Monday, April 27, 2015

On Readers Getting Who I Am

An early review of Through A Mirror, Darkly - my novella quartet due from Crystal Lake Publishing, June 5th - has popped up on Indiebration​. I'm a little flustered, as always, to be mentioned with these names. Honestly, I just hope folks dig it, like everything else.

"Lucia certainly has a knack with words and a clipped economic style that hints and intimates things in the corner of our mind’s eye rather than wave them in our faces. What I really think makes this writer’s fiction is that he has learned from the masters of the genre but is not imitative of them. There are elements of Stephen King, Thomas Ligotti and H.P. Lovecraft in this fiction, but Lucia is very much a writer with his own voice." 

There's a lot to like in this interview. As many authors have said in response to reviews of their work - both formal like this, and from everyday readers - is how awesome it feels when readers get it. And by that, I don't mean that they get how smart we writers are, (because that can be debatable, especially in my case) but they get who we. I'm very gratified to see folks who enjoy what I feel like is my voice, emerging from all the influences I've poured into my brain over the years.

Of course, I don't aim at a distinct style or anything like that. Did a bit of that in my early days, trying to be "stylish." That changed, however, when  - ironically, when he was visiting  with one of my students - horror author and friend Dan Keohane once remarked that the best stories are the ones in which the author disappears, in favor of the story. Since then, I've always tried my best to get out of the story's way (though I'm sure I'm not always successful). All I can say about writing in my voice is this: more and more, I just try to write the stories I want to, and that's all. And it's nice to know that folks dig my voice. Helps me get up every morning, in effort to hone that voice, and tell more stories that only I could tell.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Release Day: THE WAY OF AH-TZENUL

Today is the release of a novelette I've chosen to self-publish, THE WAY OF AH-TZENUL. Here's the particulars:

June 5th, THROUGH A MIRROR DARKLY will release from Crystal Lake Publishing. In it, Kevin Ellison, new owner of Arcane Delights, receives a mysterious box full of books. One of them is an old journal entitled THE WAY OF AH-TZENUL. Luckily, he doesn't read it. Others, however, have not been so fortunate....


 
"A farmer desperate to improve on last year's poor crops discovers a box of old books at the landfill, and among them an ancient journal offering planting advice not found in any Farmer's Almanac known to modern man... " 





This one is a bit....different from what I usually write. Definitely weirder.  Way weirder. In any case, check it out for .99 today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Coming Soon...

Again, I'm unsure how many folks still come here instead of Facebook, but regardless, here it is. Check out Ben Baldwin's always fabulous work...


Arcane Delights. Clifton Heights' premier rare and used bookstore. In it, new owner Kevin Ellison has inherited far more than a family legacy, for inside are tales that will amaze, astound, thrill...and terrify.

An ancient evil thirsty for lost souls. A very different kind of taxi service with destinations not on any known map. Three coins that grant the bearer's fondest wish, and a father whose crippling grief gives birth to something dark and hungry.

Every town harbors secrets. Kevin Ellison is about to discover those that lurk in the shadows of Clifton Heights.

Coming June from Crystal Lake Publishing - THROUGH A MIRROR, DARKLY.

Monday, March 9, 2015

GET FREE BOOKS


GET FREE BOOKS: My next book, THROUGH A MIRROR, DARKLY, will be released in June. Like for Things Slip Through​, I'll be running a promotional contest with SWAG and cash for prizes. People receiving my email newsletter will get first crack. If you sign up for my email newsletter  by the end of the week - at kevin @ kevinlucia dot com - I'll send you the ebook of my first short story collection, Things Slip Through​, for free. If you read it and post an honest review, I'll send you the ebook of my second booK, Devourer of Souls for free. If you read that and post an honest review of that, I'll send you free .pdfs of my upcoming Amazon Single, THE WAY OF AH-TZENUL  and my mini-collection STRANGE DAYS. 

Review: sign up for email, get free book, review book and get more free books. This week only. Will repeat contest again next month. Thanks! THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY PURCHASED EITHER OF THESE BOOKS CAN STILL PLAY BY POSTING HONEST REVIEWS.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Where Do I Go From Here? An Agent. Though I Have No Idea How To Get One.

Sometimes, this is what my writing career feels like:
 a path with an ending I can't see.
I haven't blogged in awhile. Things are busy at school. We're just past Winter Break, on the long road to Spring. Add in coaching duties this year (my daughter's Youth Club Basketball Team), and I've had just enough time write my fiction, and that's it. And with Madi's second basketball season starting up next Saturday, I've got this Saturday to fit a blog in, and then I'll probably go dark again until nearer to the end of the school year.

So, here's some updates. It's actually been a productive year. My story "Out of Field Theory" appeared in Shock Totem's Halloween Special. It's a spooky tale revisiting Bassler House, and I had a blast writing it.

Secondly, another Clifton Heights story "The Black Pyramid" appeared in Hazardous Press' small-town Lovecraftian collection, Shadows Over Main Street. Not only is this thing packed with talent, it's kicking butt on Amazon's rankings, still #3 in Anthologies. Very proud to be a part of this one.



Third,  I signed a contract with a publisher (who must remain nameless for now) that about blows my mind. Not only is it a huge step for me, I really dig this novella - Mystery Road - and can't wait for folks to read it. It's easily my most accessible story yet, with a very subtle, Twilight Zone vibe.

Fourth, my next Clifton Heights book - Through A Mirror, Darkly - is in the proofreading stages, out to blurb readers, and set to release June 1st. I've recently started communicating with amazing artist Ben Baldwin (who was responsible for the magnificent cover of Things Slip Through), and I can't wait to see what's in store this time around.

I'm currently working on my first novel - The Mighty Dead - which has been requested by another fabulous publisher, the likes of which also blows my mind. Of course, they want to check it out, which doesn't necessarily mean they'll publish it, but even so. In addition, I recently sent out a synopsis for a non-Clifton Heights novel - A Winter Storm - to a respected horror press I'd love to work with.  And of course, there is that sorta-finished-but-needs-work Billy the Kid weird western novel, though I'm still not sure what to do with it. 

Lots of exciting stuff, and I've got two novellas out doing the submissions rounds, to boot. I'm more productive than I've ever been, sales have been slow but steady on both Things Slip Through and Devourer of Souls, and I'm very happy and content for all my success.

And yet, given that...I'm thinking very hard about my future, about what comes next. I've come to the inevitable conclusion that, very soon...I need to suck it up and start searching for an agent.

And honestly?

The prospect terrifies me.  Mostly, the prospect of all the time wasted, all the hopes raised, with very little guarantee of returns. I've heard so many horror stories about agents not working very hard on behalf of their clients, of agents working hard but getting nowhere, about agents not understanding horror, about agents not caring about horror, about sketchy agents....it all makes me want to keep my head in the sand.

And even if I do find a good agent, (a monumental if in my mind) I don't want to get myself into a rut writing manuscript after manuscript, shopping them out to an agent, but having nothing published it all, allowing what little momentum I've managed to build wither away and die.

See, here's the thing I can't escape: I'm beyond thrilled with how far I've come, and the new developments on the horizon indeed are taking me a step up the ladder. And if I try - really try - to go higher and it doesn't work out, at least I'll have done my best, and I'll be able to rest on that, and be content with where I am.

But...to never try? To always wonder what could've happened?

Of course, we come back to the reality, however, that searching for an agent scares the ever-living hell out of me. I also need a novel to find an agent. So, the question is - when do I draw the line, write a novel, and instead of shopping it to a small press, suck it up and send it to an agent?

I have no idea.

But it's gotta be soon. I'm don't plan on giving up on the small press entirely and soley writing novels for agents in hopes of a big score. At the same time, I have to pull my head out of the sand and try to aim higher, and I have to do it, soon.

Before my head gets stuck in that sand, forever.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Stephen King Revisited - Salem's Lot and Needful Things, and a TOC

First, continued teasing for Shadows Over Main Street, the small-town Lovecraftian anthology coming soon from Hazardous Press. I am once again excited and humbled to find myself sharing a TOC with such awesome writers. That, and I can't wait to see the interior illustrations for this puppy. Check out the TOC  below:


Also, Cemetery Dance editor Richard Chizmar is doing an awesome thing. He's revisiting all of Stephen King's novels in order, posting reflections on his first impressions of those novels, and how they've held up over the years. Bev Vincent is also posting essays about King. It's all happening at stephenkingrevisited.com.

This has prompted me to begin re-reading Stephen King, as well as finally reading those of his novels I missed the first time around. I won't be doing it necessarily in order, nor will I be able to post as often as I'd like. BUT, my blog needs a jump start, and this seems like the thing to spark it.

Also...I feel like I've come full circle in my love of Stephen King and his work. He introduced me to horror, made me realize that I had the wrong ideas (all informed by slasher flicks) about what the "horror genre" really was. From my late-twenties into my mid-thirties, I read as much Stephen King as possible (along with Dean Koontz and Peter Straub), but it was King I focused on, devouring as many novels as could, as fast as I could.

But here's the thing: I don't think I really appreciated them for what they were. I plowed through them one after another, finishing a book, thinking, "That was awesome!" and then diving into another. I have a suspicion that re-reading King now, at my age, is going to open an entirely different world to me.

Another thing? After spending several years exploring as many different horror writers as I could (years well spent, without which I never would've discovered Ramsey Campbell, Charles Grant, T. M. Wright, Alan Ryan, Robert McCammon and so many others), I've come to realize that after all this, King still tops the list for me. There's something in his characters and stories that are so very compelling.  In my time off from reading King I discovered many wonderful writers whose work became fundamental in shaping and molding me (especially the late Charles Grant), but in my mind, no one tells a story like King. Of course, as always, this is just my opinion, and your mileage may vary.

Still another motivator was finally digging in King's short work (yes, I know, I hang my head in shame). I blitzed straight through Nightshift, Skeleton Crew, Everything's Eventual and Nightmares and Dreamscapes...and was enthralled. He could tell you an insightful, moving and poignant story about finding back roads maybe better left alone ("Mrs. Todd's Shortcut") or really fun stories involving a pair of motorized toy teeth coming to a guy's rescue on a lonely interestate. Regardless of the kind of story, it seemed to me: King enjoyed the HELL out of what he was writing, and we should all be so lucky.

 Anyway, I decided to re-read the King novels I've already read, and also get the ones I'd missed over the years. I actually re-read The Shining about a year ag0 (in preparation for Dr. Sleep), so I'm not going to focus on that except to say this: the emotional impact of Jack Torrance's downfall hit me twice as hard reading it as a father. I first read it as a single guy in college. I cognitively knew it was tragic, but didn't necessarily feel it was. This time around, I definitely felt that way.

Also, on comparing The Shining and Dr. Sleep? I don't think you can, really. They were written by different guys. In an essay, King says (and I'm paraphrasing) that The Shining was written by a young guy who was an alcoholic desperately afraid of being an alcoholic and in denial, while Dr. Sleep was written by a recovered alcoholic now living a healthy lifestyle, twenty years later. To me, both books fit both "guys" and I love them on their own merits.

Anyway, let's get to the nitty-gritty: 

Salem's Lot and Needful Things

Here's the thing I realized upon finishing these two novels: they impacted me so much, the very first "horror novel" I tried to write was an insane combination of the two, with a liberal sprinkling of It to boot (more on that when I re-read it). Probably the thing that struck me most back then was the vivid, meticulous, endearing - and at times heartbreaking - characterization in both novels. These people were real. Some of them good people, good people with flaws, good people hurting, weak people doing the best with what they had, jerks you still sorta felt bad for, schmucks you wish would get it right even though you sorta knew they wouldn't....

These were real people. I could imagine knowing these folks, working with these folks. I really truly believe that even after being a reading addict my whole life, it was King who created in me this thirst for characters I really cared about, even at the expense of the plot. I know the old saying - different strokes for different folks - but whenever I see someone complaining that a Stephen King novel is "too bloated with too much wasted writing" I automatically know I'm probably gonna love it. A bloated novel to others is to me an awesome journey that I enjoy regardless of the destination.

And it was the interactions of these characters, and their mistakes and their downfalls, or how they rose above those downfalls - or didn't, despite their best efforts - that created the tension in both books, not plots with "twists." In Salem's Lot, the vampires are almost incidental. They came, they saw, they devoured...but the people of Salem's Lot were ready to be devoured. In Needful Things, Leland Gaunt definitely yanks the strings of the poor folks in Castle Rock...but those folks had been ready and waiting for someone to come along and offer them exactly what they wanted.

I tried copying all these things in the earliest incarnations of Clifton Heights, my own little mythical town. I had a guy like Leland Gaunt coming to pray on people's weaknesses. And yes, he was a vampire, and turning weak, confused people (who probably didn't mind so much because of how much they hated their lives) into vampires. I had a priest confused about his faith, who had been partially turned into a vampire (Salem's Lot.) My sheriff was a mere shadow of Alan Pangborn (Needful Things). 

There of course was a house where terrible things had happened (Salem's Lot). An autistic boy who "saw" things (basically, Danny from The Shining). And of course, a band of childhood friends who had stopped this evil once before and were now returning to finally put it to rest (It). In several different variations, the autistic boy was sent back to when the friends were boys, and of course my friends rescued him from bullies, so when they were grown up, he could help them with his special powers (by then, Dreamcatcher). In it's earliest incarnation, there were even apocalyptic tones (The Stand). Re-reading both these books, I even came across descriptions of towns and people that I had VERY liberally re-tasked in those drafts.

Luckily, that early effort fell apart under its own weight. As I continued developing, I slowly learned that I could definitely let myself be influenced by King - how powerful his characterization was, how engrossing his stories were - but I needed to find my own voice in this. Find inspiration from my life and experiences, and try to bring those to life in the truest way I knew how.

I think I've done okay. So far, my work has been decently well-received. However, I think I'm at transitional moment. What do I want to write? What kind of stories do I want to tell? 

At the bottom of it all? Stories that are fun to write. Stories I enjoy telling. Stories that mean something and say something, but stories that interest me. Probably the best comment I ever received was for my first work, my novella Hiram Grange and the Chosen One. Upon reading it, good friend and awesome writer Norman Prentiss said, "I really liked it! And I could tell you had a lot of fun writing it, too."

Because at the end of the day...why write something you don't want to? And that's another thing I admire King for. He writes what he wants because he enjoys it, he loves every minute of it. I may be a foolish idealist, but take all the money and the fame away, in the end, I think King writes what he loves, and we should all be so lucky.

Currently reading: Pet Semetary

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Much Ado About...Something? In Which I Wonder If It's Time to Leave Clifton Heights For A Season

It's been awhile since I blogged meaningfully. I have the day off for Thanksgiving break, have some news to share and some thoughts too, so here it goes. First, the cool stuff:

Recently, my short story "Out of Field Theory" appeared in Shock Totem Magazine's special Halloween issue. Both print and ebook versions are now available. I find myself in good company, appearing alongside John Boden and Bracken MacLeodDavid G. BlakeRose Blackthorn, Kriscinda Lee Everitt, Barry Lee Dejasu, Ken WoodSydney Leigh, Lee ThomasMike LombardoJeremy Wagner and Babs Boden. If you buy the print edition, you get the ebook free, so it's more than worth checking out.

Also, I recently shared the news that my first short story collection, Things Slip Through, will soon be re-distributed through Ingram Spark, and will hopefully be available to stock on retail bookshelves across the country. It's a really cool step, but to be honest, I'm keeping the whole thing in perspective. Yes, technically, if the whole things works out, my work will now be more available than ever before. 



But, availability doesn't necessarily equal sales. Just because it's on the bookshelf at Barnes & Noble and other book stores (if I can even get them to stock it) doesn't mean anyone will actually buy it, a fact I'm sure many veterans can attest to. However, when Joe Mynhardt at Crystal Lake Publishing asked me if I wanted to give it a go, I said yes. A year and a half after its publication, and I think (maybe pessimistically) that the collection has gone as far as it will through Amazon (though I imagine that with every new release, it'll experience a sales bump). 

Anyway, after a good run it's finally slipping down the ranks, and the time seems right to "take a step up." That's always been my goal, that no matter what I do, every step I take is FORWARD or UPWARD, (even if they're small, methodical steps), and not sideways. This is a chance to take a step forward (not a guarantee), one I'm willing to take.

Honestly, I'm just hoping the entire venture will work out well for Crystal Lake. I hope they won't experience any losses, I hope it will give them (and, hopefully, me) a little more visibility. In the end, if the move doesn't hurt them, and if I get to walk into my own Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf, another life-long dream will be attained. Anyway, redistribution means new layout, the results of which I find very satisfactory:



And finally, the crux of this post: moving forward, and where I go from here. I'm currently finished with the first round of edits on my next project, scheduled for a June 2015 release: Through A Mirror, Darkly. It's a novella quartet set in Clifton Heights, in the spirit of Charles L. Grant's Oxrun Station novella quartets, though I hope told in my way, in my voice. I was excited to get the green light on the project, as I feel like these novellas represent my best work yet.

HOWEVER...I ran into a little hump. A  drawback to working within a connected universe. Listening to the audiobook of Devourer of Souls, I came across a reference I'd forgotten that I'd made, which threatened to completely change my plans for the current project because of the continuity issue it made. This is the first time that's happened, and it's caused me to think very hard about HOW much longer I want to write these interconnected stories set in Clifton Heights.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to toss the whole thing aside. There are endless opportunities for short stories and novellas set in this town. So many people, so many characters to set into motion. But this little hiccup has caused me to think of, for the very first time, the downsides to writing within a contained universe, and how it might threaten to not only inhibit me as a writer, but also how - if the stories become too inter-referential - prohibit new readers from jumping aboard.

I haven't come to any conclusions, as of yet. If it's one thing I've learned, productivity takes precedence: you keep writing, keep pushing forward. You can always edit and change and tweak things. But if you allow yourself to get locked up with fears and doubts? Well, you can't edit or tweak or change zero words. 

So I've come to no firm ideas, yet. This book and the following - my first novel - The Mighty Dead, are both firmly set in Clifton Heights. After that? Who knows?

It might be time to take another step UP, and forge into new territory, outside my comfort  zone of Clifton Heights. Either way, I think that after these next two books, it will be time to "up my game" once again, and take a chance on something new.