Workshop: Writing Horror — From Start to Finish

I’ll be leading a four week workshop at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, KY beginning Monday, October 6th, 5:30pm.

Join three-time Hugo Award-nominated editor and writer Jason Sizemore as he takes you through the process of writing a horror short story. You will study popular modern stories as a guideline to the the craft of writing shorter works. We will cover the mechanics of short fiction, and the elements of effective horror. Every student will create a new science fiction short story that will be polished so it is ready for submission to a publications [ALL LEVELS]

For more information about the Writing Horror workshop and to register click here!

Each class is on a Monday and starts at 5:30 and runs for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

I would estimate that 60% of the material from the SF/F version of the workshop will be covered in this one. I do think you’ll gain enough new knowledge to make this class worth your time even if you took the previous one.

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Context 27: Post Mortem

The weekend has passed and thus has my convention season. I love doing conventions, but they sure take a lot out of me. Attending Imaginarium and Context in back to back weekends was the first time I’ve ever pulled that stunt. Yesterday I hit a wall and did not feel that great. Today, I’m bouncing back.

Context is the convention I look forward to the most every year. A huge bus load of my good friends always attend. There is a sizable Apex fan base. And we generally have a good weekend at our vendor table. Fun. Friends. Cash. A winning trio if there ever was.

I meant to take more pictures, but again, I managed all of 3.

The highlight of the weekend was the Apex party held on Saturday night. I mixed up a 3 gallon jug of the ‘purple’ stuff and a 3 gallon jug of the ‘red’ stuff. They both were hits, if perhaps a bit strong. Geoffrey Girard did a knock up job of running the music and after all us book nerds had a few drinks, some dancing happened.

Elaine Blose models next to the purple jug and the red jug.

Elaine Blose models next to the purple jug and the red jug.

Another highlight was the Friday night flash fiction contest that I judged with Betsy Mitchell, Matt Betts, and Geoffrey Girard. Participants read their story to the crowd and then each judge gave a constructive criticism of the work. At the end of the night, we selected the winning story. This was a cool event and one I might try to put together locally ever month or so.

Lesley Conner and Awesome Dawn wait patiently for the party to begin.

Lesley Conner and Awesome Dawn wait patiently for the party to begin.

I had a hard time getting out of bed Sunday morning and like a chump I missed my 10am panel. Here’s a selfie I took prior to the Apex party. You can tell how pert and happy I am. I meant to do an ‘after the party’ selfie but forgot.

Pert and Happy

Pert and Happy

In the grand tradition of name dropping all the cool people you had fun with, I present you my roster of names: Elaine Blose, Lesley Conner, Awesome Dawn, Geoffrey Girard, Janet Harriett, Maurice Broaddus, Andrea Johnson, Elizabeth Campbell, Matt Betts, Jason Sandford, Brick & Lori Marlin, Monica Valentinelli, and that one guy who did that one thing.

Until next year, Context. Until next year.


Context 2014

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of conventions. The one that is consistently the best and most fun is Context.

Context is held in late September near or in Columbus, OH. It focuses heavily on the craft of writing with workshops and many panels on publishing/editing/writing. At the same time, it does a good job of catering to fandom and is a fun event for fans.

This weekend I’ll be heading to Context!

DETAILS
When: September 26-28
Where: Worthington, OH
Website: http://www.contextsf.org/

I’m on several panels, judging a flash fiction contest Friday night, and Apex will be co-hosting a big party Saturday night. Apex will also have a table in the vendor’s hall. I’ll have copies of Irredeemable available for purchase!

MY SCHEDULE
Flash Fiction Judging 9pm Friday
Small/Large Presses/DIY 10am Saturday (M)
Reading: 11am Saturday (I will probably read Caspar)
Signing: 1pm Saturday
Book Covers/Copy 7pm Saturday
Apex Party Saturday Night

Due to the…level of fun of the Apex Parties, we have a strict “No Tweets/No Photos” rule while you’re enjoying the festivities. :P

See you this weekend!


Imaginarium — Post Mortem

Last weekend I was a guest of Imaginarium, a new writers’ conference in Louisville, KY. To say I was pleased with how it turned out would be an understatement.

Full Disclosure: Imaginarium is the brainchild of Stephen Zimmer. Stephen Zimmer operates Seventh Star Press, the publisher of my collection Irredeemable.

I’ve been to several “first year” conventions over the years. All of them suffered birthing pains in one form or another: disorganization, poor venue choice, lack of interesting panels. Birthing pains are to be expected and I never hold them against a new convention. Imaginarium suffered from none of these problems. If you’re a genre writer or filmmaker, this is an ideal event for you. If you’re a fan of genre writing and films, then this is a great event for you.

Respect, yo

Respect, yo

The venue, while out in the middle of nowhere (nowhere to eat for miles except for the hotel restaurant), was the right size and had a great layout for a small literary convention. Most of the panels and workshops looked interesting. And the convention ran smoothly and was incredibly organized. The vendor hall had plenty of room for attendees to walk and browse.

The only thing Imaginarium lacked were attendees. Again, birthing pains. One hope I have of writing this post is that it encourages you to give Imaginarium a try next year. Stephen Zimmer and his team did a top notch job.

Author Jettie Necole and that one guy

Author Jettie Necole and that one guy

I did sell a whole bunch of copies of Irredeemable. Yay!

Despite the small attendance, outside of World Fantasy and World Con, this had to be one of the most successful professional networking conventions I’ve been to. I made a bunch of new friends, and I met at least a dozen people I knew only via Facebook or Twitter. I also discovered that playing Cards Against Humanity while *very* drunk is *very* fun.

Sadly, I failed to take many photos. In fact, I managed to take 3 pictures, all shared in this post. I’m doing Context this coming weekend (look for my schedule of events post tomorrow), and I promise to try and photo document the shenanigans better.

Stella Price, Todd Necole, Jettie Necole, and that one guy

Stella Price, Todd Necole, Jettie Necole, and that one guy


10 Question FAQ: Apex Magazine has a new chief

It is true. I have taken over as Apex Magazine editor-in-chief.

Here’s a brief FAQ about the self promotion:

1) Why the switch? Because I foresee life changes in my future and I felt that placing myself back in the role of EiC of the zine would help the odds that these life changes are successful.

2) But wasn’t Sigrid Ellis doing a great job? Absolutely! Sigrid is a fantastic person and a fantastic editor. I’m proud that I am able to say that she worked for me.

3) Okay. Then why the switch? See question 1.

4) Will Apex Magazine change dramatically? Nope. As publisher, my editorial directive to all the editors I’ve had work for me has remained the same over the years. Apex Magazine strives to publish boundary pushing, thought-provoking work with a goal of presenting a diverse set of authors (age, nationality, race, gender, sexuality) and voices.

Certainly, the stories will reflect my own editorial vision and will probably be noticeable to constant readers, but if you like what we published under Cat, Lynne, and Sigrid’s time as editor, you’ll like what we publish going forward.

5) What makes you think you can be EiC? Hey now, this ain’t my first rodeo! I edited Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest for 12 issues, edited the first 14 issues of Apex Magazine, and I’ve edited 6 anthologies.

6) Aren’t you a bit of a goofball to run such a serious zine? While I do like to maintain a lighthearted online presence, I take anything and everything to do with Apex Publications (the books and the zine) in a serious and professional manner.

7) How do you have time for this? I don’t.

8) I’m intrigued and want to work for the zine. How do I become a submissions editor? You can email me at jason@apex-magazine.com. We currently have a need for a couple more submissions editors.

9) Sigrid selected beautiful art for every issue. You’re red/green color blind, how will you manage? Let’s just say there might be an occasional odd choice…

10) What are some of your goals as editor-in-chief? Increase our subscriber base and circulation. To raise our author per word pay rate. To maintain the quality of fiction the zine is known for publishing.


Any other questions? Leave a comment and ask! No trolling, unless your trolling is amusing.


Let’s talk Blue Ruin

Netflix. That collection of digital entertainment where television series and bad movies go to retire.

Netflix. That collection of digital entertainment where a patient subscriber can find the occasional gem.

Last weekend I watched Blue Ruin. I had read the AVClub review of the film and knew it had received some critical love. Sign me up!

Blue Ruin is a revenge film. Many revenge films are stylized and done with the visual flair of an auteur. Blue Ruin is quiet, darkly humorous, and quite depressing.

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, Blue Ruin stars Macon Blair as Dwight. He’s no Charles Bronson or Uma Thurman. He’s small in stature and speaks barely above a whisper.

Dwight is a introduced as a homeless man living in a beater car park by a beach in Delaware. He lives a sad, despondent existence. For 15 minutes, hardly a word is spoken as we follow Dwight digging through garbage for food and breaking into people’s homes to steal a bath.

All this character background pays off throughout the rest of the film.

A kindly police officer visits Dwight and shares the news that the man convicted of the murder of Dwight’s mother and father is being released from prison.

Dwight cleans up. It’s a startling transformation. He wants revenge, and that means he wants to kill the man who killed his parents.

The film is unflinching in showing how pathetic Dwight is as a person. A particularly harsh scene occurs where his sister tells him he is weak. Despite being pathetic, Dwight is determined and endures much pain and fear to accomplish his goals. He has nothing to lose and is not afraid to die. Much of the dark humor spins from this fatalism. Dwight disables a car only to have to use it for a getaway (in his anger he stabbed a tire with a knife that nearly cuts his hand off). He’s shot in the leg with an arrow and there’s a great scene in a pharmacy where Dwight buys needle, thread, pliers, rubbing alcohol, and bandages (the self-surgery…way less amusing).

Blue Ruin shows how dangerous a person can be when they have nothing left to lose. Dwight could be a character straight out of a Coen Brothers film. Hapless, quirky, lacking in respect, but dangerous.

In fact, this film compares well with several Coen Brothers movies (one of the highest compliments I can give as I am a worshiper of their work).

Check it out. Blue Ruin.

Trailer:

 


Newsletter. It is here.

Over on my Facebook page, I tested the waters to see if folks would be interested in a newsletter/announcement related to my writing, editing, and teaching. Enough people responded in a positive manner to convince me it wouldn’t be a waste of time. :)

And now I present to you…the Jason Sizemore Newsletter Sign Up Page!

Clicking takes you to the sign up form.

Clicking this image takes you to the sign up form.

Usual guarantees apply. I won’t sell your email address. I won’t abuse the privilege of having you on the list. Unsubscribing is easy, if you tire of my updates.

If you don’t wish to subscribe at this very moment, the sign up button is conveniently located over on the far right, at the top of the column.


Imaginarium — Workshop, Panels, and a Table

There is a new writers’ convention happening this weekend in Louisville, KY.

What: Imaginarium

Where: Louisville, KY

When: September 19-21

Website: http://www.entertheimaginarium.com/

Workshop list: http://www.entertheimaginarium.com/workshops/

I count 12 workshops happening over the three days led by the likes of Tim Waggoner, Lee Martindale, and…me! There will also be panels on a wide variety of topics and forms.

I’m running a workshop Saturday evening starting at 6pm. Here is the synopsis.

6:00 PM Writing Genre Short Fiction: Join Apex Publications owner and editor Jason Sizemore for a two hour workshop that will (hopefully) lead you on the path to mastering the art of short fiction. The workshop will cover common new writer pitfalls, cover the basic structure of short stories, examine plot, talk about the importance of perfecting your first page and how to tantalize your reader from the start, and discuss the short fiction venues and short fiction editors that you should follow.

My panel schedule:

Saturday, 2pm: What Editors Expect of a Professional Author

Saturday, 4pm: The World of a Magazine Editor

Sunday, 10am: Publishing Magazines

Sunday, 2pm: The Editor’s Function

Finally, Apex Publications will have a table in the dealer’s room. Come grab our latest titles and chat with me and my minions.


You must write (a lot) to be a good writer

On Wednesday, I wrote that you must be a reader to be a good writer. Again, this isn’t true for everybody, but it is solid advice that I believe in and will continue to share.

In response to the post, writer Erin Jensen shared the following wise words about the need to write (a lot):

The notion is that it should be obvious that to write well, you must write, but because it’s considered so apparent a point, it’s hardly mentioned and, therefore, has become undervalued. This isn’t to belittle the importance of reading, but I think the two should go hand-in-hand.

And she’s right. To be a good writer, you have got to put the time into it. Perhaps not 1,000,000 words as an old axiom would lead you to believe, but enough to where it becomes second nature to you. Again, this isn’t true for everybody, but it is solid advice.

I’ve seen some advice givers say that any writing counts. I’m not in agreement with that. If you wish to be a good short fiction writer, you need to write lots of short fiction. If you wish to be good at writing creative nonfiction, then you have to write lots of creative nonfiction.

So…this week I’ve covered two easy (and obvious) ways to be a better writer. I’ve got several more in mind. If I can find the time, I share them next week.

Obviously, the BEST way to improve your writing is to take one of my workshops! :P


You must be a great reader to be a good writer

One of my mantras is that in order to be a good writer you need to be a great reader. Maybe this is not true for everyone, but for a great many I would venture that it is.

I always encourage short fiction authors to try and stay current with their favorite zines. You’ll get a good sense of the type of material they publish. You’re likely to find other great authors to follow. Reading is a great way to feed the creativity beast that resides in your sweet meat . And, finally, you probably will be entertained by what you read.

Oh, and there’s also the whole ‘Supporting the Scene’ stuff. As a publisher/editor, this is one near and dear to my heart.

At the SF/Fantasy workshop I’m leading at the Carnegie Center, I am giving the participants 3 short stories a week to read. Yes, I give homework! For the first week’s reading assignment, I gave them 3 Apex Magazine stories, because self-interest trumps all! Oh, and that the 3 stories are all fantastic.

Here are my week 1 choices from Apex Magazine:

Sister Twelve: Confesssions of a Party Monster by Christopher Barzak
Build-A-Dolly by Ken Liu
The Performance Artist by Lettie Prell

For reading and discussion in our second session, I asked Lightspeed Magazine editor and publisher John Joseph Adams if he could suggest 3 stories from his zine. See, I spread the love! And if any of my workshop participants are reading this blog post, here is a sneak peek!

Here are John’s week 2 choices (thanks John!) from Lightspeed Magazine:

I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno by Vylar Kaftan
Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince by Jake Kerr
Arvies by Adam-Troy Castro

I’ll also post week 3 and week 4’s stories on my blog as well so that you can read along with us.

Okay people, go out and be great readers! Whether you want to write or not.


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