Artist Spotlight: “Interview with Cover Artist-Illustrator Bob Veon…”

If you draw or write in the genre communities, if you are affiliated with comic books and illustration in any shape or form, if you know who Alex McVey, Vincent Chong, and Daniela Siera is, then you probably know who Bob Veon is.  If not, you are missing out on the next big thing in horror and scifi illustration, Ebook and print cover art, as well as mind-blowing graphic design.  Like McVey, Chong and Siera, Bob Veon is currently breaking into the big time.  2012 seems to be his year, and things are only looking up for 2013.  Here is a small press artist that turns your visions into beautiful—or scary, if that’s how you like it—prints.  A man who can turn a canvas or book cover into the next museum masterpiece, or who can bring ideas to the table that probably no other artist of his caliber can.  This freelance master of pencils, ink, paint and Photoshop is also available for hire.  Let it be said that there is nothing this man can’t do.  He is the next award-winning genre artist.  It is not only an honor and a privilege to obtain his services for my own fiction work, but to interview him this very day.  See what inspires him and makes him tick.  You will also see some of his favorite art samples and be able to contact him at the end of the interview should you desire his services.  And now, on with the Q and A…

Robert Veon (a.k.a. Bob) hard at work

Lawrence: Bob, I’m glad you could be here today.  Let’s start from the beginning.  Where did you grow up and go to school?

Bob:  Thanks for having me here!  I grew up in East Palestine, Ohio, and went to high school there.  After, I went to Pittsburgh Technical Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I studied Multimedia and Graphic Design.

Lawrence: What was your childhood like?

Bob:  Probably pretty much the same as any other kid growing up in the 80’s/90’s.  I was always interested in horror movies and books from a very early age and anything else creepy and strange.  I liked to play video games and draw, read comic books.  Pretty typical stuff.

Bob Veon  — pencil, ink, canvas, computer art, etc.

Lawrence: How did you first get into drawing?

Bob:  I liked to draw pretty early on in life.  Ever since I was able to pick up a crayon, I think I’ve been drawing since!  I always liked to come up with strange creatures and places that were different from what you saw in life.  When I was a kid I was always fascinated with drawing skulls and skeletons (no shocker that I still have that fascination).  I remember a tornado going over the apartments we lived in during the mid-80’s and afterward I went into my “tornado drawing phase.” Drawing has always been my place to go to think and look at things.

I always doodled in my notebooks at school and at work.  Probably about 2005 or so I decided to start doing more elaborate work with it.  Trying to make something distinct, original.  I came to this decision that I’d make some stuff that I would like to hang on the walls around me, art that would reflect myself and things I found interesting.  Then a friend of mine suggested that I try doing illustrations for short stories, so I checked around online and Whispers of Wickedness gave me a try.

Lawrence: I used to be a reviewer and contributor for Whispers of Wickedness.  So tell me, what inspires you? For example, certain music and video games set the mood for me.  But they also inspire me, too.

Bob:  I’ve always been drawn to dark and strange themes.  When I draw I tend to put on a lot of music that reflects that, and the two of them, music and drawing, seem to go together great!  I tend to listen to things like Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson.  A lot of Industrial music too, things like Wumpscut, Combichrist, and Dismantled.  That sort of thing.  It really adds an energy to what you’re doing!

Bob Veon’s Comic Book work 1

Bob Veon’s Comic Book work 2

Lawrence: Let’s talk influences.  Everybody has them.  What writers, artists, or filmmakers influenced you and your work?

Bob:  Huge fan of Stephen King’s work – The Dark Tower series is still something I read over and over.  Clive Barker has been a major influence in my life since I first saw Hellraiser and then went on to read his books and get acquainted with his artwork.  He’s great in any medium he works in, as far as I’m concerned.  Besides fiction, I read a lot on paranormal subjects.  The things like alien abduction, UFOs in general; mysterious occurrences, cryptozoology, and conspiracy theories. Books by folks like John Keel and Jim Marrs. There’s a lot of strange things that happen in the world that kind of get brushed aside.  I don’t know what’s more fascinating a lot of times, the stories you hear themselves, or the reactions in the “official world” to them.  As far as art goes, I’ve always been amazed by HR Giger’s work – definitely an original vision there!  Frank Miller’s black and white comic style is definitely something I was impressed by.  Jae Lee is fantastic in that whole positive/negative style too.  I love his attention to minute details.

Bob Veon’s work space

Bob Veon & Lawrence Dagstine project

Lawrence: I love your penciling and inking style the most.  I love how you draw everything by hand first.  But at the same time you’re the kind of guy who can do pencils and inks one day, then jump from canvas to crayon to computer art the next.  What is your favorite medium to work in? Also, what mediums are you experienced in?

Bob:  I’m going to have to say that the medium that seems to be “me” the most is pen and ink drawings.  It’s a pretty fun and worthwhile effort all around to see what you can come up with.  When I first started to get serious with pen and ink drawings I would sit down to a piece of paper with just a pen, no pencils or other starting points, and just start going.  Make a mistake?  Just fold it into what I was doing somehow!  It could get challenging, but at the same time was pretty exciting.  Especially when I pulled off something that looked good!

I also like to paint a lot, but haven’t done much of that in the past year.  It’s always interesting to me how drawing and painting, while essentially very similar in that you are trying to create form, space, and value, defining something two-dimensional to look a certain way, are so very different to do in technique.

As for other mediums, I do stuff with Photoshop, but mainly just for coloring or adding effects.  I don’t do much with it aside from that.  I do a lot with Illustrator which is a really interesting graphic design program with a lot of potential.  When I was in school I worked in some 3D programs but never really got into them like I thought I would.

Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean 1 – Bob Veon

Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean 2

Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean 3

Lawrence: Originality.  It’s definitely something you have.  What is your take on it?

Bob:  Like I said before, I was striving to try to go into places that I hadn’t seen before when I started getting serious with my artwork.  I try to be as original as possible when I’m coming up with things to work on, but I’m sure that you see a lot of the things that influence me in there as well.  I guess that you’ll always have that, though.

Lawrence: Your black and white illustrations would look great on somebody’s back or forearm.  I’m sure they would also make your typical tattoo artist salivate.  Have you ever thought about working alongside a tattoo artist?

Bob:  I have indeed!  Actually, I’ve done tattoo designs for a few people.  My girlfriend actually got one that she asked me to design for her.  I did check out a tattoo shop a few years ago that was looking for apprentices and took in several of my sketchbooks for the owner to look through.  He seemed to be really impressed with what I was doing and said it was very original, which I took as a great compliment!  Unfortunately, due mainly to time and economic reasons, I wasn’t able to go forward with this.

Family Reunion Novella – pencils

Family Reunion Novella – colors

Lawrence: A lot of artists create their own graphic novels or books of their work these days.  They even do it on places like Lulu or CreateSpace.  Have you ever thought about coming out with an art book?

Bob:  I finished up a graphic novel script just last year that I’d love to get moving on.  I started penciling about three pages then got busy with other projects, but would love to get back to it.  I know that it’s going to be a long project, and I think that kind of keeps me reserved on it.

I do have a book of artwork available through Lulu from 2007 called Landscapes of Hell.  It’s still available if anyone’s interested.

(to order Landscapes of Hell: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bobveon)

The Paraplegic – pencils

The Paraplegic – colors

Lawrence: Who are some clients, authors or publications you have done artwork for?

Bob:  I started off doing black and white illustrations for Whispers of Wickedness.  They always had some really good stories!  From there I started working with Jason Gaskell on his online magazine Oriental Tales, doing illustrations for the stories people sent in.  Other than that, I was asked to send some original work in for Taj Mahal Review and Harvests of New Millennium.  For a while I hadn’t been doing much illustration and then just this last summer Jason Gaskell got in touch with me about doing illustrations for more of his short fiction for a collection he wanted to put out.

Grim Reaper print (part 1) by Bob Veon

Grim Reaper print (part 2) by Bob Veon

Lawrence: What do you think art is most lacking these days? And why?

Bob:  I try not to get too elitist about art.  It’s usually something you get or you don’t, but the fact that someone created something, took the time out of their life to put the energy in to make something for someone or just for themselves, that’s pretty important and deserves a look.  If I want to get picky about things though, I could say there is too much of a reliance on digital technology to make something look good.  But that would be a stupid thing to say since I do it myself!

Gargoyle-Dragon Creature

In Thrall to the Succubus

Lawrence: Although it’s taken both of us almost a year, what do you think of the “Six Novellas” eBook project? Have you ever done something like this before?

Bob:  It’s been a lot of fun and exciting!  I never know what to expect in the next story I get from you, and that adds to the fun of what I do for them.  Hell, I’d never drawn a pirate ship before and then found myself doing it for Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean!  I’ve never done anything like this before, but would love to do more of it.  It certainly keeps the creative process moving!

Lawrence: If there was an artist or writer you could work beside, living or dead, who would it be? And why?

Bob:  I think it would be pretty fun to work with someone like David Lynch.  He certainly brings a very unique touch to whatever he’s working on.   Really just about anyone I mentioned before as influences would be great fun to work with.  It would be neat to see firsthand how they go about their work.

Death Clock

Dream Within a Dream

Lawrence: Funny how when we first teamed up we learned that we owned the same exact video games, the same exact toys and stickers (Star Wars, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, etc.), and other collectibles as if we had identical childhoods.  Fun Stuff… What do you do for fun? Where do you turn when it’s time to take a break?

Bob:  I know what you mean!  It was pretty wild to find out we pretty much owned the same toys and video games!  Usually for fun I like to play video games.  I’ve been a huge fan of them since the old Nintendo system and haven’t stopped playing since!  Things like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, Castlevania – I enjoy them all.  I also like to watch movies and read.  Seems like most of the things I liked to do when I was a kid have pretty much stayed the same!

Nurse by Bob Veon

Secrets of Darkness

Soul-Eating Demon

Lawrence: In twenty years time, where would you like to see yourself?

Bob:  I would love to be able to work on my artwork full time.

Lawrence: If you could be somebody famous in history, who would it be? And why?

Bob:  I don’t know if he’s considered someone famous, but the Count St. Germain.  I just want to know if he was this immortal that he claimed to be or a fake.  Regardless, I’m sure it would be an interesting time!

Scarecrow Piece by Bob Veon

Tarot Reader piece by Bob Veon

The Return by Bob Veon

Lawrence: Favorite comic book superhero and super villain? And why?

Bob:  Oh boy, this is one that’s hard for a comic geek!  If I had to boil it down, I’m going to go with Wolverine for superhero.  Why?  With his powers and unbreakable skeleton he pretty much has no choice but to be this tough little ball of fury taking it to the villains every time they come up!  As for super villain – Herr Starr from the Preacher comics.  He takes villainy to a ridiculously fun level to read!

Lawrence: You know it’s bad for you.  Favorite junk food?

Bob:  I could eat pizza every day if I could, though I don’t consider it a junk food because it contains the four food groups.  See how I justified that?

The Tormentor by Bob Veon

We Can Make You Better

Wicked Forest

Lawrence: Have any advice for aspiring artists who might be reading this?

Bob:  If you want to make artwork just do it. And keep on doing it.  Don’t try to compare what you’re doing with what someone else has done because that’s a very quick way to get discouraged.  Good and bad are arbitrary things in art, and you are your own judge.  The important thing is that you are expressing yourself creatively and hopefully gaining confidence as to just what you’re capable of doing with your abilities.  It takes time and effort, but you will find your own unique style.

Canvas Work 1

Canvas Work 2

Canvas Work 3

Lawrence: Bob, I want to thank you for being here today and wish you the best of luck.  Do you have any last words?

Bob:  Just that I hope everyone likes what we’ve got on the Six Novellas project for next year! It’s been a pretty fun thing to be working on, so I’m hoping everyone gets that sense of fun when they get to read the stories.  Thanks again, Lawrence!

Commissioned cover for Surprising Stories

Need a book cover done? Or maybe a canvas or a graphic novel? Hire Bob Veon now.  Click any of the links below:

Main website:

http://bobveon.webs.com/index.htm

Also check out:

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bob-veon.html

http://www.artistrising.com/shop/tags/bob-veon.htm

http://bobveon.deviantart.com/

Or contact Bob Veon directly at:

bobveon@yahoo.com

Artwork Copyright by Bob Veon.  All Rights Reserved. 

Proofreading and Writing Services – Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Hi, my name is Lawrence, and I’m a writer of fiction and non-fiction.  If you clicked on this page, then you are probably interested in my proofreading services, or at the very least, wondering what I can do in regards to the written word.  Let me first tell you a little bit about myself and this website.  Many people know me as an author of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror), and my name is pretty synonymous within the small press.  I’ve been writing for well over fifteen years, and I have an extensive publishing history.  Think of this site as a sort of virtual resume of some of my previous work, upcoming work, and publications.  Not just the services I provide, since I consider myself a working writer.  I’ve been called prolific when it comes to writing short stories and informative when it comes to magazine articles.  Wherever I go, any social media platform I visit, people tend to say, “Oh, Lawrence Dagstine, he’s that Scifi/Horror writer.  Sure, I’ve heard of him.”

This is me, hard at work for you.

Unfortunately, it’s a label I’m stuck with—because I chose to enter that field and write in that form.  You see, as a child I grew up to movies like Star Wars and Aliens, TV shows like Doctor Who and The Incredible Hulk, and I read Marvel comic books and digested good science fiction literature (no, great!).  Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, you name it.  I read voraciously! I lived around the corner from a Forbidden Planet and was practically there every day.  I did book reports on lengthy Stephen King novels in 2nd and 3rd grade, and was the head of the boys in reading and writing in my school district at the time (the 1980s).  Years back my IQ was tested and I got a score of 150 (teachers called me gifted).  I even delivered prescriptions to the late Kurt Vonnegut and, for a brief period, became friends with him and he a sort of mentor to me.  So reading and writing, especially genre, has always been in my blood.  But I prefer to be called a Freelance Writer because I work with words in general.  It’s what I studied.  Not just fiction.  Genre fiction is pretty much the “fandom” side.  And it is very hard to make a full-time income writing fiction, as most genre writers are paid a pittance.  I’ve known writers who got their BA or MA, thinking they were going to write the next literary masterpiece or appear in The Paris Review, only to become editors or teachers.  They weren’t delusional, they had the confidence, their hearts were in it, they just dreamed a little too high is all.  Even I dreamed high once, then my first client base involved writing and proofing pamphlets and instruction manuals.  So you really need to expand your writing skills to other areas, other venues.

Now if you’ve written something that you feel needs improvement, but don’t know how to go about fixing it, ask yourself a few questions… Have you ever had trouble with words like ‘further’ and ‘farther?’ Perhaps verb usage? Do you know the difference between their/there/they’re? Did you know that words like ‘never mind’, or ‘any more’, or ‘all together’ are not compound words? They’re all two words! Does your story have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Plenty of conflict? Because something has to happen in your story, and something has to be resolved.  The first sentence means more than you know, because it’s the first thing the reader sees after the title and byline.  It’s what immediately draws the reader in.  What about non-fiction, or product placement, or a cool advertisement? Maybe you have an idea and want somebody to word that idea a certain way, where it can potentially become a moneymaking vehicle.  Maybe you need help creating or formatting a resume or cover letter, want to stand out from the rest of the crowd when it comes time to apply for that killer job.  Need a catalog done, or a brochure, or a catchy slogan? Need some minor ghostwriting (query)? Textbook writing or editing? Essays or proposals? Striking web content for a business or organization? Help with a novelette or novella? What’s that? Want me to write you a Western Romance? Okay, I’ll write you a Western Romance.  You’re the boss.

No matter what it is, if it involves words, I can probably help you.  My publishing history consists of over 400 fiction credits in print magazines, webzines, anthologies, and miscellaneous periodicals.  My non-fiction consists of 150 credits, online and offline, for small and medium circulation newspapers, trade journals, regionals, and everyday magazines in need of good filler.  I’ve penned video game reviews in the past for Nintendo Power and written greeting card jingles for Hallmark’s competitors.  I’ve written articles on the paranormal, pharmaceuticals, beach erosion, Native American spirituality, theology, historical subjects, marriage, divorce, pets, vacation spots, real estate, wrestling and more.  I’ve shared tables of contents with two Hugo Award winners and two Bram Stoker winners.  I can do just about 75% of what’s out there.

Still in doubt? Well, ask yourself these 12 sample questions.

Do you know how to assemble a story arc? Do you know what character development is? Do you know what a three-act and five-act narrative is? Are you familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style? Have you ever referenced the work of John Gardner (On Becoming a Novelist, The Forms of Fiction, The Art of Fiction)? Do you know the difference between literary and mainstream? Do you know what structural analysis is? Have you ever studied English Literature—authors like Graham Greene, Truman Capote, EM Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the like? Do you know what proper manuscript format is? Do you know the difference between filler and feature article? Do you know how to write a pitch? Do you know the difference between a plot formula and a plot device? Heck, do you even know what I’m talking about?

If you answered no to five or more of the above, then it wouldn’t hurt to have me or some other qualified individual as your proofreader/editor.  Because I will only improve your fiction or non-fiction project, and only to your liking.  That is what I do.  I work with words.  Think of me as a sort of literary engineer.  I check for errors, make corrections, do any necessary research, and make your prose more persuasive.  I assist you in getting it the attention it deserves.  I develop fresh, innovative, and compelling work.  I drive constant voice, grammar, format, and diction across all text.  I know that your project is your baby.  It was birthed from your imagination.  But you must be able to take criticism and suggestions.  It will only help your project stand out from the rest, and help you get better.  What I am not is a copy editor.  A copy editor is an entirely different animal.  Copy editors usually work, or have worked, for publishing houses.  And good ones (not the kind you see for these run-of-the-mill small presses, who also publish their own books with the same company).  They do what’s called line edits.  They review your manuscript and send it to you with revisions in a program like Microsoft Word.  I do NOT do line edits.  Yes, I am certified in editing, but there is a great difference between a workshop certificate and a staff editor with more than 10 years experience at one of the big houses.  Yes, I have a background and education in journalism, creative writing, technical writing, and the business side of writing that could very well meet your needs.  Yes, as a proofreader I will go over your manuscript a minimum of three times, acquiring your voice and style.  Yes, I will print out your story or article, take a red pen to it, highlight certain areas I feel should be highlighted, and tell you what I think.  Yes, as your proofreader I will pay attention to the usual stuff like grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency and sentence structure.  But I am not a copy editor.  I’m being honest here.  Even I use an outside editor for lengthy projects.  Because everybody needs a qualified editorial eye.  After all, how can you successfully edit a work that came from your own subconscious mind?

Difference between copyediting and proofreading:

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-difference-between-copyediting-and-proofreading/

Difference between copyediting and line editing:

http://publicizeyourbook.blogspot.com/2007/04/difference-between-copy-and-line.html

A copy editor will usually charge you by the word or line (I charge a flat fee).  They often do book manuscripts, and make up what’s called a style sheet.  If you’re looking for one, personally, I suggest looking for someone with at least three years experience.  Also, be careful of line editors posing as copy editors, as they can really screw up the flow of your manuscript if they don’t know what they’re doing.  This has happened to me.

Once again, I charge a very affordable flat fee.  Satisfaction guaranteed.  On a budget? I understand we’re still in a recession, the economy may very well not be good for years to come, and because of that, I am willing to work with you.  I expect at least half the cost of the project at the beginning of our agreement.  You are to pay me the other half after the project is finished.  Our email acts as a sort of electronic contract, if you will.  Research or additional time spent on projects (like staying up all night and losing sleep to meet a deadline on your behalf), costs extra.  And no, not an arm and a leg.  You are responsible for the cost of things like encyclopedias, visual aids, books purchased on Amazon, transportation places, or other reference materials.  I fact-check well, and I give citations where instructed or needed.  I do great copy—print copy! I’m not the kind of lazy individual who just looks something up on Google or Wikipedia.  Google is one of the worst reference tools you can turn to.  That’s because you usually find more than one answer to a particular question.  A long time ago I was commissioned to do a short article on Planned Parenthood in the new millennium.  I needed abortion statistics.  I found eleven well-rounded, informative sites by using Google.  The only problem is I found eleven different statistics.  So which was the right answer? For your project, if I have to go to a library, then so be it.  To the library it is.

I put in the time and effort to make your project as professional as possible.  I am proficient in Microsoft Word and Open Office (sorry, no crappy programs like WordPerfect).  I can give your project the treatment it deserves, and if you feel it needs work or you are not fully satisfied, I will tailor it to suit your needs at no additional cost.  I want you to be happy with my work.  I want you to succeed.  You retain all rights.  My name does not go on your written material.  I merely spruce it up.  So do you have something that involves the written word? Send me an email today for a free evaluation or price quote.  Give me an outline of your project and what you’re looking for.  Tell me about yourself and the work you do in three to six paragraphs; small businesses and companies most welcome.  If you want, I’ll even give you a freebie.  Three double-spaced pages for fiction (or 1,000 words); a half-a-page for non-fiction (150 words)—absolutely free! Have a fax machine? Want more proof emailed to you? Press clips always available upon request.  And I do simple typing too!

So contact me today, tell a friend, because no project is too large.  All material should be sent as an attachment.  I look forward to our partnership and any questions you may have.  Contact: ldagstine @ hotmail.com

Sincerely Yours,

Lawrence Dagstine

Speculative Fiction Author/Freelance Writer & Editor

Proofreading and Writing Services

Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin

Other New Entries: “Proofreading Services”

Lawrence Dagstine: “400 Publishing Credits…”

 

“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.” 

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

 “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lawrence Dagstine

Short Stories * Novelettes * Digital Stories

Magazines – Periodicals – Webzines – Anthologies – Kindle

Other New Entries: “The Dude” – Biography

Author’s Note: F. Scott Fitzgerald… The Great Gatsby… One of my ten favorite authors.

Lawrence Dagstine: “Historical Works in Progress…”

On Alternate History, Historical Weird Tales, and SF Serials…

In the next couple of weeks I will be continuing my bimonthly series of Free Fiction.  This time I will be serializing a science fiction-themed novella about two orphans that get stranded during an interplanetary adoption. It takes place on the largest planet in the universe — The planet Ragnarok (aptly named after the warring Gods of Norse Mythology, which later supposedly caused a lot of catastrophes concerning Mother Nature and the like for Mankind).  You’ll understand why as you get into it over the course of the year.  There are even a few flashback sequences similar to the series LOST.  On Ragnarok, Quadrant 4, located on the outer rim of the Cat’s Eye Nebula, like most of my worlds, there are eighteen seasons.  Unlike Earth, which has only four.  The good guys are a bunch of giant lizards with chest communicators.  Think the Silurians from Doctor Who, only bigger, stronger.  Bad guys are a bunch of elemental wind creatures who harvest meat by “shadowy” & “vampiric” means.  These guys are the horror element to the story.  Main orphan characters are Chelsea and Blake, and you are sure to fall in love with these two kids.  Mind you, this serial is FIRST DRAFT, so if you see the occasional typo or a bit of redundancy, I don’t plan on publishing this anywhere but my homepage.  Entertainment purposes only.  I could best describe the early portions as a cross between Lord of the Flies, the movie Pitch-Black, and Living Amongst the Lizards (short story).  Serials shall run between 2,500 and 5,000 words in length.  Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.  Once again, all first draft.

Name of planned Bimonthly Serial: “Orphan’s Prey” – Stay Tuned!

On The Great Depression and post-Civil War era…

I already have a batch of finished short stories and novelettes set in these two eras.  Some accepted, too.

Story One: “A Town of Crows” – Killer Scarecrows after the Civil War now appearing in Steampunk Tales #6.  See eBooks & Kindle.

Story Two: “A Time and Place for Monsters” – a very long novelette with vampires and werewolves during the Great Depression coming to Cover of Darkness.  Also, a bit of back history concerning President Hoover and The Monsters.  Never before done.

Story Three: “The Two-Sided Market” – Dedicated to H.G. Wells/Parallel Piece.

Story Four: “The Great Martian Depression” – Scifi currently appearing in The Martian Wave Issue#1.

Story Five: “FDR and the Locusts” – Franklin D. Roosevelt and BIG Insects, with a plot twist.

Cleopatra VII - Brooklyn Museum of New York 2008 - 2009

On Cleopatra and Alternate History…

There are two finished stories, finally edited, featuring Cleo as a fourteen-year-old.  They take place between Ancient Egypt and Rome. Alternate History meets Historical Fantasy, and there will also be mages, sorcerers, the undead, gods, and demigods! Also, the stories begin with Mark Antony as narrator for the first page and ends with him conceptually.  Here, I decided to experiment.

Story One: “Young Cleopatra and The Whispering Ancients”

Story Two: “Young Cleopatra and The Eye of Horus.”

Story Three: UNTITLED (coming 2011, and concerning the suicide of Mark and Cleo).

On Pompeii and Rome…

Next, later in the year off to Pompeii and some more fiction in Rome.  Introducing the Children of Ash short stories/novelettes.  All stand-alone tales, which I often prefer.

Story One: “The Children of Ash” – After Volcano Day.

Story Two: “The Nightmare Lair” – Inside the Volcano.

Story Three: “The Vampires of Pompeii” – The Romans have some neighbors. 😉

I’m also thinking up a totally “messed-up” Caligula-style crossover piece as well.  Of course, this is still not a guarantee that a market will accept all of them.  Never is.

I also noticed that a lot of Fresh Blood PDFs were sold.  Like 40 or 50 in the first two, three weeks.  At $3.50, yeah, it’s a great price. If you own a reader, click on eBooks & Kindle and treat yourself to a copy.  You can also now read PDFs on the Amazon Kindle, or download the free iPhone/iPad application off of Amazon.com as well.  I’d like to thank all of you.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  The same with my scarecrow story in Steampunk Tales #6 (www.steampunktales.com).

Other than that, there are ten brand new short stories and novelettes completed, my first novella is in the editorial screening stages, and ten brand new acceptances for 2010-2011.  I wish I had the time to blog ten times per day, but life does not permit me such luxury.  I’ll try and fit what I can.  Historical stories take two, three weeks alone.  However, some acceptances are to print anthologies.  So stay tuned! SF serial starts Late April/May 2010.  It’s gonna be fun!

Cheers,

Lawrence Dagstine

Print Magazines * Amazon Kindle * The iPhone/iPad * Sony & PDF Download

Other New Entries: “General News”

P.S.: Speaking of crazy historical tales, enjoy the new season of Doctor Who.   Series Five with Matt Smith!

Aoife’s Kiss #31, December 2009… (Now Available!)

It’s my 11th story appearance within the folds of Sam’s Dot Publishing’s magazine, Aoife’s Kiss.  This would be the December 2009 issue, a pretty funky cover.  This issue also features Ken Goldman.  No. 31.  Interesting fact about the magazine: the title comes from Irish.  After all these years, I didn’t even know that.  However, if you love science fiction and adventure stories, you definitely can’t go wrong with a copy. 

AOIFE’S KISS, December 2009 – Issue No. 31

APPEARANCE No. 11 – Science Fiction Magazines

SUBSCRIBE/BUY NOW – JUST CLICK BELOW:

http://www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm#aoife

Submission Guidelines and MORE:

http://www.samsdotpublishing.com/aoife/cover.htm

Featuring Work by: Theodora Fair, D.W. Manning, Kate MacLeod, Ken Goldman, Marshall Payne, Kristin Noone, Kimberly Colley, Lawrence R. Dagstine, Jason Heller, Chris Ward, Curt Jeffreys, Geoffrey A. Landis, Julie Mark Cohen, Lenora Farrington-Sarrouf, Vanessa Waters, Justin Bohardt, Jonathan C. Holeman, Hillary Bartholomew, Shelly Bryant, William Beyer, Jamie Lee Moyer, Stephen Jarrell Williams, Michael Ceraolo, Jenna Kelly, Maggie Desmond O’Brien, Jene Erick Beardsley, Roberta Shepard, Carolyn Crow, and Edward Cox.

More Issues of Aoife’s Kiss featuring Lawrence Dagstine (click below):

https://lawrencedagstine.com/magazine-credits-dagstine/

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Lawrence Dagstine: “On the state of Science Fiction…”

…And a few other thoughts.

The following essay pertains to mostly science fiction.  It’s an opinion-based essay and nothing more than that.  These are my views, take it for what it’s worth.  It derives from something Harlan Ellison originally wrote on his Webderland Website a few days ago, a paragraph which can be found here: http://harlanellison.com/home.htm

Harlan Ellison thinks SF is dead.

Harlan Ellison thinks SF is dead.

 He might be right.  Here is what he wrote:

“Literature is dead. Civility is dead. Ethical considerations are dead. Common sense is dead. Dignity, respect, responsibility are dead. It is a cheapshit spur-of-the-moment tawdry and empty-headed congeries of societies, here, there, everywhere. It is a universally cheapjack time in which a steadily more ignorant and venal species has become drunk on notoriety and the scent of Paris Hilton’s thong. Science fiction is dead? You just noticed? You come late to the literature party; the hyenas have long since been attracted to the stench of stupidity; text them for me: bon appetit.”

HARLAN ELLISON / 28 August 2009

Now…

Did you know there are over 100,000 readers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror out there? At the same time, in any given year, there are around 100,000 submitters of genre fiction out there.  Worldwide, that is a rough estimate.  I was surprised to learn from one hobbyist publication that during their quarterly reading periods, they receive anywhere from 300 to 500 manuscripts.  And they only pay 25 bucks.  So the next time you get a publishing credit or get shortlisted for a story slot, give yourself a pat on the back, because getting published in genre fiction nowadays is sort of like trying to win the lottery.  Actually, if you live in New York, it’s probably easier to win the Take Five or one of those Loose Change/Bingo scratch-offs.  Or you could just pay-to-play (many esteemed venues such as F&SF are doing it, even though for years such places advised against it).  That’s code for broke.  Still, there are much more writers than there are magazines (it’s sad), and buying something as simple as a sample issue or two can help a magazine stay alive and keep slots – part-time and full-time jobs for those who struggle – open and afloat.  Then you have the whole e-revolution and how prices just went down on X-BOX 360’s, Nintendo Wii’s, and Playstation 3’s.  Now that makes it a whole lot easier to introduce a new generation to geek-a-ture.

Everybody has a story to tell, but not everybody wants to listen.  People are laughing now at devices like the Kindle, the iPhone, the Sony eReader.  I’m thinking way ahead of that, wondering what will replace those devices in twenty years time. 

Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories

Remember the days of Jack Vance, Frederick Pohl, Philip Jose Farmer, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, A.E. Van Vogt, Fritz Lieber, Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and yes, guys like Harlan Ellison? Remember the days of Richard Laymon, Robert McCammon, Hugh B. Cave, Charles L. Grant? Remember female authors such as Vonda McIntyre, Connie Willis, Ursula K. Leguin, and Octavia Butler? And yes, there are some notable British names I’m leaving out, that should be included.  Nowadays Stephenie Meyer is the NEW Stephen King, and I still don’t know what to make of Margaret Atwood all these years later.  Eventually I’ll have an answer.  In 2009 we can’t wait to read about vampire Bill Compton sucking on little Sookie Stackhouse’s titties—yesteryear it was Spike humping Buffy—or tuning in to the next great classics: Fringe (yesteryear it was The X-Files).  Everywhere there are zombies, werewolves, boogeymen or things that go bumpity-bump in the night.  And vampires.  From TV to movies to comic books to graphic novels.  Zombies, werewolves, vampire crossovers.  Zombies, werewolves, vampire subgenres.  It’s kind of like the Measles, but without the vaccine. 

Before all the clichés, before all the contrived storylines and slightly more mainstream pieces with beginnings but no middles and ends… before the slice-of-life vignettes which were supposed to relate to us, our inner demons (grrr!), or be politically daring and poetic to our ears and somehow symbolic, but was actually crappy and confusing rather… You had character-driven stories, plot-driven stories, protagonists you cared about, antagonists you cursed beneath your tongue, and most of all, innovative ideas.  Some of those ideas would eventually become what you see before you today.  Some of it yet to make its debut in society.

FACT: 75% of genre writers will die poor, starving, or rely on insubstantial bank funds as their nest egg.  Most don’t want to believe change is happening, or that evolution is impossible, and that it is going to stay that way.  A vast majority already have one foot in the coffin.  Otherwise, older, former editors and writers are about eight to ten years away from being maggot food regardless.

“Ah ha, Mr. Dagstine! But I have a Limited Edition of 500 copies from such-and-such-a-press in hardcover dustjacket.  It’s science fiction literature at its finest!”

No, trust me.  It isn’t… Paging Adam Roberts, paging Adam Roberts…

There are six-billion human beings on the planet Earth; most are from Asia.  There are more books than there are people.  Out of that 500 Limited Edition run from that Small Press, you might sell 250 to 300.  Perhaps more, and those will be to your colleagues.  It’s a race against time to write and get read (if, even after your death, technology has not evolved yet again and you are preferably read).  The other day I stared at a non-fiction check for $400.00 (Dagstine is my nom de plume for horror and scifi).  Then I looked at a micro-press pub and said I must be holding my prick in my hand.  My advice: take any money you make in this profession and fucking run!

 

Maybe Harlan Ellison is right.  Maybe science fiction is dead.  And maybe horror is just one big keg party where you get to check in but you don’t check out.  Maybe fantasy is for the LARP’ers who refuse to abandon ye’ olde dungeon.  Better yet, maybe we should save ourselves the glum silences and troubles of the clinical depressions that await us twenty, thirty years down the road.  What do you think? Should we start filling  those Zoloft prescriptions a little early?

Lawrence R. Dagstine

P.S.: If you still enjoy what you do, naturally, just go with the flow.  Me, I guess I’ll still keep on submitting, keep on trucking.  After all, what else is there? 

Lawrence Dagstine: “The Runaway Hack…”

DING-DING-DING! Hello and welcome, good fans.  How are you today? I’m fine, thank you.  Welcome to FREE SHORT STORY DAY!  Today I figured would be a good time to share a nice ditty.  It’s been a while since I’ve put up a work, which I often do around Halloween.  However, I decided to go this time with something a little bit absurd.  A bit of satire, if you will.  With that said, I hope you enjoy.

Alfocus-NationalLibraryWeekIntroduction539

The Runaway Hack

by

Lawrence R. Dagstine

He was moving into it all again.  It might be a few hours or a full day developing, but the mood rose in him, like compressed air in a tank.  It was a pressure that must move toward an exit.  He looked about.  He looked at the big picture: friends and peers mostly, a few fans and admirers, well-wishers who were wannabes themselves, perhaps a few enemies, and for the rest all wordsmiths.

Wordsmiths were kind of like fucksmiths.  Each had their own prominent place in this highly developed society.  Both fucked things up when the need arise.  The only difference was that the fucksmith was twofold: to have fun and to produce the works that will eventually not earn out.  They will, in turn, each have one other function: to leave the field in a little worse shape than it was or at least aspire to.  That is the history or function of each new generation: fuck it up a little bit more for the next.  Actually, wordsmiths could bleed on paper and still be criticized about the amount they donated.  In the end, they often begged for a rejection letter or a quick, painless death.

I’ve got that bit settled, Jermaine thought.

Much of his life he was looking for a kind of salvation called obscurity, which probably explained why he was always on the run from his profession.  He tended toward a gruesome and descending philosophy when he was moving into despondence.  Actually, when he wasn’t writing short stories, despondency was a chronic part of his nature.  One of the main objects of his days was to keep the subject matter of his stories concealed, for it was the very opposite of the way the world viewed him.  Off the page, audiences figured that he hadn’t a care in the world, and never did and never would have, that he lived for sensationalism alone.  He even told himself the same thing, that he had a great gift for words.  He wanted to live out of a fairy tale where, as someone had put it, there was indescribable bullshit eternally prolonged.  He said it, he tried for it.  He even sold it.  But underneath there were the ideas.  Often this showed on the page; it came out on his face, however, in a sudden set of despair.  Or, he’d fall silent a while and have nothing to say.  And the ideas drifted away from him then, fearing to cross him in all its syntactic glory.

Perhaps that was why he was looking for escape.  Perhaps that was why he was groping his way toward Something Else (and yes, with a capital S and a capital E).  Or maybe it was the repetitions of it that made it unbearable.  To be at a convention or on a panel or at a writing function, with its outer sign of sheer bragging, ostensibly even to the life of the party, and yet inside to be saying to himself that he wished he weren’t there—at all.  Not even alive.

He was alone.  For a washed-up hack, the worst kind of aloneness in the world.  It was a feeling he experienced more and more often, of late, at these special events.  People all about were close-joined, seemingly delighted, and all was well with them.  Then he would find himself on either side, but none opposite.  Renowned as he was in smaller circles, he’d be sitting there by himself, the world moving about him, and he presumably along for the ride.  The voyeuristic kind.

Here was a legion of the destined and doomed.  He spent most of his time at the bar, watching them.  Taking a sip of his brew, he stared up at a sign.  STARCON 34 in moon-streaming colors.  They should have called it NOBODY-CON.  Some would go on to become editors or work for literary agencies.  Some would start indie presses or become poster children for RPG handbooks.  Others would die horrible deaths: being unknown.  But was that such a terrible thing? He saw one poor sap at the door of the dealer’s room wearing Vulcan ears and selling some silly never-before-done novel about space stations that could create suns with smiley faces.  The ridiculous blurbs on the back went as far as to say that the book would put a smile on your face, too.

Each convention it had been like this, sellers pacing back and forth, hours of windmilling about the dealer’s area of some hall or hotel before they could get to work or the customers would arrive to spend their hard-earned dough and pick up their usual merch.  A Star Wars book here, a Limited Edition novella there.  How the devil, Jermaine wondered, could a man in a Predator outfit have such a fat wallet and so many needs and appetites? What kind of an outfit was it that drew things into it like some absorbing tentacled underwear plant? Whatever reason, that was why the writers and dealers were here, to sell books and get insights into this strange being, in whom the rest of the public was so interested.

The man was trying to lure Jermaine further inside, to the point that he’d even give away his whole collection of Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew if he purchased just one book.  It was depressing.  Jermaine wanted to smack some sense into him.  The hotel lobby was filled with about four hundred people: fanboys with lightsabers and battleaxes and sonic screwdrivers, English fangirls in Japanese schoolgirl clothing, age-old scream queens in cheap corsets with terrible boob jobs and God knows how many facelifts, and another poor sap who had starred in one of the Saw pictures.  There had been so many, Jermaine not only forgot the actor’s name but forgot which one.

Then, of course, there were the writers…  Some retired, some semi-retired (which still meant retired).  There were the Grandmasters, and in-between panels, they had to take their Geritol.  There were the editors from the Age of the Flood, and they recounted tales of American Letters that had most people scratching their heads and thinking this all intoxicated drivel.  One man in a King Arthur’s outfit drank from a chalice and read from “The Death of the Old Guard.”  Industry heads disappeared upstairs to hotel rooms for hours.  When they finally returned to the lobby, they said, “That felt great! I’ll see you next convention!”

There were also the newbies.  Some weren’t published, some had a polished hand.  They had set out once with their aspirations and their energies, like young untried actors in Hollywood, and they had a story to tell, and now here they were pitching it.  Out of the two hundred or so of these fools who attended semi-regularly, only a dozen or so would go on to be anything.  Now they were spending airfare and hotel fare to tell the ‘Holier Than Thou’ communities that they’ve constructed worlds, that they’ve created unforgettable characters, that they’ve got the ultimate trilogy! And now they were flaunting it, at agents, at publishers, who smiled and nodded respectfully: “Sounds terribly interesting.  Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

And then, Jermaine knew their secret, he knew what the whole attendance of the convention was doing that day.  It was like a giant black hole swallowing everything up into a pile of computer-generated debris.  At some point he stood stock-still and asked himself, “What the hell am I doing here?” He was doing what a few others were doing: standing or sitting apart thinking.  Perhaps he was not alone after all. “I’m thinking while these other boobs are imagining that they’ve got a future or they’re having a good time.  The only difference is I’m trying to make some sense of it.”

A significant silence followed.

Jermaine no longer asked himself what he was doing there.  He frankly didn’t know, and he didn’t care anymore either.  He swallowed his drink in one gulp.  As a poor writer traveling from place to place, from editor to editor, from small publication to small publication, he discovered the world was seen from billions of varying vantage points.  Or disadvantage points, depending upon each person and what they believed.  His moment of failure just happened to come when he halted to ask himself what he was doing walking the floors of a particular convention.

He understood that writers were a sea at sea.  This convention was a wave on the surface, and only the best of the best—thinkers, wordsmiths, folks with MFAs and top degrees—or those with the right connections managed to get down under a few feet.  He tried to go under from time to time, but he didn’t see or feel much.  More often than not he found himself drowning.  He watched them at their work, for they were working at being productive and making money.  Most were actually having a good time, and that might be sufficient, for they were toiling for the maws of a great beast called legacy.

He sought the opposite now.

Jermaine was suddenly alone at the bar, lost in his reflections.  Those who had gathered about, talking with him, all at once received no answers. “I am just a mere hack,” he said, looking away shamefully, “you don’t want to know me.” After that, they sensed that the poor fellow was in deep thought, and they moved away.

Then a writer-editor he’d talked to on occasion approached. “So which is it this time?” he asked. “Science fiction, fantasy, horror, or that paranormal romance junk?”

Still looking down, Jermaine said, “I dabble.”

The writer-editor felt sorry for him. “What’s really bothering you, Jermaine?”

“Do I look distressed?”

“I’d say so.”

“I am.  I have the feeling the gift is leaving me, the inspiration and gusto just dwindling away.” He smiled, knowing that such a verbal crime would provoke other writer-editors into a fury. “The thing is I kind of like the idea.”

“I don’t get it.  Why, because of deadlines or you’re under strain?”

“Heh! What deadlines?” Jermaine laughed. “When I was a kid genre magazines used to do a lot for me.  I’d buy handfuls of them.  The moment a new issue hit the stands, I was there.  I bought them so often that the act of reading short stories had some kind of impact on me.  It comes back to me from time to time, of its own volition, when I’ve got writer’s block or I’m diddling my own asshole for a forty-dollar check.  Sometimes, late at night I tell myself I don’t want to be famous and I put the computer away.  Sometimes there’s no reason for this at all.  That I can understand.  Go figure.”

“Interesting.”

“That’s not the only thing,” he continued. “I thought it easy and satisfying work, for one thing.  Lately I’ve got a feeling of monotony out of it.  When my fingers grow tired of typing, I am seized with a great discomfort.  I want to hurry outside and do other much livelier things.  When the job is finished and the words THE END stamped, it often seems to me that my hands are still held out though.  I could still feel the puppeteer looking down at me, face contorted and strings being pulled.”

“All writers get those urges from time to time, Jermaine.  We call it the Need, or the Fix.  There are many names, but no faces.  We finish one story, we tackle the next.”

“Well, I’ve refused to go through it again! I’ve had a bitter argument with my conscience, and I’ve seen the light.  Years and years of putting myself through this.  At critical moments, the re-reflection of this pseudo-literary image of myself, typing out a manuscript, watching yet another zombie or vampire story unfold before my eyes.  Sooner or later, the depression comes back.  I saw myself staring at the genre as its prostrate enlarged.  I saw my fingers curving, away from the keyboard over and around to the back door.  And as I prepared to open it, I always felt the heaviness.”

“What’s the point?”

“The point is that the same heaviness is over me now, a fatigue with the critical process.  As if the last yarn is spun.  The artform comes back to me every now and then, but it is blurred, hasty, and it’s a jarring impression.” Jermaine hesitated, then: “With time I have begun to understand what each piece of the story, from page to page, means in my own life.  It has become a twist from fear to stress, fear to stress, round and round.  After each story I write, sometimes before the story, the prostrate gets bigger and the puppeteer laughs harder.  Now I have the same feeling of monotony and pointlessness that pressed on me before the writing is done.”

“It’s an unpleasant image,” the writer-editor remarked with a consoling nod.

“It’s the key to me, my good man, it’s the key!”

“Perhaps.”

“The genre is getting very big now.”

Bloated would be a better word, but when you’ve worked in this business for as long as I have, what can you do?” The writer-editor reflected for a moment. “You know, now that I think about it, I don’t really know anything else either.”

They drank for a time.  They were silent as they knocked down rounds.  They were thoughtful.  Then the writer-editor asked, “What I can’t understand is why you keep working and seem so anxious to get to work.  I should think you’d be a little weary of the grind.  Puppeteers and prostrates aside, do you know why you’re still writing?”

Jermaine gave him a look that concealed what he really thought.  He thought, Real writers are not smart.  Real writers are so goddamned blind and ignorant, it’s a fucking blessing.  But he said, “It’s weird.  I have to write.  If I didn’t write it would all end at once.  Writing is the root of a tree, and if you take away the root the thing on top will fall over.  I’d fall over.  So I write because I write.  Whether I need the money or not.  There is a thing we hacks call Keeping Afloat (and yes, with a capital K and a capital A).  And you do it.  You keep afloat.  I keep afloat with the short stories; the short form is a bladder that holds me up.  Maybe the only time I feel alive and dead is when I write.”

Some of it was true.  The writing ruddered Jermaine, kept him afloat in the sea which shook more and more heavily these days.  Writing was the stabilizer.  He knew it, and like a twenty dollar a day drug addiction, he even escaped from himself when he wrote.  But how long could he keep on at it.  It was not salvation.  And that was what he sought.

“So where do you go from here?” the writer-editor asked. “What now?”

“Peace of mind,” Jermaine answered.

“Ahh, now that’s impossible in this game.  You and I both know that.”

“I don’t think so.  I’ve been yearning for obscurity for quite some time now.”

“But what for?” The writer-editor was confused. “After your death you have the chance to be anthologized.”

“No, I don’t.”

“But your fiction will be archived.”

“No, it won’t.”

“But your work exists, and therefore it is.”

“No, it isn’t.”

The writer-editor was astonished. “Don’t let the Literary Police find out.”

“I could give a damn about Grammar Nazis!” Jermaine shouted.

The whole bar turned around; one Grandmaster spit up his drink.

“Sorry.” Jermaine began again. “I need to walk away from these writing organizations a new man.  I need to turn my back on the politics and step down from these panels once and for all.”

“But how?”

“Through fiction, how else?” He snapped his fingers as if it were that easy. “Fiction got me into this mess, and it’ll get me out.”

“You must be some storyteller then.  You know what’ll happen afterwards, don’t you?”

“Yes, I am fully aware of the consequences.”

The writer-editor shook his head worriedly. “Is this so-called salvation— Let me rephrase that, is this permanent anonymity really worth that much to you?”

“Where sanity is concerned, yes.  It could also mean new growth!”

“But you yourself even said that if you didn’t write the thing on top of the tree would come plunging down!”

“And the moment I leave this convention, my good friend, I snap my fingers and reverse the polarity of my thoughts.  Hopefully, it changes for the better.  If it doesn’t, at least I tried.”

The writer-editor felt overly sentimental.  He shook Jermaine’s hand and patted him on the back. “I wish you good luck in your new life.  I only wish I had the balls to join you.  But I’ve been in this field for over two decades.  I don’t have anything else.  I just have my words.  Flinging myself into obscurity for some kind of deliverance would be too much of a risk on my well being.” He smiled. “I guess I lack the courage of a hack.  At least let me buy you one for the road.”

Jermaine accepted.

When he finished the drink, the author said his goodbyes and headed for the hotel’s automatic sliding doors.  He closed his eyes and inhaled a deep breath.  He looked behind him very briefly… at the boys and girls wielding lightsabers and sonic screwdrivers… at the jolly attendees dressed in Vulcan ears and Viking’s armor… at the Grandmasters and Industry heads immersed in their readings.

Outside he whistled for a cab.  A taxi pulled up directly in front of the building.  He hopped inside.  The cabbie grinned at Jermaine’s reflection in the mirror. “You look like a Jedi Knight in that blanket.  A regular Obi Wan Kenobi.”

“I’ll give you an extra five bucks not to make any comments.”

The cabbie reset the meter. “So where to, old man?”

“Someplace far away.”

The taxi didn’t move. “Where exactly? You’re the author of this tale.”

Jermaine stared out the passenger side window and into the hotel lobby.  All the big writers danced outside the convention hall: wonder and uncertainty, progress and decline.  The bewitcheries of status, ambition, success and poverty rose from their voices.  The goods and evils of the human competition, the demonology of lives spent, misspent, the mystique of literature’s disorder and hope.  Fear of the new, dread of the old.  They were like witches celebrating a Sabbath of chopped-up modern catechisms.

Finally the hack turned around.  He was beaming, his big handsome smile, the one that had won the hearts of amateurs everywhere. “A place called obscurity.  Now step on it.”

The End