Archive for the Indie stuffs Category

Back From The Dead

Posted in Indie stuffs on June 3, 2014 by normandixon

Over a year since my last post. Time flies when one is over occupied with the business of art, work, and being a dad. I’ve been cranking away words and art but I have not been in touch with my digital self much. Now that’s about to change. The Creepers book one will be officially released from Permuted Press in late July. I will update with a specific date as soon as we have a solid one. I do not have a timeline for books two and three yet. However, I can tell you the cover art and the books themselves are complete and in very capable hands. I can’t wait to see what the non-indie cover spreads look like. I can paint a great picture but fonts and print layout are not my thing.

If I’ve learned anything over the last year it’s confidence in myself and in my craft. For far too long I’ve been reluctant to share and never wanted to put myself out there. Those days are gone and good riddance. I am going to share with you all a short story I wrote for Lovecraft anthology. The story did not get chosen and at the time I was crushed. I thought in a moment of brilliance, I cranked this thing out one night and submitted it the next morning, that I had spun a really good yarn. I didn’t dwell on it for too long because as a freelancer/indie author rejection is part of the game. You let it sting long enough to motivate you to move on. I went back to it when I started to think about what I was going to put up for my return blog.

Turns out I wrote a really good fucking story. And it got me thinking. I’ve read plenty of works from indie authors and a fair amount are really well done. If I can impart any kind of wisdom from my experiences its that your story doesn’t suck the person reading it has terrible taste. After all people like Twilight and there are a lot of them, a fuckton if you will. At the same time a percentage will truly suck or be such terrible rehash the agent/publisher/editor will simply move on. Take that with a grain of salt, but keep the unstoppable mindset because if you don’t, and you let the doubt in you will sink into a period of locking your stuff away. This is a mistake and you should avoid it at all costs.

I think I’ll leave off here for now, but expect me again. I’m going to bury my head in a children’s book I’ve been working on for my daughter. I have to teach myself how to truly paint in Photoshop. These Creepers covers were just the tip of the iceberg. Below is my rejected story I AM Nothing raw and edited to best of my ability. Hit me up on    https://www.facebook.com/NormanDixonJr or on Twitter @normandixonjr

I AM Nothing

By: Norman Dixon Jr.

 

“For the man who has everything, has seen everything, do you consider yourself lucky?”

I ease the ship out of fold space before answering. To be honest I haven’t been paying much attention to Landon. I’ve been auto-piloting my responses based solely on what’s expected of me. The star of this solar system smears across the monitors, a mix of purple and several hundred other spectrums of light my human eyes cannot see.

“No, I crawled out of the same cesspool as a lot of other people. I simply chose not to accept the life laid out for me. There were opportunities to be had and . . . well, Landon, I had them.”

I drop the computer assisted controls and ease the ship towards Su. How magnificent, in all her brilliant blue-gray beauty, a clouded diamond shimmering in the darkness of space. She orbits a single star very reminiscent of Earth’s, but I’m the only one who knows of her existence. My best kept secret.

“People call you the pioneer of the stars. Others call you God. What do you call yourself?”

The ship bucks a bit as I begin descending through the clouds, but it doesn’t last long. I drop the shields and really get a look at her. An endless ocean pans out before me, so bright, I squint at the reflected light. I should be driven to tears by her majesty. I am not. I’ve seen what became of the Pillars of Creation. A small continent that reminded me of Orwell’s pink coral floats off the starboard side. I dip the nose towards it, remembering the men that died there. The men that died with my secret on their horrified lips. The men that were swept beneath the waves. And then I see it: what from satellite photos looks to be nothing more than terribly deep ocean, a blackness in all that blue.

“You’ve slept long and hard on these questions, Landon . . . aiming for the lead I see. Well, I’ve been through interviews a million times in my multi-millennial life. I’ve been called a lot of things and I’ve gone by many titles, but if I had to pick one word out of so many possible choices . . . I’d have to go with bored.”

“Bored?”

He’s a persistent shit, but I leave him hanging as I watch it move beneath the waves. I felt its presence the moment I dropped out of fold space. It’s curious. It rotates slowly. From this height it appears as nothing more than an enormous five-pointed star—the massive silhouette of a starfish the size of Africa on old Earth. “Yes, bored. Would you prefer I said asshole, or something as equally lewd?”

He completely brushes me off.

“What do you cherish the most?”

We conquered the stars. We became what we were always meant to be . . . Gods. Masters of everything we encountered. We ended disease. We ended Time’s erosion on the body. Gods in the truest sense of the word. And I thought this with such certainty until we found the thing living beneath Su’s ocean. Its older than the Earth. Its older than any point in the known universe I’ve been too. Su was supposed to be the epitome of old Earth beach vacations. A spot untouched by pollution. A place where the grandeur of an ocean environment could be appreciated. Everything from the initial probe painted a perfect picture.

At the time, only myself, and the six man crew ready to touchdown on her surface, knew about Su’s existence.

“Life,” I blatantly lie.

Their journey went much like my current one, smooth and utterly perfect. But once they landed, that changed. I bring up that ancient feed and watch those six eager faces safe behind their helmets. They were sane at that point, or appeared so to the untrained eye, but I’ve watched this play out too many times to count. I can see the subtle changes. The squinting, the fidgeting;it is more than nerves. I can hear the precursor of the madness to come in their voices, as they call out orders and procedures. The pink sands greet them with a light hiss against the hull. I do not get the same reception. The ship picks up trace amounts of radiation from the coral colored glass.

“So what’s left to do for the man that has done everything?”

“That’s simple, Landon.” And now to the moment I’ve been waiting for, the hook if you will. “All that’s left to do is die.” I cut the relay and leave Landon to ponder that back on Earth. The news feeds will be crawling with speculation. My own people will be looking for me, but they won’t find me. No one will find me. All that will remain is the video signal that will leave the moment its recorded. But Su is on the edge of oblivion and the signal will take a long time to get home.

I don’t bother with any protective equipment. My body augmentations will do their job on the radiation. I’ve waited a long time for this moment. I start transmitting the record of my death. I can feel it out there under the water, waiting, wondering just what I’m about. I hear the screams and explosions playing out on the feed behind me. I don’t look back.

My boots clink on the glass. Ahead on the horizon, I see the remnants of ancient castles. High twisting spires, strange carvings, angled windows, all encased beneath the glass, courtesy of the most powerful weapon in the known universe. A weapon that did not kill what lives out there. My eyes are drawn to the geometric patterns under my feet. I have not the time to begin to unlock them. I simply do not care. All I want to do is experience that which has eluded me . . . death.

My parting gift to the world: the death of the man that could not die. The death of a lie. The reality of our true place in the universe.

The readout on my handheld is giving a carbon dating number that doesn’t make sense. I shut it off. I can feel that amount of time and it scares me. I feel it as if it were an open tomb at my feet, the darkness of which stretches on endlessly.I begin to feel very cold. My fingers grow numb. Somewhere inside, faced with this unfathomable amount of time, I begin to scream. Much like they screamed as the waves started to rise, a horrific cord on the strings of existence.

I look out to the ocean. The waves roll towards me, tiny at first, then building, and building. Great spouts of water jettison into the sky, casting multi-hued rainbows across the horizon. It should be perceived as beautiful, but I’ve pissed myself in fright. The beast of eons. The black heart of creation begins to rise from below. This is the experience I’ve so craved. I’ve never felt so alive. So vulnerable. So not in control of my own life. It will end here. And in the face of all that terror, I smile.

At first I see only its sheer mass. Water cascades off its gigantic body in a thousand wayward waterfalls. The marrow of my bones vibrates from the sound of it. My eyes blur as the vitriol buzzes. The experience is enormously painful and I make that loud and clear for the viewing audience, but I never take my gaze off of it. A mountain rising from the sea doesn’t even being to describe its height. The thing continues to rise into the clouds. It passes before the sun an unthinkable enormity, dwarfing any known ranges. Yet, I know that somewhere beneath the turbulent water, an even greater mass awaits. This is but the head, a point of the star.

As my eyes adjust,the waves start to reach me, lapping at first then smashing into me. I fall back and look away. I begin to weep. Blood begins to run from my nose. I force myself to face this thing that should not be. I remember the men that tried to escape the blast. They made it to the shielded safety of their craft, and while it protected them from the radiation, it did not protect them from the obliteration of their minds. Their maddened cackles come back to me now. After all this time I finally understand. I finally understand what that darkness is when looking out into the night’s sky, when looking into the heart of space, it’s all there. And it shatters me.

It could snuff me out with a thought. It makes sure I know this, but it does not. It takes me to the brink of existence, and then it holds me enthralled. I start to laugh. I cry. I love. It plays all of my emotions with cruel fingers, a symphony of domination. It reminds me of my place in the universe. It is not a nice place. It is not a respected place. We know nothing.

In all of its darkness,things begin to take shape. The bow of an ancient ship pokes from its body. Pieces of Su’s architectural past, and pieces of our own. I see them all. Halls leading nowhere, fossils of things yet unimagined, and there are faces, screaming faces the size of interstellar carriers trapped there, still living, crying out, a loud series of moans like foghorns on a darkened harbor. It wants me to hear them. I feel its thoughts impeding my own. It wants me to think only what it wants me to think, ultimate and brutal submission, admission that I am but nothing in its thoughts. I am nothing…

Tentacles the length of continental seaboards writhe towards me. They are lined with mouths that snap and bite, razor-like teeth clacking inches from my face. The stench brings my insides up. Bile burns my mouth but I don’t notice. All I can feel is what it wants me to feel. I am nothing…

The tentacles draw me up from the glass. It gives me the chance to run. It lets me know this. My flight response is so strong but the realization of futility is stronger. I feel it laugh as it lets the thought sink into my mind. It raises me to impossible heights, to its source, so high into the thin air that crystals of ice begin to form on my wet body. It wants me to see something. To know something.

There are no eyes upon what I am allowed to perceive as the head. It does not need them. It is the very light itself. It is the darkness. The tentacle brings me within a few centimeters of six bulbous protrusions clustered in a circle. They are murky, filled with dirty sea water. I hear a frightening rumble, the sound of civilizations collapsing. The water begins to drain from the bulbs.

“No!” I scream,in complete control of my faculties again. They are not bulbs. They are helmets and the faces of six men I thought dead stare at me. Invertebrates yet to be catalogued scuttle from their screaming mouths. The water has warped their skin. Their eyes milky and searching, blinded by the years beneath the ocean. They are not dead. It lets this realization sink into me. It lets me know I will not have what I desire. It lets me perceive my own infinite doom.

I try to run but my foot won’t move. A slick gelatin-like substance holds me fast and before my very eyes,it begins to grow around my calves, moving up my thighs with great haste. I feel the sickly sensation wrap around my fingers. I feel it enter my screaming mouth, my nose. I feel it envelope me, a pervasive cold that shakes my beating heart. I am returned to the source.

The tentacles slip away. The ocean shimmers miles below and I am being pulled slowly towards it. It bends away from the rolling blue waves. It faces the blazing sun, faces the light, and it begins to sink painfully slow. I feel the water slip around me, over me. It is so cold, but I can still see that light. The endless blue gives way to dark greens and the sun of Su grows ever distant. The murk becomes an almost complete darkness. All that remains of the precious light is but a pinprick, and soon that too, is gone. I feel the crunch of the optics from the pressure. I should be dead at his depth.

But there is no beginning and no end. I understand that now. Time is endless and I am not dead. It lets me know this. It lets me understand that I am nothing.

 

 

 

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Writer’s Worst Fear

Posted in Indie stuffs on January 25, 2013 by normandixon

I don’t know about you, but the biggest thing I fear as a writer is the rejection letter. You’ve spent countless hours, months, or even years, chugging along, burning the proverbial midnight oil shaping a world. You’ve, hopefully, edited the hell out of the story, cut where necessary and polished it up and removed a lot of those twenty cent words, replacing them with their much more practical nickel counterparts. All that sweat and your baby is ready to meet the world. You go through the arduous task of typing pitches and, those dreaded query letters, and now our work is on its way. Now the waiting begins.

One day three or four weeks in the future, and only if our agent and publisher isn’t some hack douche, you get a response. Nine times out of ten you get a generic copy/pasted response, and every once and awhile an agent or editor will take pity and leave you some kind words. Every one of them are like a fucking dagger to the heart. I should be a pin cushion by now. Most people have given up by now. There are all kinds of stories about hundreds of rejection letters before getting an acceptance letter, but those stories don’t really mean anything, or help in grand scheme of things. All of your efforts were tossed aside, and in most cases your work wasn’t even read just your letter. It sucks but it is the nature of the business you’re trying to get into.

It’s all about validation. We all want our work to matter. We want someone to say hey, that book kicked ass. We want people to get it. Every artist craves this, and if they tell you they don’t care what people think, they just do art for themselves, well, they’re full of shit. We crave that validation almost as much as being able to make a living doing what we love.

For the longest time, every letter or email I received was like dying inside. I’d feel utterly depressed for days. I’d feel physical pain and the lowest kind of defeat. Sometimes it would take weeks to rebound. The last rejection I got was just a few days ago. But now there is a glaring difference. I’m published, self published, indie author extraordinaire. Sure it stung like a motherfucker, they still do but now I have perspective. Back to validation central.

I put The Creepers out there after eating a ridiculous amount of rejections, too many to count. Why? They all told me it wasn’t right, ‘it’s not for me’ and so on, but I knew I had a story, a good one at that. This is different than anything I’d written previous and it is better by leaps and bounds. So out into the ether it went and what a surprise. I started seeing people pay for my work and seek me out to tell me they enjoyed it. I’ve received fan art. People are already asking about a sequel. Almost three thousand people own my book.

Validation.

Royalty checks started rolling in today.

Double fucking validation.

And I did it all myself. It’s been a long painful, emotional journey, but I wouldn’t change it, though, I will continue to submit future stories to publishers. It’s that whole writer’s ego thing, a feather in the cap if you will. I’m not going to be the guy that doles out copious amounts of hope. That’s just not how things work, but I will say this. Let those rejections sting for a moment and then get rid of them and take your rage out on the keyboard. Writers . . . Keep writing!

Norm

Change of Plans

Posted in Indie stuffs on January 16, 2013 by normandixon

Can’t even believe I’m doing this–was going to put ‘consider doing this’ in there–but I’ve already committed, so there’s no going back now. My Amazon bio mentions a Sci-Fi romance, later changed to Sci-Fi detective story, due out in the spring of this year. I’ve mentioned the Sage and Jorah series before, and how it has evolved over time. It was the story where I found my voice, it was the first story I really started submitting and eating rejection letters on. It’s a series I’ve finished two 80k word novels in and plotted the third, as well as write a great chunk of the beginning of that third book.

It’s not ready.

Sometimes as a writer you have to let things go. You have to reevaluate them to truly understand what you have. Such is the case with the Sage and Jorah series. I’m not discounting the first two books, those events happened and they affected Sage and Jorah and will continue to be a factor throughout the series. The writing is just not me. If a fan of The Creepers were to pick up the series they’d probably be disappointed. Not with the story but with the style.

So now I’m attempting something that should get me committed. I’m writing two novels, in two different genres, from two different perspectives. The Creepers sequel is really turning into something big, a juggernaut of awesome and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Sage and Jorah are alive and well and this new direction is going to fucking blow the doors off multiple genres. There are some intense ideas in this noggin and I’m just going to put them to paper and screen. No more holding back. I finally know who Sage is. He’s me. My thoughts, my fantasies, my perspective, and every little detail encased within this far-ranging mind.

I can’t wait to share this bold new world with you all. But ask yourselves this…can you handle two genre-bending works at the end of this year? I’m aiming to get both of these out by then. It’s a big fucking challenge but its doable if the muse cooperates. It’s going to kill my reading time, but sacrifices must be made.

Norm

Indie Author or Master Spam Artist?

Posted in Indie stuffs on December 21, 2012 by normandixon

So I’m almost two months into this indie author thing, and all the self marketing that comes with it. It has been an absolute blast for the most part, though, I do get a bit obsessive when checking my numbers. I get asked a lot about how I’m going about marketing and the only real answer I have for that is, I’m doing what comes natural. I’m trying to build a fan base, as I’ve said before, but one thing I refuse to do is become a spam artist. I can’t even count the number of ‘authors’ that were quickly blocked after it became apparent they were nothing more than bots. So let me get this straight, you are adding other authors under the auspice that they are also readers and then spamming them your link 24/7? I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again, how are your sales really? Have any of you ever given so much as a single random thought? No, nothing but links.

The only thing worse is a terrible cover. I get putting your stuff out there, but how about a few times a day not every 5 minutes. I’m starting to sound like a broken record with that one, or is it skipping cd, bugged mp3… There are plenty of ways to go about self promotion. I’m doing everything myself and I imagine most of you are too. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what I’m doing but I do know what’s working. First and foremost write the thing, edit it, edit some more, let a few people read it, edit, have someone else edit it, look it over again, start the ePub process. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people slam most indie stuff for being sloppy. And it’s true for the most part. If you’re going to take the time to write a book, WRITE A BOOK! Don’t treat this as a get rich quick scheme. It doesn’t work like that, and those that have found success took time and the process took a lot of time. We’ve all heard the stories about author struggles from King to Rowling to McCarthy. If this were easy every body would be doing. Though it does feel like that most of the time.

But the real writers, those of us who can’t stop even if we never sell another book, who keep notepads on our night stands, who dream of other worlds even when it impedes our own reality, those of us who need one more word, one more sentence, one more page, are the ones that will make this movement work. Some of us just need guidance. Mine came from a rejection letter, where will yours come from?

I don’t even know where I’m going with this, but in a nutshell respect your audience. They are paying money for your thoughts, respect the hell out of that. Don’t treat them like dollar signs. I’m so thankful to everyone who has purchased the book so far, I’m so thankful for the reviews, the tweets, the emails, and likes. I try to keep up a constant dialogue with you all and it really pisses me off when I see ‘authors’ do just the opposite on twitter or in a few of the fb groups I visit. These horrible marketing strategies reek of writing for cash seminars. If you are really interested in writing and making a go of it, then write your ass off and keep doing it. Don’t take the advice of someone who has never written a thing before. It’s an art form, not a pyramid scheme.

Use twitter to find people who like the genre you’re writing in. Follow them, interact with them, and maybe they’ll buy your book. Spam them and it’s block time. Same applies to Facebook and any of the various social media sites. That’s my ‘strategy’ if you can call it that. I write for myself, and I write for my friends, know your audience and they’ll want to know you.