Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill (a book review!)

My first hardcover edition of Full Throttle, signed by Joe Hill, is among the treasures of my personal library.

I utterly adore Joe’s writing and have yet to come away disappointed. Full Throttle is no exception. I enjoyed every tale in this collection, but especially fell in love with By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain. It is a take on Bradbury’s The Foghorn. It may arguably stand the test of time on its own literary merits, much like its predecessor.

Dark Carnival is also excellent, as is Faun, a Hemingway-esque safari tale which turns into an otherworldly fantasy, a la C.S. Lewis. In the Tall Grass, co-written with Stephen King, perfectly blends Joe and Stephen’s writing styles, producing one effectively creepy hybrid.

Out of everything in this fine collection, what sticks with me (though not quite as much as “Lake Champlain”) is a tale called Late Returns. I identified completely with the narrator’s voice, finding his encounters with ghostly book readers to be thrilling, intriguing, and more than a touch creepy.

In summary, all I want to say is — Great work, Mr. Hill. I can’t wait to read the next!

Thanks for reading.

Your friend and fellow book-dragon,

Tylor James.

 

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Badly Written Stories Are Your Friend & More —- The Writing Life!

Greetings, and welcome to The Writing Life! In this week’s article, we’ll be discussing the importance of believing in one’s self, the latest updates in my personal rejections & submissions, as well as finding value in badly written stories . . .

THE WRITING LIFE (issue #3)

It has been said that if you want to make it in the arts, you have to be mad. Whether you want to be a writer, a painter, a musician, a cartoonist, or whatever, you have to be mad.

And being mad means this: you have full confidence in your talent and abilities as a creative person and, above all else, you will turn it into a career. There isn’t any doubt in your heart that it will happen. You have complete faith in yourself and the understanding that through extreme devotion to your craft and plenty of endurance, it will only be a matter of time before the world recognizes and values your good work.

That’s what being mad means in the arts. It also means throwing aside pragmatism, throwing aside the dire warnings from family and friends about the economic fallibility of living off one’s creations, AND, ultimately, it means not listening to anybody but your own true self.

Think of the arrogance of such an attitude!

It is, nonetheless, the attitude one must cultive if one desires to make it in the arts. This is not just my opinion. It’s also the opinion of such legendary artists as Ray Bradbury and Gayon Wilson. Both men have spoken eloquently about the necessity of this outlook in lectures and interviews.

In addition to fostering one’s skills and abilities and believing in one’s self, a good bit of leg work in the way of making a career out of art is often done by sheer luck.

So, dear friends, fellow writers and artists, may you be good to the muse (that means show up and do the work, every day, relentlessly) and may the muse be good to you (that means may you get damn lucky and everything works out).

There’s plenty of room in this world for artists of all kinds and stripes, in my opinion. It isn’t a competition, or a battle for first place. There’s no need to fight over who’s the best writer or painter or dancer or singer. There’s room for all of us.

The muse is wonderously vast.

***

I GOT THEM REJECTION BLUES (My favorite segment of The Writing Life!)

It’s time for me to share the latest rejections of my stories. Every once in a great while, they can get me down, but most of the time, they make me smile. Whenever I read a rejection slip, I just say ‘Ok!’ And send out another submission straight away.

In the hope of inspiring fellow writers with the notion that rejections CAN be fun, here’s the latest:

Cast of Wonders rejects my story, Love From Another Place, a supernatural tale of love and loss. This tale is almost ashamedly adolescent in nature, BUT, hey, some people dig that. Teenage girls, for one.

87 Bedford rejects Love From Another Place as well (double your money!).

The Forge Literary Magazine rejects The Hating Game, a flash-fiction piece commenting on such contemporary topics “online trolling” and “cyber-bullying”.

The Future Fire rejects ‘Til Death Do Us Never Part, a story about a bickering married couple whose problems follow them even when they’re both six feet under! This is a comedic, philosophical horror tale, which I’ve recently adapted for the stage. There’s a good chance it may be performed live before an audience in 2020, along with two other strange tales of mine.

SUBMISSION NEWS

On the other hand, I’ve sent out:

Fish Out of Water, a strange fiction tale which merges pulp-style writing with Kafkaeque horror, to Automata Review.

I’m really proud of this tale, and I hope someone picks it up.

The Hating Game to After Dinner Conversation and Confingo Magazine.

Blue Christmas, the shortest story I’ve ever written, to 50-Word Stories! Read this one if you want to cry on Christmas.

Crash Landing, a lost-genre science-fiction story, to Planet Scumm.

LOVE the name of that last one, don’t you?

***

IN OTHER NEWS/WRITING ADVICE

I’ve had a great time tonight writing a zombie tale entitled, No Way Out. It’s got a hell of a lot of descriptive, gory passages and, what I hope are, some sympathetic characters.

First draft adds up to a little over 6,000 words. Tomorrow night I’ll be editing, re-writing and generally making it look like I knew what the hell I was doing the first time around.

NOW, time for this week’s edition of UNSOLICITED WRITING ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS— advice you never asked for, and which may or may not damage your writing career.

Today’s advice is more to do with one’s attitude than it does with the craft of writing, although it is nonetheless vital:

One ought to greatly value every lousy, bad, terrible story they’ve ever written. You know you’ve done it. Admit it! You’ve written a lousy tale or two; a story that might have germinated from a good idea, but couldn’t quite stand on its own? Even the best writers in the business have done it.

It’s not a bad thing, and here’s why: By completing a lousy, no-good story, you learn things. What you learn, especially, is what not to do the next time around. So for every lousy story you write, you are paving the way for all the good ones. You are gaining experience, and likewise, knowledge about your craft.

And that’s where I leave you: pestered and possessed by the muse. Until next time,

Your constant writer,

Tylor James.

 

 

The Life of a Writer — Dec. 1st (STANGE FISH, LOWSY LUDDITES, & ENDURANCE)

Greetings, friends. It’s just another day in . . . The Life of a Writer. 

Lots of good stories underway, let me tell you.

STORY NEWS

I’ve got a science-fiction story, Crash Landing, about a man who crash lands on an unknown alien planet. It’s your typical “lost world” genre story — except this particular yarn explores the absurdity of being a total luddite in a technological world.

Note: I was not aware of the word “luddite” until earlier this year. I came across it in a Kurt Vonnegut story. For those readers whom might not know, it means: a person opposed to new technology or ways of working. 

Imagine being a luddite AND a member of a planetary exploration crew AND your space ship crashes AND you have no understanding or meaningful relation to the technology that could potentially save your life — should you know how to use it.

Crash Landing is in its second draft stage at the moment, but will be a third and final draft next week and ready for submission to the magazines.

Then there’s Fish Out of Water, even better! It’s about a gang member who gets dropped in the lake wearing cement shoes because he’s killed somebody he shouldn’t have and pissed off a lot of dangerous people. He drowns, then awakens at the bottom of the lake with slimy gills on either sides of his neck. He’s grown webbing between his fingers. He’s got scales growing on his body. And he’s hatching a plan for revenge.

Fish Out of Water is a cross-genre piece, mixing hard-boiled pulp style prose with Kafkaesque twists of fate and, oddly enough, some mysterious Christian imagery having to do with the ressurrection of Christ.

Strange fiction? You bet.

I also got a poem out last night (Ode to Caffeine), a love song written for piano (dedicated to my fiance, Tessandra), plus some blog stuff.

As for today? I’ll be focusing on some editing and re-writing. And after that, if I feel up to it, writing some new stuff.

***

REJECTED!

DOWN-TURNED STORY NEWS (oh, boy, oh, boy, my favorite segment of The Writing Life!)

Silver Pen rejects my story, “Love From Another Place”, a ghost tale of love and loss. The editor, however, was so very kind in her rejection. I always appreciate when I am not handed the standard rejection form.

Crone Girls Press rejects my story, “The Voice”, about a man who commits hit-and-run on a trick-or-treater on Halloween night. The story was intended for an upcoming horror anthology. This is my second story I’ve submitted for this anthology, and so far no luck. Perhaps you, dear reader, if you dabble in dark fiction, will give them a try and have better luck.

STAY TUNED for future rejections. They are always upcoming.

***

ACCEPTED

My first professional publication is my story, The Typewriter. It was accepted by Jolly Horror Press two months ago and will be released in a marvelous book entitled, ACCURSED: A Horror Anthology, to be released this December 10th! JHP editor Jonathan Lambert is a wonderful guy to work with, and I highly recommend fellow writers to consider submitting to JHP for future anthologies.

***

In Other News

I work in a haunted factory these days. It’s an abandoned facility located in a snowy mid-west town where the people are cracked with an abundance of alcohol, opioids, and social gaucherie. But the facility (formerly a cheese factory) is relatively quiet, except for the clanging of the overhead pipes, the pterodactyl-whine of the boiler and the rattle of the radiator.

I sit in a break room with two security monitors. I glance at them from time to time, but mostly I write. And read. And look at what deranged things my fellow bloggers are up to.

This concludes today’s edition of The Writing Life. Questions? Comments? Hurled prejoratives? Please post them in the comments section below.

Lastly, a bit of advice for fellow writers seeking to master their craft:

The key to your success as a writer is endurance. And practice, of course.

The amount of effort you put in, and how long you can keep it up. These simple things largely determine what sort of writer you will become. To keep on top of practice, some folks aim to hit a particular word count every day, or every week.

As for me? I subscribe to the Ray Bradbury Regimen. That means, simply, focus on writing ONE short story a week. After fifty two weeks, you’ll have fifty-two stories, and hell, they can’t all be bad, can they?

As the colloquial saying goes, “Hold my beer . . .”

 

Until next time,

Your constant writer,

Tylor James.