Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recent Short Story Publications

I’ve had some recent short story publications over the past few months that I’m particularly excited about!

*****


The first is: Dreams of a Little Suicide, which I consider to be one of my best pieces of writing yet. This tells the story (urban legend... truth... ?!) of the munchkin that hung himself on-screen during the Wizard of Oz.

Here’s the movie clip showing the tragedy:
Hanging Munchkin (YouTube)
 
And the story is for sale in the anthology book, Hell Comes To Hollywood II: Twenty-Two More Tales of Tinseltown Terror (Volume 2) (October 1, 2014). Hell Comes To Hollywood II (Amazon)

*****

My next story, An Unpleasant Truth About Death, is my first contribution to a ‘shared world anthology,’ meaning each of the authors writes a story that interrelates into one story line. In this case, it’s a collection of tales about teenagers playing Truth or Dare on Halloween. Great fun to write!

This story is for sale in the anthology book, Truth or Dare? (October 31, 2014).
Truth or dare? A Halloween anthology (Perpetual Publishing)

*****

My southern humor/ Devil tale, Midnight and Jefe Bowman, was purchased and published online at Bad Dream Entertainment (September 21, 2014) here: Midnight and Jefe Bowman (Bad Dream)

I also read a seven minute excerpt of it at the CIA bar (California Institute of Abnormal Arts) in North Hollywood, part of the "Shades and Shadows" reading series. That reading is available here:
Reading Midnight and Jefe Bowman (YouTube)

*****
 
 My sci-fi/ western tale, Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos, was purchased and published online at Buzzy Magazine (July 3, 2014). This is a fast-paced tribute to western weird tales and available here: Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos (BuzzyMag)
*****

Lastly, my sci-fi story about Planck time and Zeno’s paradox, Living in the Moment, was published online at Bewildering Stories on April 21, 2014 here: Living in the Moment (Bewildering Stories)

 
*****
Including reprints, I’m up to about 15 stories published so far during this year. Not bad, considering I work full time (and more than one job, sometimes), plus continuing college courses, volunteering for various groups, and raising two small children!
And, as always, I’m also awaiting word of acceptance or rejection on many other stories that are under consideration with publishers and further awaiting publishing dates for purchased stories that hover in some nebulous back-office limbo.


Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

_________________________________

E
ric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s published the anthologies, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death…, the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2016). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.
 

Friday, September 26, 2014

An Afternoon of Horror II at the Pasadena Central Library

Are you in southern California on October 4? If so, come visit: An Afternoon of Horror II at the Pasadena Central Library!

On Saturday, October 4, 2014, from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m., horror writers from all over Southern California will converge on the Pasadena Central Library for an afternoon of panels and book signings.

Co-presented by the library and the Southern California chapter of the Horror Writers Association, the event will begin at 1 p.m. with three panel discussions: “
Introduction to Horror Books, Including Recommended Reading”; “Comics and Graphic Novels in Horror”; and “Adaptations From Books to Film”. At 3 p.m., authors will sell and sign their books. Participating authors include:

Anthony Ray Bench (Stronger )
Hal Bodner (The Trouble With Hairy)
Steven W. Booth (The Hungry 1-6)
Robert Payne Cabeen (Fearworms)
Tim Chizmar  (Naked Alien Massacre)
Tananarive Due (The Living Blood)
Benjamin K. Ethridge (Bottled Abyss)
Michael Paul Gonzalez (Angel Falls)
Eric J. Guignard (After Death...)
Brad C. Hodson (Darling)
Janet Joyce Holden (Carousel)
Nancy Holder (the Wicked Saga)
Kate Jonez (Ceremony of Flies)
Kate Maruyama (Harrowgate)
Eric Miller (Hell Comes to Hollywood)
Roh Morgon (Watcher)
Lisa Morton (Netherworld)
John Palisano (Nerves)
Ian Welke (The Whisperer in Dissonance)
Terry M. West (A Psycho's Medley)
David Winnick (Sulfur)

The event is free and open to the public.

The Pasadena Central Library is located at 285 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91101. For more information on the library (including directions and maps), please visit http://cityofpasadena.net/library/central_library.aspx.

For more information on the Horror Writers Association, please visit http://www.horror.org. For further information on the event, please contact Eric J. Guignard at eric.guignard@gmail.com.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Reviews (June, 2014)

Book Reviews! Each of the following books may be purchased through any large book store or online through www.amazon.com.

***

REVIEWED: The Abominable
WRITTEN BY: Dan Simmons
PUBLISHED: October, 2013

I find that one of the greatest indications of talent in authors is the ability to write in entirely different styles and voices, and this Dan Simmons possesses in excess. He has the ability to weave tight narrative, to fill dialogue with humor and insight and fear, has the ability to create worlds set in the future, present, or past. Quite simply, he outputs vast diversity amongst his many stories. The downside of this talent is that the reader doesn’t know what to expect when beginning one of his new works. Perhaps my mind just had expectations of heart-pounding action or of supernatural mayhem, but reading ‘The Abominable’ was somewhat boring.

I love historic genre fiction, and I think Simmons is one of the absolute best in this field. His prose is beautiful and carefully crafted to convey the spirit of the era he’s writing in. Simmons knows every detail of every manufacturer, every geographic element, every slang in vernacular that his characters encounter. But in this latest book, he simply takes it too far. Tens of pages go into the detailed explanation of climbing shoes and chapters of description explain the ins-and-outs of scaling every type of ice, differences in toeholds, variations of granite, distribution practices of pack suppliers, etc.

The author has done his research and he seems to want to cram every footnote of those studies upon you. The story itself is a well-crafted drama, written in memoir fashion, but Simmons could have cut out half of it and the novel would have succeeded twice as well. Overall, it’s a rich and magnificent book, but entirely too slow-moving for my subjective taste.

Four out of Five stars

***

REVIEWED: Clean Freak
WRITTEN BY: Sean M. Davis
PUBLISHED: August, 2013

‘Clean Freak’ is the first novel written by author Sean M. Davis, and it’s certainly a freshman triumph. The main character, Clarence, suffers from OCD germ avoidance. Naturally his occupation is as a janitor, and he takes his job seriously. At first, the in-depth description of Clarence cleaning door handles and desk surfaces seemed to be a bit over-indulgent, but that sense quickly gave way to a dark humor mirroring the character’s actions and thoughts, which led to more than one out-loud chuckle; in the most unseemly moment of suspense or danger or development, Clarence’s thoughts invariably turn to fears of some strange germ or illness developing from said event. The protagonist’s back story slowly comes through, so his actions and motivations begin to make more sense. I never quite understood the reason why his fellow janitors obsess in their own way to include Clarence in their games, nor did I relate entirely to the boss who seemed to waffle one way then the other, making contradictory decisions. But all that didn’t matter so much, as the grabber of the story is the dream-like little girl, Lucy, whom he befriends when her voice begins to speak to him from the bathtub drain. Who she is and what she represents offer Clarence’s most meaningful obsession.

Four and a half out of Five stars

***

REVIEWED: Annihilation (Book One of the Southern Reach trilogy)
WRITTEN BY: Jeff VanderMeer
PUBLISHED: February, 2014

Ugh, so many trilogies these days! You get hooked into a story and have to wait several months to find out what happens next. Such is the case with ‘Annihilation’ which speaks credit to author, Jeff VanderMeer; I want more of this book, and I want it now. It’s a wonderful, strange tale of exploration by four women – each with their own specialty – placed in a coastal point of the country which is mysteriously manifesting unexplainable occurrences. The style of writing and mood it sets is part ‘X-Files’ and part ‘Lost’ in that there are so many layers of peculiar doings, of conspiracy, of monsters and violence, and confusion, that the reader will either dismiss it all as arbitrary or find themselves drawn inexorably into its mysteries. I happen to be in the latter camp, though find no fault with those of the former; this book is truly not for everybody.

I happen to love the unknown and I love to explore and I love mysteries, and ‘Annihilation’ is all these things and more. I questioned some of the characters’ actions as stray or not true to themselves, but in a story like this I soon found it easy to suspend my disbelief, as at later points the author adds touches of further information which then lends credibility to earlier actions. This is a psychological thriller as much as anything; characters’ thoughts have been implanted, hypnosis is abundant, and the protagonist is infected by a mind-altering organism, so truly, ‘anything goes,’ though VanderMeer is respectful of this self-granted license; it’s not a self-serving experiment, but rather a deep character study in grief and resolution.

Five out of Five stars


***

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I’m a Writer

For the first time, I finally told another living human that I’m a writer. To explain, I mean that I said those three words with full confidence and without any explanation about how I used to do ‘real’ business work and that I’m engaged in various other studies, projects, and endeavors. For the first time in my life, I said, “I’m a writer,” and I didn’t drop my eyes, or mumble about how I’m ‘aspiring,’ or quickly change the topic of conversation.

Imagine all the times in your life you said, “I love you” to someone, and though the intent was there, the expression was more perfunctory, more socially or familially-expected. But then remember the first time you voiced those words, and you meant it more than anything else, when the emotion poured from your heart in flushing sincerity...

My experience wasn’t quite on that level, but close enough that I still felt like soaring away on wings of beatitude.

The consequential moment occurred this past Saturday, June 7, 2014. I was part of an ecological survey on bats, travelling between Palm Springs and the Salton Sea. It was early night, and I walked with a small group of strangers through a palm oasis in the desert, reading echo meters. One of the other men, as natural small talk develops, asked what I did for a living.

I said, “I’m a writer.”

His response was, “Wow, that’s really cool.”

And, yes, cool it was indeed. It was an occasion of self-validation, a flash of empowerment. I said those words and didn’t feel like a duplicitous charlatan, or that a bolt of lightning would strike for my false tongue. I’ve only been writing since about February, 2011 (three years, four months, but who’s counting?) and, though I’ve wanted it, could never honestly make that assertion with any degree of conviction. But the circumstance occasioned itself and I met it with courage and pluck, and now feel I have certain expectations to fulfill, less I’ll be discovered to be that fibber after all.

And, to qualify my trinal-worded declaration, I don’t make a living off fiction, but rather a combination of contract work in technical writing, copy writing, and now teaching writing (though each year I’ve made ever-increasing amounts of money off creative works... not that any of those are worth enough to buy a fancy coat, though the checks are on the upswing – but I digress). Some people may write a single story and declare to the world that they’re a writer, but I’ve not felt truth in that in my own experience. It’s a personal moment each person must discover, in any pursuit, and now I’ve had mine. Being a contract writer, I don’t know where my next ‘gig’ will come from, or that I’ll be able to survive lulls in employment. But I’ve been able to muddle along these past few years and I now have work set through next spring, so I finally found it time to proclaim to another those sweet three words:

I’m a writer.



*****

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

_________________________________

E
ric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s published the anthologies, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death…, the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2016). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Writing Industry Award Nominations For . . . Me!


 
 
There’s not much that speaks to the validation of a young writer doing something right as it is in receiving recognition from peers and affiliations that they admire.

In the past couple months, I’ve received TWO Industry award nominations I’m insanely proud of! Each nomination is from a different group and for a different work of mine.

On February 23, I was voted to the final ballot of the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards® in the category of “Superior Achievement in an Anthology” for my book, AFTER DEATH...

http://horror.org/the-2013-bram-stoker-awards-final-ballot/

The Bram Stoker Awards have been presented by the Horror Writers Association annually since 1987 and winners are selected by Active members. This is my SECOND year in a row, receiving a nomination in this category, and I consider it a great honor. The Horror Writers Association promotes and protects the careers of professional writers of horror and dark fantasy.


*****

And on April 6, I was voted to the final ballot of the 2014 International Thriller Awards in the category of “Best Short Story” for my novella, BAGGAGE OF ETERNAL NIGHT!

http://thrillerwriters.org/2013-thriller-awards-nominees/

The International Thriller Awards are presented by ITW (International Thriller Writers) an organization of 2,100 members, and winners are selected by a panel of board members and professionals. I only recently joined this group and was completely stunned to learn that my work had been selected as one of the top five nominations from over two hundred submitted entries including luminaries such as Dean Koontz, R.L. Stine, John Grisham, and Elmore Leonard. I don’t know what the criteria was that elevated me, and I’m certainly not a better writer than any of those Bestsellers, but I certainly feel blessed at receiving such a recognition!
 
Somebody's sure pulled some supernatural strings for me!
 
Midnight cheers,
 
Eric J. Guignard


Monday, April 7, 2014

GUEST BLOG: Between the Interstice — On Lovecraft and Weird Fiction by Mike Robinson


"Back then, with the visions, most of the time I was convinced I'd lost it. There were other times, though, where I thought I was mainlining the secret truth to the universe."

------------ Rust Cohle, True Detective

Behind the wide facade of Speculative Fiction twist the hedge-mazes of fantasy, brood the catacombs of horror and gaze the far-seeing floors of science fiction. Among them, between them, are the closets and crawlspaces of the niche, one of which -- a relatively bigger one -- is the place of Weird Fiction, a dark storage of many souvenirs from fantasy, horror and science fiction, though dusted with its own special charms.

The former subtitle for my new book, Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction was actually, A Collection of Speculative Fiction. As one prone to appreciate sprawling ambiguity, to resist specific categorization, it’s a little ironic that I wanted to specify further. But there was a reason for that, besides the stodginess of “speculative”, which has none of the zany, fluid charisma of “weird”.
 
While using “weird” may sound like a proud judgment, a literary outcast chest-thumping his identity as such, it’s more a direct homage to the tradition of Ambrose Bierce, Robert Chambers, H.P. Lovecraft and many others. Going further, it’s an accurate classification given my vision of Weird Fiction, a subgenre that, perhaps more consciously than other fields of speculative fiction, stirs together elements of the metaphysical, cosmological and horrific to grimly honor the Big Questions, remind us of our insurmountable ignorance, to pin down our squirming selves into our rightful position in the child’s seat, to whisper, maybe in some alien, mud-packed voice, that, hey, the world slippery and you won’t ever, ever catch it. The world, in short, is weird.

And past all the horror, the strangeness, that to me is a nourishing thought. Let me explain.

The moment I cemented my decision to not pursue an M.F.A (or any academic training) in writing is vivid. While enrolled at Otis College of Art & Design, I found in my mailbox a little perfect-bound literary booklet featuring work by the graduate students in fiction. I flipped it open to a random story. After wading cautiously into the second paragraph of a painful scrutiny of eyebrow-plucking, I was done. Other entries weren’t much better. Too many of them seemed concerned with stereotypical, high-literary minutia, unfortunately the focus and baffling preference of innumerable professors, awards, journals, and workshops (cough-Iowa-cough).
My first sale, the story
The Hand of Spudd
in Storyteller Magazine

Personally, I have little interest in quaint journalistic accounts of Malaysian transvestite violinists at the turn of the century (yes, I made that up), or the endless slew of aptly-termed “McFiction” featuring some cocky narrator coming of age amongst his or her overfed, dysfunctional family. No, I prefer going head-on at the Big Questions, going at them, as George Carlin might say, with no less than a sledgehammer. Give me ballsy confrontations with Life, Death, the Cosmos, with Existence, with God.

In their noble attempts at social redemption and inclusion, many contemporary teachers of literature treat writings in the framework of their political significance. To me, though, such attempts seem nothing more than new forms of division. It is looking at the grains and forgetting the shore. Does the world really need a Marxist reading of Huckleberry Finn, complete with ten-dollar jargon? Academics are on the lookout for the “next best thing”, the new trend in analysis, the new prism through which to see literary works of yesterday and today. I say: what about our shared heritage? Our shared -- and uncertain -- future? Not as any one ethnicity, gender, party, or faction, but as an entire civilization. A species. A collective piece of this vast Universe.

Of course, much of this material is studied, and much of it is exhaustively considered and written about. Enter Weird Fiction!

As any fellow devotee will know, H.P. Lovecraft -- arguably the most esteemed and influential practitioner of the genre -- cleaned out the catacombs with his pen, defying tropes of ghosts and vampires and expanding imaginations with interconnected tales of ancient civilizations antedating our own, of towering alien-gods, of unseen dimensions and humanity’s sanity-shattering smallness in an inexplicable cosmos. All this made more impressive by the fact that he wrote in the 1920s, when so much of that stuff was barely on anyone’s speculative radar, including scientists’. His unknowns are truly Unknown, and will forever elude explanation.

Certainly Lovecraft’s work has failings, failings probably more surface-level than those of other lauded authors. He was well aware of his own wooden dialogue (hence, quotation marks are scarce in his pages) and his prose sometimes gushes into the purple. Nevertheless, his voice, with its richly archaic, darkly celebratory cadence, stands alone, and will survive as long as we’re unsure what lurks “out there”.

Me suited up, scoping “out there”
Sadly, Lovecraft, and especially his “Cthulhu” mythos, have become somewhat franchised, relegated to corners of the market generally aimed at Dungeons and Dragons fans, horror enthusiasts, and nihilistic young adults sporting black fingernails and lipstick. It is a wide “cult following”, but nonetheless a cult following. Although some scholars have acknowledged his importance, many see him as a troublesome bridge from Poe to Stephen King. It is this identity that has, I’m sure, dissuaded many from giving him a serious go. “Lovecraft? Oh, no, I don’t like that horror stuff.”

But back up. Here we come back to the question of Weird Fiction itself, because I don’t necessarily consider the canon, or Lovecraft’s work, “horror”. Certainly there are horrific elements in his work, and his career does include several standard supernatural yarns. But in his treatment of cosmic mysteries, and the shadowed realms of prehistory, his is more a prying curious eye, forcing us to consider those Big Questions, to ponder notions of, and issues with, the likes of religion, biology, cosmology, archaeology, and psychology. He sets you on the outside looking in, a contrast to being in and looking further in to the point of navel-gazing. This exercise of outside-looking-in, one I believe most writers of fiction should undertake, helps in a kind of rounding out of thought.

No matter the genre in which one writes, I believe the best, most poignant stories have at least an undercurrent of this “larger awareness”, a perception conveying authority and wisdom. So many stories feel constricted by their own world, characters or concerns. Yet to read Lovecraft is to confront directly that raw Unknown that surrounds us, that is us. To get a healthy dose of perspective: a shambling, roaring, behemoth upswell of perspective.

I mentioned earlier that I think such a perspective can be ultimately nourishing. In an era of economic, cultural and political tumult, when millions of Davids the world over shout in fiery voice against the few far-reaching, corrupt Goliaths, there is morbid comfort in knowing that, despite whatever the megalomaniacal egos of sadistic leaders, immoral bankers, or bribe-pocketing politicians might make of themselves, there are impenetrable forces beyond all of them that will cast mocking eyes towards their suited-up, gold-rimmed delusions, if they even care to acknowledge them. Lovecraft, and the general tradition of Weird Fiction, reminds us just how little power the powerful actually wield. After all, Goliath was, what, ten feet tall? When the mountain-sized Cthulhu rises once more, those people will be nothing but scrambling ants -- along with the rest of us.

***
 
Find and follow Mike Robinson at: 

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Mike-Robinson/e/B009RDLX7K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1


Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/MikeRobinsonAuthor?ref=hl