Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Nano Nicky

The following is the scene into which I inserted Nicky. He'll be edited out of the final version of this, but I was a little stuck for inspiration and writing about Nicky gave me my 1670 words for the day. Please note, because this is Nano, this was written quickly with my internal editor shut off. I have spell checked it, though.
Mia looked at the man, appalled. He was about 5’3” and very heavy. Fat actually. There was no other way to describe him. She guessed he weighed in around two hundred to two hundred and ten pounds, and it didn’t look like muscle. He was wearing dirty jeans, a black long sleeved t-shirt with an AC/DC logo on it and white high top sneakers. His scraggly, longish, dark brown hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in days, and his goatee had food crumbs in it. His skin, what little she could see of it, was pale like he didn’t get out in the sun much.

Jack pushed the door open, forcing the guy backwards. “Come on,” he said to Mia.

Mia crouched and ran through the door and slammed it shut behind her. “I didn’t hear any more shots. Did you?” she asked Jack.

“No,” he said. “Just the three.”

“Shots? What shots?” the guy who had answered the door said.

Mia looked around the room they were now in. It appeared to be a living room, with a sofa and a recliner and a TV that looked older than she was. There was also a set of stairs leading down to a basement. The overhead lights were on, but since the curtains were pulled, the room was dim. It smelled of cigarette smoke and urine. Lovely. Still it was better than outside at the moment.

“What’s your name?” Jack asked the guy.

“Nickolaus. Who are you?”

Jack tucked his gun into his jacket pocket. “OK, Nickolaus, we need to use a phone.”

“What the hell is going on?” Nickolaus looked confused. “Why do you have a gun? You can’t be shooting at people here, you know, mister.”

“We weren’t doing the shooting,” Mia said. “Somebody was shooting at us.”

“What shooting?” Nickolaus plopped his oversized butt down on the sofa. “I didn’t hear anything. I’m so confused.” He picked up a can of Coors Light from the coffee table and took a big swallow, leaving a nasty film on his already filthy goatee.

Mia suppressed a shudder. She turned to Jack. “You’re calling the police?”


“I thought you wanted to keep a low profile, not let anyone know we’re in town.”

“I do. I’ll file the report under—“ he broke off and looked at Nickolaus who was still collapsed on the sofa, shaking his head and muttering to himself. “I’ll use the fake ID’s,” he whispered to her.

“Gotcha,” Mia said. “So, Nickolaus, do you have a phone we could use?”

Nickolaus stopped muttering. “Um, well, I guess you could use the one on the motel office. But you’ll have to wait until Granny gets back.”

“Granny?” Mia asked.

“Probably the woman who just checked me in,” Jack said to Mia. “She’d be about the right age. Where did she go, Nick? She was here just a moment ago.”

“Dunno.” Nickolaus took another swig of beer. “She just got a call and left. Told me not to touch anything. Stupid bitch.”

“You talk about your grandmother that way?” Mia asked. She knew that not everyone had good family relations, but she still didn’t like to hear this dirty little guy say things like that.

“Yeah. So?” Nickolaus stood up and puffed out his chest. “I live downstairs in the basement, and I help her out all the time. She couldn’t get by without me. And what does she do? She takes away my Internet connection and makes me get my own phone line.”

“That’s too bad,” Jack said with false sympathy.

“Yeah, the cow,” Nickolaus said. “The whole thing wasn’t my fault, you know. I was just standing up for my writing. Then those stupid assholes started prank calling here. Waking up Granny at all hours. It’s elder abuse, I tell you.”

“I’m lost,” Mia said. “I almost hate to ask. What writing? What are you talking about?”

“I’m an infamous horror writer. I’m very well respected in the small press market and I’m not afraid to tell people to piss off. I have a right to be published after all. Those assholes have no right to say my writing sucks.”

“What assholes?” Mia said.

“Those assholes at SA and others, and on Amazon, and they posted libelous tags about my books.”

“SA? Huh?” Mia said.

Nickolaus nodded. “And I’ll give a big fat middle finger to anyone who disrespects what I’ve done.”

Mia looked at Nickolaus’s hands and decided that fat was an apt description for his fingers. She sighed. Another nutcase.

“Look,” Jack said, obviously as tired of Nick as she was, “we just need to use a phone.”

“Granny locked the one up front. But you can use the one in my apartment. It’ll cost you ten bucks, though.”

“Your apartment?”

“Yeah, down there.” Nickolaus pointed down the stairs. “It’s pretty cool. It’s got two kitchens.”

Mia looked at Jack. “After you,” she said, not liking the smell that was coming up from the basement.

“Wonderful.” Mia saw Jack roll his eyes. What the heck were they in for, she wondered.

They followed the bad smelling Nickolaus down the stairs and into what passed for his living space. It had a vinyl tile floor with the ugliest pattern Mia had ever seen. A pull-out sofa graced the far wall; the mattress was out and covered with mussed up dirty blankets, something that sort of looked like a sleeping bag and two pillows that she really hoped had not originally been white. There was another TV opposite the bed, and a small desk and bookshelf to the right. The desk was covered with papers, beer cans, an ashtray and two plates with sandwich crusts.

Nickolaus must have seen Mia looking at the desk because he said, “Cool, huh? That’s where I create all of my stories. That’s it. I have pictures of me writing. Do you want to see them?”

“Um, no,” Mia said. She turned to Jack. “Let’s just make the call and get out of here.”

Jack laughed, probably at her discomfort. He knew she was something of a neat freak. “Phone?” he said to the little troll.

“Over there.” Nick pointed towards the desk.

“Stay here. And don’t shoot any cockroaches,” Jack said to Mia.

“Ha ha. Very funny.” She scowled at him.

“I don’t have roaches.” Nickolaus said, sounding affronted.

Jack walked over and hesitated for a moment, then reached out and picked up a phone. Mia could tell from the way Jack held it that it wasn’t any cleaner than the rest of the basement. She figured she would just stay where she was by the foot of the stairs. She still had her gun, so shooting roaches was technically possible. Depending upon how big they were and how fast they were moving. She was a good shot after all. The concrete floor might cause the bullet to ricochet, though, and hit something she didn’t intend – like Jack.

She waited impatiently while Jack called the police. Nickolaus stood off to the side and shifted from foot to foot. He refused to look at her, almost as if he were afraid of her.

“Thanks,” Jack finally said into the phone and hung it up. A pile of papers slid off the desk and onto the floor. Under the papers was a gay porn magazine, flipped open to a picture of a very well endowed centerfold. Mia almost burst out laughing as Nickolaus scrambled to pick up the papers and cover up the magazine.

He turned very red. “That’s, um, that, um, I’m just holding that for a friend. I’m not gay. I’m a conservative. I’m a Republican. I voted for George Bush and I only date women who were born women.” The words fell out of him in a desperate rush.

Mia almost felt sorry for him. She had had a female friend when she was in the Navy who had turned out to be gay. The woman had been very afraid that she would be found out and booted from the Navy, which she really loved. Mia had been as supportive as she could, but she had lost track of the woman after she left the Navy herself after Dusty’s shooting.

“It’s alright,” Mia told him. “We’re not going to judge you.”

“I’m not gay!” Nickolaus shouted at her.

“Calm down,” Jack said.

“No,” Nickolaus shouted. “Get out. Out! I’m not gay. I’m not. I’m not. I’m not.” He collapsed onto the sofa bed, flipped the sleeping bag looking thing over him, curled up into the fetal position and began to shake all over.

That was not a normal reaction. “Do you suppose we should call someone?” Mia said.

A door slammed upstairs.

“Sounds like Granny is back,” Jack said. “We can tell her. Let’s get out of here.”

They went back upstairs and found the woman whom Jack had seen when he checked them in. She looked surprised to see them coming up from the basement.

“What’s that little trouble-maker done now?” she asked as she dropped bag of groceries on the coffee table.

“Nothing, ma’am,” Jack said. “We just needed to use the phone, and you were out. Your grandson let us use his.”

“You might want to check on him, too,” Mia said. “I don’t think he’s feeling well.” That was the kindest way Mia could think to put it.

“What else is new,” Granny said. “I’ll check on him, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Why did you need to use the phone?”

“Why did you leave so suddenly?” Jack asked, ignoring her question.

“Had to run an errand. What business is it of yours?” She sounded suspicious of Jack.

“Uh huh,” Jack said. “Well, tell Nickolaus thanks for the phone. We’ll just go out the front.”

Mia followed him as he walked by the woman and out into the area behind the front desk. He looked cautiously out through the plate glass windows, but Mia didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. No bad guys toting guns around.

Just then a police cruiser pulled into the parking lot, and a deputy got out.

“Come on,” Jack said. “Follow my lead, Mrs. Sterling.”

“Of course, Mr. Sterling.”

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I've Become a Content Provider at AC

Yes, I've joined the party at Associated Content. My profile is here.

I hadn't planned on joining and posting anything because Tim was doing such a great job, and AC seemed to be his path to annoying our favorite closeted gay boi. But he expressed to me in an e-mail that he felt the more reviews at AC, the merrier. So I've just now submitted my reviews of "More Frightening Than Fiction" and "Darkened Horizons, Issue 3". I don't know how long it will take them to post, but I'll edit this entry when they go up.

I've also got some reviews of the Tabloid Purposes series coming up after Nano is over.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nicky, Me, and Spinetinglers (Redux -- Part Two)

See the previous entry for the beginning of of this conversation. Continuing on:


12-20-06 Me: Still with the insults, huh? I'm pretty tolerant, but if you keep up with the personal attacks, I will take this to the site moderators.

Now then...

I never said small press was bad. Don't put words in my mouth. Small press can be good or bad, depending on the editor. And a small press run by an editor who doesn't recognize spelling and grammar mistakes and poor storytelling is not a small press whose products I will buy. Ever. Unfortunately, that now includes anything put out by you. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Also, trying to get me to change my opinion about your story just because some other random person/editor liked it is futile. It's my opinion. I know what good English looks like, and I think you don't. That's why I mentioned the "Elements of Style" book. It's not "a crappy book". It's got good sound grammar and writing. I think your writing would improve if you took it to heart.

Let's see what else...

Why do you think your story was one of 300 submitted? And being in the top five means only that your story was better than the others, not that it is good. It's all relative.

You asked me to respect you. I did...until your PMs (and e-mail) to me where you started in with the cursing and the personal insults. I don't respect someone who behaves like that in response to criticism of his writing. It's totally inappropriate.

And finally, what the heck is "a semi-professional level" of publishing?

12-20-06 Nicky: What authority you have to say i suck then, why don't you put one of your stories on the chopping block you cowardly bitch?

12-20-06 Me: What authority you have to say i suck then

The United States Constitution and the laws of this wonderful land allow citizens to express their opinions about many things, including the quality of your writing.

12-20-06 Nicky: I bet you read formula hacks like Brian Keene and Mary Sangiovanni. I am rooted in the authors that predate Stephen King, you ignorant cow. Keene sucks and Sangiovanni hates anyone who will tell her that she doesn't have her heart in the genre which I am thinking the same about you. How do I know that you're just another no-name hack who hasn't made it yet? I've analized the genre long enough to say I know the well I am doing, I don't need a stuck up asshole to see that, and you ring now are a stuck up bitch.

If you are saying I need to study those two, then no thank you. I studied Cherie Priest's work too, and read some authors who are out of my generation and I worked with a good number of them as a publisher. So before you go blasting on me as a publisher, take a look at some of the authors on rosters. They are some of the best in the business. You have no vision for horror, and you don't know sheer creativity when you see it.

If you think this site is beneath you then why are you commenting on the stories then?

12-20-06 Nicky: You're not an American. And I guess you like formula writers, because I get sick and tired of the same old thing. I like to do things different -- so if you don't like that lady then piss off.

12-20-06 Me: don't know sheer creativity when you see it.

Of course I do! I think your spelling and grammer are pretty creative. I'm reporting you to the admin of this board. The cow and bitch comments were the last straw.

12-25-06 Nicky: PUT YOUR TALENT WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS! Don't act like this site is below you and shut the hell up with the one star reviews, just because you hate that story that doesn't mean you have to insult the people who like it. You insulted the admin by saying that story sucked because she picked that one because she liked it.

12-25-06 Nicky: I figured out that you must have been one of Peter Barnes' buddies.

12-25-06 Nicky: friends with all the assholes who pirated my books that is you goddamned cow.

12-30-06 Me: Nick, Nick, Nick, such vitriol on Christmas Day. Why do you think everyone who dislikes your writing knows each other? And why in the world would I want to "steal" your stories when I've said over and over that I think the writing is horrible?

Oh, but I do have to thank you for pointing out Peter Barnes. I've read through his blog on Xanga (the recent stuff anyway), and I have a whole new understanding...

1-17-07 Nicky: What kind of horror do you write about? I bet my next royality check that you write about oversexed vampires, and seeing that you got connected up with Peter Barnes you're starting to pick up some of his asshole traits. He bragged about owning a pirated copy of my books and he harassed my publishers. I know this because it was brought to my attention. You don't see me going around harassing your publishers telling them not to run your work though the temptation is there.

I will shut up only when you submit to the contest and see what story you got out there. You're a bitch for blasting the story, because I think you eat the peanuts out of the shit of Peter Barnes and Brian Keene while you're at it. It doesn't surprise me that you might of got up to where you are by having your feet over your head. Either deliver or shut the up, I managed to get paid for my work too but you do act like this site is below you.

Why do I get this feeling you're a Poppy Z. Brite clone?


And that is the last I have saved to my file. I can't onto to Spinetinglers right now, but I think Nicky was banned before the conversation could go any further.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nicky, Me, and Spinetinglers (Redux -- Part One)

I first met Nicky at Spinetinglers (don't click through, though; the site is under reconstruction). Nicky's infamous "Spectral Exile" was one of the five stories posted for November 2006. I left an honest and not-too-mean review. That started a long series of PM's back and follows:

12-18-06 Nicky: I noticed you've flamed my short story, just to keep in mind that story got accepted in two anthologies. It made the top five for a reason, so I want to see can you do better -- or are you the kind of person who just writes fan fiction of Nightmare on Elm Street, show me if you can do better than Spectral Exile.

12-18-06 Me: (Unfortunately, I didn't save this first response)

12-19-06 Nicky: I worked very hard at that story and it did get picked up by a paying market. I guess you denounced that story for one reason you're friends with Peter Barnes. The one anthology is not being put out by so kindly refrain from ripping on that one before even reading the anthology. I guess you wrote nothing but fan fiction so you don't know what an original story looks like. Spectral Exile got me some new readers legitimately, but what you say contributes to the constant e-piracy of my books.

If you don't have something nice to say about a story or someone who writes it then bite your damned tongue. This isn't a personal attack, just common sense. I guess your idea of Gothic horror is vampires that take it up the ass.

12-19-06 Me: I guess you denounced that story for one reason you're friends with Peter Barnes.

I'm not friends with any Peter Barnes, and I didn't "denounce" your story. I thought it was poorly written and confusing, and I said as much.

I guess you wrote nothing but fan fiction so you don't know what an original story looks like.

Oh good grief, you don't like message, so you attack the messenger. I don't write fan fiction. I consider it a copyright violation and a waste of my creative talents. I've read some, though, and most of it is irredeemable trash. I didn't say your story was unoriginal. I said it was poorly written and confusing: bad grammer, headhopping, redundant sentences, non-existent transitions, etc.

...but what you say contributes to the constant e-piracy of my books.

Um, how does my saying the story is poorly written and confusing contribute to people stealing it? Wouldn't it be just the opposite? Wouldn't I be warning people to stay away from it?

If you don't have something nice to say about a story or someone who writes it then bite your damned tongue.

The web site didn't say, "Only post nice things and high scores." I gave you my honest opinion. And I didn't criticize you. I criticized your writing. Also, when I like a story, I say so. See my comments on "Wilderness".

I guess your idea of Gothic horror is vampires that take it up the ass.

No, I like Gothic horror stories written in proper English with plot lines that I can follow. Again, you are making assumptions about me, trying to tear me down so that you don't have to even consider anything I said. If you want to be a successful writer, I think that you need to grow a thicker skin.

12-19-06 Nicky: That story is one of my better ones, so seeing a remark like yours I respond like a personal attack because people pirated books over remarks like that. I lost sales of my books over those kind of remarks. If you think you can do better put your talents where your mouth is instead of criting and ripping a story a new one, post a put a story up on the whipping post.

That is more than I could say with what you think, as far as I know you're nothing but a fan fiction writer or a slash writer for that matter. Both are scum of the earth to me, because it makes it harder for me to get noticed. I got a lot of critical acclaim in my favor and my stories do sell. You deserved every personal attack I made via email unless you can defend it by putting up a story of your own.

I think you prefer a hack like Darren McKeeman and believe me that bastard sucks more than some of the writers who are in the mass market these days. It takes more to do a short story without erotic content. I got that story as a promotion to the two anthologies noted. Scarlett liked the story and so did the person who is doing the anthology, so if you want to discredit a story like that then you're wasting your time. I expect at least 3 star review before I have someone's respect.

You're right there with that person who tried to stop the forums dead, and he came here to chase me around to descredit everything I've done. Don't follow his example. If you truly think I suck go read some of the stories on AuthorsDen. If you rip on those stories like you rip on this one, then if someone gives you a personal attack for doing it then don't come crying to me little girl.

12-19-06 Me: Dude, you need to chill. I don't care what a few other random people on the Internet think of your writing. I gave you my honest opinion of your writing, and you persist in attacking my character -- and going on about e-piracy (still makes no sense why my saying I think your writing is poor would lead to someone stealing it???) and lost sales of (self-published??) books -- so that you don't have to deal with the criticisms.

Look, if you want to improve your writing, try reading and applying:

1. "Elements of Style," by Strunk and White
2. One other really comprehensive grammar book ("Elements of Style" is a subset of grammar rules)
3. "On Writing," by Stephen King. He's got some good advice!

Then read some modern horror and anlayze how it's written. Look at sentence structure, pacing, transitions, dialogue, dialogue tags, etc. See what it is that gets writing published (legitimately, not the Lulu way).

Also, I will not be posting my work on-line for reasons I've already stated. I might check out one of your stories at AuthorsDen, but you since you seem to react to honest criticism with personal attacks, I'm not sure how that would benefit either one of us.

12-19-06 Nicky: Go back to your Poppy Z. Brite novels and quit wasting my time. I started a small press because of and got some strong authors on board, so you got a lot of gall to think the small press is below you. What the hell are you some kind of mass market snob? The hell with that elements of style book, I got my horror education from the H.P. Lovecraft, and you need to really look at writers who don't even look at a crappy book like that. I bet you don't even have fiction written, put your ing talents where your mouth is instead of ripping on a story that made the top five out of 300 short stories.

12-19-06 Nicky: Give me a little more respect than that woman, I am published on a semi-professional level. So who the hell are you to say I suck when you got nothing to show for yourself? Put one of your goddamned stories on and see what you got. It takes more balls to get a story published and to self-publish than not be published at all. You're a nobody.


And there's more. I'll post it tomorrow or later tonight.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nicky and Nanowrimo

I'm currently at my weekly Nanorimo write-in and wanted to let Nicky know (and I know you read this, Nicky) that I just wrote him into my novel. I realized that I needed a stupid motel clerk to facilitate some drama, and since I had already depicted the clerk as not-stupid, I gave her an unkempt beer-swilling cigarette-smoking foul-mouthed grandson who lived in the hotel basement and covered for her when she had to run out. Grandson Nickolaus is currently doing an excellent job of making my characters look smart and himself look like an idiot.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nicky's Latest Sees the Light of Day

It' s no secret by now that Autoaim obtained "Shitstorm", Nicky's attempt at writing directly from Nicky himself and posted it on his blog. Autoaim's site is currently shut down. I believe that he is dealing with a DMCA notice from Nicky -- although I'm surprised Nicky could even figure out how to file one given his lack of reading comprehension and writing skill.

"Shitstorm" is a pile of crap like Nicky's other writings, better than some, worse than others. The villain is a fan fiction writer named Karen Morgan (ooh, tough to figure out who he's after here) who did things with characters that the original authors didn't like. Sounds about par for most of the fan fiction I've read, so what's the big deal?

In Nicky's story, writing fan fiction is sin against God, awakens damnation (however, the hell one does that) and ruins the original authors because it steals away readers. Uh...yeah. I think this story emphasizes one aspect of Nicky's character that has become apparent to me over the years: Nicky takes mere words far too seriously. For example:

  • He freaks at the idea of someone burning a manuscript (see "F&*^beater" and "Shitstorm", as well as a myriad of blog posts). These days, though, a manuscript is just a printout from a computer. Who cares if one burns? Just print out another.
  • He thinks lobbing any kind of insult at someone will automatically "piss them off". That's how Nicky reacts, of course, but most of the rest of (adult) humanity has a better sense of self-worth than that. I'm not saying that verbal insults can never be injurious. Far from it. Most of us, however, consider the source, and if the opinion of the person issuing the insult doesn't matter to use, we can let it go.

  • He freaks when someone uses one of his characters for sport and has to tell everyone that that is NOT what his character would do. Any person reading Nicky spoofs probably already knows enough about Nicky to know that he or she is reading a spoof.

Nicky also finally got around to mentioning me in a story. He writes, " was just as unforgivable as that the deeds of what Ms. Wagner had done. The one who went and swiped every title in an unnamed anthology then plagiarized the stories, word for word. " Ms. Wagner would be me, but I'm not sure if Nicky has figured that out. He hasn't referred to me as "horrorgal" once since I posted Tabloid Purposes: A Road Trip, only as Jennifer Wagner. If he'd read the copyright page, he would see that I listed my e-mail address and it's the same one he's used to e-mail me before.

And for the record, I didn't plagiarize the stories. I've never read the stories, just their titles.