles Chessler’s photographs will continue to inspire, just like his “Become the Dream” image has done for me. (Twitter: @cchesslerphoto – http://www.charleschesslerphotography.com/)
And on, and on…
Maybe none of us know what drives us or what the end goal is, but there’s no doubt the passion’s there, and it burns bright.
Publishing a novel had been my life’s goal. Although I have more ideas and more creative projects from screenplays to movies – and even more books – it’s a joy, if not a relief, to know I finally honored that dream.
I hope you honor yours.
Note: Kind souls have requested the link to Bloodletting, which is now available at low prices in paperback or all ebook platforms from Barnes & Noble, and Amazon:
(Photo from Charles Chessler Photography as shot in my homestead.)