My photo
(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, Roberta Marilyn (Gunn) Keohane

Special Happy Birthday today to the Mom of the Century (OK, well, I should phrase that as the Mom of Two Centuries - no, no, she's not that old, promise <g>).

We should go through life, doing the proverbial counting of blessings, and my mother is up there at the very top. It's funny, I've got so many memories of things we did together growing up, and many times it had something to do with science fiction or horror movies. Janet always rolls her eyes the way I relate so many things in life to movies, or know so many minute details about the entertainment industry in general but still don't notice the empty cup needing rinsing on the counter. I suppose, that a lot has to do with my angst-ridden memories of my teenage years, which are always superimposed, like a healing salve, by memories of watching Star Wars for the first time with this woman, or Rocky. I especially hold close to my heart - for what reason I'm not sure, just that it was such a cool movie I guess - sitting with Mom in the theatre as the mother ship in Close Encounters drifts away into the night sky and the credits start rolling.

I know, take a white picket fence storybook and memories are stirring brownie mix or soup over a stove with aproned Mother giving direction, and I suppose our kids will have these moments tucked fondly into their heads. Me, sitting in a theatre, eyes watering (because I invariably stop blinking during the movie), escaping with Mom to these brightly colored celluloid worlds, escaping the real one for a time, and of course eating popcorn and Twizzlers, even the small speck of a memory of Mom mentioning a show coming on tv (it was a rerun on Channel 56, I'm not THAT old...) call Star Trek I might like. She later regretted it, because all she could hear after that was the constant screams of pain from whichever red shirt was being killed that day. We inherit different things from our parents, and most of it good. Some is deliberate on their part, but most is gotten when they act most like themselves around us. Be yourself around your children (unless you're evil, then you're allowed to pretend), you'd be surprised how effective it can be, ad how many good memories they'll have when they get older.

Anyway, again, Happy Birthday, Mom, and many, many more.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pieces of Plague Scattered Like Seeds

Well, I have a MySpace page now. Not exactly what to do with it, but I guess the first thing I need to do is invite some friends... not sure how to do that, either. lol. Anyway, it's www.myspace.com/dankeohane - so, a good way I think to determine how many people actually read this blog, who have myspace, is to post this and ask - hey, if you're a myspace junkie, as me to let you in, I'll hold the door open...

Also, if you don't have a MySpace but you read this blog with any sense of regularity, let me know (mailto:dankeohane-reg@verizon.net). I'm curious if it's only me and Michelle out here in the cold, cruel bloggy world. :-)

Well, I did it. Both my Italian agent and Fran (the only ones who read the rewrite) both thought the second half of Plague of Darkness just dragged with too much talky-talky. So, last week I jumped in and viciously slashed 7500 words from the book, all stuff that – as I cut – I realized should never have been in there. Sometimes we have one or two sentences in a big scene that we want to keep, and because of these small bits of required information we keep the rest of the dreck – like the chocolate cookie part of an Oreo. No one really wants the cookie part. Get to the creamy filling and move on to the next! Anyway, it's back to my agent to see what she thinks. On a special note, any prayers offered to said agent Cristina Ranghetti's husband, who is recovering from a stroke at too young an age, would be greatly appreciated. He's home, but it'll be a struggle for a while as you can imagine.

Back to Plague for a second more, I'm not going to pass this one on to a US co-agent just yet, since she has two others to keep herself busy for now. I might consider marketing here in the states myself, but we'll see. Might wait a bit and see if anything happens with Margaret's Ark. Speaking of which, Ark is finally getting into circulation in the US markets now. I thought it already had been but I guess not. I hope it's true this time, the book's too damned good in my opinion to let it stagnate. Of course, I'm a bit biased so don't listen to me.

What else? Ah. Word of advice for any budding editors out there - if you invite an author to write a story for your antho, you're not obligated to buy it, naturally, but you are honor bound to read it and, whatever you decide, at least let the author know what your decision is before he sees the table of contents published on your company's website six months later. Oh, and when author emails you to very politely mention this and even wishes you good luck with the anthology, it might be nice to perhaps reply.... you think? Something? As it is, a week later... nothing. Harrumph. :-(

Plague of Locusts is 3200 words and a couple of short chapters in, with some neat ideas on how to cover the 163 years between today and the book's timeline, but I spent the latter part of last week chopping Darkness into little bits, and did some more work on "The Bridge". Hopefully I can hop back in.

I need something to happen, soon. Getting antsy.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Stepping Onto The Road Less Traveled

I skipped a week, since there was nothing major to report on the writing front last week, though progress was made. New developments this week, which is always good.

Ray Guns and Patterns and Bridges and Monkeys

Sent "Ray Gun" out to the world, we'll see how it fares. Should do well. It's a fun story. I also revised and fine-tuned a flash fiction piece I'd been toying with and sent that one out. FYI, Flash Fiction is the term used for a really, really short piece. For example, "Ray Gun" is a regular ol' short story, clocking in at 4800 words. "Patterns," however, is only 548 words. Big difference. There's a pretty good market for these buggers lately, so we'll see how it does. So at this point now I have 7 short stories in circulation, with "The Bridge" making 8 once it's done. Not bad. I think I've gotten my short story urge relieved for now. Unless I get invited to write something - that would be nice. I write some of my best stuff when invited to: 'The Doll Wagon," "Selection" and more recently, "Seeing Monkeys" which I have yet to hear back about, hint hint...

Speaking of "The Bridge," finished up the 4th draft on Tuesday at lunch, coming along nicely and hopefully it'll be done soon. It felt like it needed one scene added, which I'm working on now, but aside from that, really just needs editing and refining.

The Fork In the Road

I've been kind of wallowing in a bit of an emotional quagmire recently, trying to get my bearings and finding myself at a number of crossroads, intersections we all face now and then. Writing-wise – since this is a writing blog, though other stuff sneaks in – was what to begin working on next, novel-wise. Again, the old concern - which road to take. Take the wrong one and... doesn't matter. You can't worry about that, then you stop moving. Have to keep writing, even if it feels sometimes you're on the road alone or what you're doing is pointless. Like my friend Fran said to me the other day, you write what you're excited about, what feels right for you. If not, then it's work. If you're excited about it, it's a passion.

I touched on this before - my short stories are straight horror, of various types depending on my mood, and I really love to write them, edit them, send them out, hopefully creeping out the people who read them. My novels, though, have ended up as genre cross-breeds - part horror, part suspense, part human drama, part spiritual, what have you. They're original, if nothing else, and they feel BIG, even if at the moment they seem to be stagnating, at least in the US market. Haven't heard much from the home front lately, such that I sometimes feel like that actor guy from the TV show Taxi always waiting for the call. Maybe what I need to do put some of the marketing back into my own hands, at least in this country. But I must be patient. For a while longer. Of course, for a writer, the only thing you can do is to keep waiting, and writing. Writing's the only therapy available sometimes. But you should write what you feel driven to write, and maybe I'm destined to write books like Solomon's Grave, Margaret's Ark, Plague of Darkness and now...

I had a couple of choices - continue tinkering with the novel version of Storm of Generations - though unique and will be a cool story, it's definitely a fringe book (more even than the above titles) which would be even harder to sell until I have an audience. I'm still jotting notes for Wails & Gnashing all the time, and laughing when I do. This one will be great fun, but a) I've got to be in a consistently great mood to write this one straight through, and a consistently great mood has been an elusive thing for me lately, and b) again this one will be a tough sell before I establish an audience first. At least, it feels that way. We'll see. As I might have mentioned before, there is one story that's been plaguing me to write it, pun intended.

The Road Less Traveled

On Wednesday at lunch, I began jotting down initial notes, character sketches and world-building for the next book: Plague of Locusts. This is a tentative title, mind you. The plot is light years (literally) from Plague of Darkness except for the title - I'd considered doing a series of unrelated books after Darkness was done loosely based on the plagues of Egypt, and I was already toying with the idea for Locust when the title hit me. The title also fits quite well with the storyline. In one lunch I wrote 2300 words of notes and thoughts, free writing ideas and slowly building a history and characters (the story takes place in the year 2163, so had to figure out how the world progressed from today to then, both physically, militarily, politically and religiously... ok, that's not the right word, but I can't spell "theologically"). Today at lunch, I finished with this exercise, and have a fairly good road map to use. Needs refining, but enough for now. Orson Scott Card, in his book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (which I highly recommend), suggests that before you write any book, but especially a science fiction novel which this will be, you need to know the world it takes place in in excruciating detail. He's right, of course, because though you may not use all the data in the story (you'd better not), you'll know the world, and it'll come out clearer to the reader and be much easier to write initially.

When I was done Wednesday (and today), I felt GREAT. The story felt great, it felt alive, and all I'd done was jot down some notes.... so, there's no sense denying it, Plague of Locusts is going to be the road I take.

I'd pretty much written all of this blog entry when I popped in to visit author Jodi Picoult's website (www.jodipicoult.com) - I'm currently listening to the unabridged recording of Vanishing Acts and really, really enjoying it. She describes her books as part romance, part courtroom drama, part thriller, and I'd say that's a pretty good description. In her Q&A page, a question is asked: What is the greatest thing you learned? Her answer hit home for me in so many ways, as you'll see when you read the answer.

She said, "Patience. I could have written a quick genre novel, or tailored my books to be more like the bestsellers that were out there... but instead I chose to write the books I wanted to write, and let readers accrue by telling their friends what they were missing. You don't have to compromise what's important to you, in order to succeed." Sage words, Jodi, and well-timed.

What does all this mean to me? I don't know. Am I stepping back or stepping forward? I don't know. Will this sell? I don't know.

Will I write it? I think so – I'm excited about it, so yes, I will write it. Will this one sell? I don't know.

Speaking of plagues... Plague of Darkness might be rearing its dirty, ugly head again - depends on what my Italian agent thinks of possible changes with it. Might need to be looked at in places, especially in the latter half. I'd prefer not to go back in there, but I will if it makes it better. You always do, if it'll make it better. The only reason I finished the rewrite in the first place is that it felt like such a waste of so much time spent on it already not to finish the rewrite. If I need to readdress parts, even rewrite complete chapters, I I'll do it. Gladly. Will it matter? Who knows.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Blah Blah Blah

Hey. Well, on the writing front, decided to give "Ray Gun" one more run-through, and was glad I did. It had too many words - the Writer's Bane, as it were. Always try to say in 1 word what you've already said in 3, and the story will go much better. Anyhow, it's done - completo. I've moved it officially to my "completed" folder, and I'm in the process now of deciding where to send it. Haven't decided yet, though. The market's a bit thin these days.

The first draft of "The Bridge" was coming along nicely, but on Friday, as I began the final scene I hit a technical snag - need to work this out, then wrap up the first draft. Long way to go before it's done, of course. But redrafting's always easier than getting the pictures in my head to work out with only words on the screen.

What else, what else... nothing, I guess. It's been a while, since I started the whole novel-writing business, since I've had more than a couple of stories out there in circulation. Nice to have. A bit nostalgic. But the call of the long form is there.... taunting... ripping at my soul...

Anyway, not in the mood for waxing philosophical today, or whining and thinly veiling it as philosophical waxing... maybe next time.

Dan.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resolutions, Rocky and Tibetan Enlightenment

OK, sorry, was a day later than I said. Holidays have officially rolled away toward the horizon and normal, too-busy life is kicking into high gear again, so now that I have no time, I should be able to get more stuff done.

On the writing front, special thanks to Janet, always my first line editor, and also to Michelle Pendergrass, for their editorial suggestions for "Ray Gun." I'll be typing these in today and maybe I'll run through the story one more time before deciding on where to begin sending it out, testing the editorial waters as they say. If you're a writer, always, always, have someone proof your work. The act of creating stories is a solitary endeavor, to be sure, but editing in the final stretches is so much more productive when you have someone to take a look at it before sending to any markets - fresh eyes, new perspective. I've never given a story to someone for proofing without getting a handful (at least) of great suggestions that make it better. Never let pride get in the way of asking for criticism. Proud writers are unpublished writers.

I'm currently working on the first draft of a new story, called "The Bridge." I'd started this one in a long meeting where it looked like I was taking a lot of notes, but in fact since I wasn't really much of a participant, I decided to try an exercise I'd read about in "The Writer" magazine (quite a good mag for writers of all levels). The exercise is a sort of free-writing, outlining thing, coming up with images and thoughts from nothing, and seeing how they interact. "The Bridge" was the result, growing fully-formed in my head by the time I was done. Now, I just have to get it down in prose form. So far, it's coming along nicely. Did some research on Boston's Tobin Bridge beforehand, so I'm probably on Homeland Security's watch list now. :-)

No word on any of the other stories out there. A couple have been at the same place for a long time. One's been on the shortlist for a rather prestigious anthology called Borderlands for two and a half years. Normally, I'd have pulled it long ago, but past editions of this one have published the likes of Straub and King, so it's worth leaving it alone. Still, this is a rare case. The story, written with author Paul Tremblay, has a rather sordid past. It was accepted for publication by Fangoria about 5 years ago, then Fangoria closed their fiction, so it never got published (and we never got paid), then it was short listed for a pretty big anthology, which subsequently closed before it was published. I've begun to think the story's cursed. Another story of mine is on the senior editor's desk of a pretty big, slick magazine, and has been since May of '06, but I've let it sit because a) it's a cool magazine which is fairly selective and to get in there would be quite an honor, considering the competition for a slot in its pages, and b) they still publish issues regularly. In a way, being on the "maybe" list is better than a no, but not always. If the market is simply dead, i.e. hasn't published an issue in a long time, etc, then being on a short list doesn't mean anything except the story's wasting opportunities elsewhere. But as long as those behind the magazine are continuing to move it forward, then being on a short list can be a good thing. It means if it's accepted, all that time waiting is not for naught. Of course, my patience is only so plentiful. :-)

Had a brief, bizarre case of 24-hour flu since the last entry. I seem to get sick that way, something hits me upside the head, usually in the evening, knocks me out for a day, then I'm fine. There've been cold and fluey symptoms running through the family, but looks like we're coming out the other end, once my son's current ailment finally clears up. Thank God for Advil. We live in an age of medical miracles, if you think about it. There are little brown pills for every kind of muscle ache and swollen body parts, little red pills to prevent embarrassment in public places, little blue pills to make you a better lover, little white pills to keep from running to the men's room every ten minutes, glasses to help you read the small print on the bottles of little pills. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, finding your life tied to one or more of these little medical marvels, relying on them to make life better. Then you wonder what they did thirty, forty, a hundred years ago. Suffered, most likely, in pain or embarrassment or emotional heartbreak, or simply died (especially pre-penicillin and pre-chocolate ice cream days). And to be honest, we're not really tied down to these, rather, if we're blessed to have them available to us, we use them, and hopefully appreciate how much longer the "good" can stay in our good life. We live in an age of medical miracles, and if we can, we should take advantage of what's out there, and spend the time we have appreciating Life in general, and those we're allowed to share it with.

Happy New Year everyone. I'm not a big resolution person. In my mind, if you wait until a particular date to begin doing something, or not doing something, you have no real intention of doing it in the first place. If you did, you wouldn't be waiting until January 1st to begin. New Year's resolutions are simply a group method of procrastination. If you need to make one, though, resolve to tell the people closest to you, or even not so close, that you love them. In words, or actions. Not just the "I'm still here so that should count for something" day-to-day method, but something special. Saying it is the usual standard, but for some, maybe words don't hold as much meaning as actions. But there are ways, some small, some big. Just because you don't want to speak the words, maybe say it anyway, if you mean it, or find that special other way. Communicating how much we mean to each other is a steady, two-way conversation, one that should be nurtured and held up as the most important thing in the word, the vine from which all other branches in our lives grow out of. Sometimes we say it too much, watering down its meaning, sometimes we don't say it enough, sometimes these happen at the same time, throwing the world out of balance for a time. If there is a meaning of life, maybe it's simply finding the balance and sticking to it until it goes eschew, then adjusting until you have it back again.

I must have been a Tibetan monk in a previous life, or something.

Saw Rocky Balboa last night. For the final installment of the Rocky Franchise - 5 stars out of a possible 5. If you're not a Rocky fan, this one won't be for you, though you might still enjoy it. If you are a Rocky fan, go see it. You won't be disappointed.

See ya...
Dan