Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday Sale!

So, it's time for my annual Black Friday Sale (which I didn't do last year, due to super-fun-surprise gall bladder surgery). This year, I'm offering paperback copies of Through A Mirror, Darkly and Things Slip Through:

"Lucia's Things Slip Through serves itself up as both a short story collection and a complete, cohesive novel all at once--a chimeric concoction of honest, heartfelt, and truly frightening prose that should not be missed.  Highly recommended." 

Ronald Malfi, Bram Stoker Nominee, author of Floating Staircase

“Literate and stylish, yet fast-paced and accessible, Through A Mirror, Darkly is a thoroughly engrossing read. Kevin Lucia is a major new voice in the horror genre.” - Jonathan Janz, author of The Nightmare Girl

The deal? $8 for one, or two for $15 (includes shipping). I will also send you the ebook for each one you buy, so you can get a head-start reading! Just send me an email at: kevinblucia at gmail dot com!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Giving Patreon a Try, and Why

So I've finally taken the plunge and have decided to give Patreon a try. It's not an attempt to pump folks for cash. I'm not on a quest to write full time. I teach full time and love my job, and my wife works full-time. Although I can't deny that every little bit extra helps, this isn't primarily about the money.

Of course, money is an important factor. For example, you'll notice the proviso that I'm not going to kick the thing off until I reach a minimum of $40 a month. After a frank discussion with my wife, we decided that with the amount of time it takes to write, the time it takes away from family, on top of teaching, it wouldn't be worth it to produce content for less than that. 

We'll see if I get that much. I'm taking a very practical approach to this. Either I'll receive enough pledges to begin writing, or I won't. If I don't, then I'll simply move forward and keep writing and working, and maybe attempt it another time. I'm not going to flog a dead horse, or push a cart that just won't go. Seems like Patreon is a great chance to produce content for readers. Maybe it'll be for me; maybe it won't.

Was I skeptical about Patreon when it debuted? Yes, just like I was skeptical about my work being in ebook. Obviously, I've come around regarding the latter, and I would love to give the former a try.

The remaining question, of course, is why. Essentially, I see lots of potential in my little Clifton Heights mythos. Towns are made up of very different kinds of people. All of these folks have very different kinds of lives, and therefore, very different kinds of stories. I want to know those stories, and I want others to know them, too. Especially folks who have enjoyed the Clifton Heights stories up until now.

Anyway, we'll see if this flies. Again, if not...we'll just keep plugging away, writing every day, as always. Believe me, I would love for it to fly. I really want to see where it'll take us.

Kevin Lucia on Patreon

Pledge $4 a month:

A new short story every month. Could be horror, could be speculative, could be slice of life. 

Pledge $8 a month:A new short story every month, plus one chapter of the serialized story, The Glasses.

Pledge $10 a month:A new short story every month, one chapter of the serialized story The Glasses and a chapter a month of the serialized story, The Last Pitch Before Nightfall.

Pledge $15 a month:All of the above, including the following: if you've followed me for a year, you will receive three trade paperback editions: one collecting my short stories, one for The Glasses  and one for The Last Pitch Before Nightfall. These will be not sold on Amazon, or conventions. You can only get them through here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Advance reviews for "The Rage of Achilles" in HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL

As many of you know, I achieved a milestone this past year selling a Clifton Heights short story "The Rage of Achilles" to Halloween Carnival, a Halloween anthology that will be released weekly through the month of October by Random House/Hydra, then collected in limited hardcover by Cemetery Dance Publications. It's rare I feel completely satisfied with a short story, but this one came about through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and so far, the reaction to it in early Goodreads reviews of Halloween Carnival has blown me away.

I sometimes think what I write isn't really all that "scary." The best I can do, I believe, is to write about what I fear, about stuff I care about, and hope some readers will dig what it is I'm pitching. That's why, when I get feedback like this, it makes me feel like I'm going in the right direction. Check out some of the Goodreads reviews below:

Kevin Lucia's "Rage of Achilles" - Another Clifton Heights tale. I've been visiting this location for a few years now, and its a great place to visit "on page" but I sure as heck wouldn't want to live there! Why Mr. Lucia hasn't been signed up at one of the big publishing houses is a great mystery to me. 

5 Stars - for THE RAGE OF ACHILLES by Kevin Lucia. Oh dear.....a sad and haunting read about loss so all consuming it never really ends.

- ...the story that impressed me the most here was Kevin Lucia's The Rage of Achilles, or When Mockingbirds SingAt first, what started out to be a story of the difficulties of parenting a special needs child turned into a story of such bittersweet pain and love, I thought I heard my heart crack. Beautifully written with prose that cuts straight through your chest, this was the star of Volume 1. 

#1 Favorite: "The Rage of Achilles or When Mockingbirds Sing", by Kevin Lucia. This story takes place in his fictional town of Clifton Hts. For those unfamiliar with Lucia's work, this town is one on the "border" between reality as we know it, and something....else. The residents here have come to accept that their town is unlike others, and the most bizarre occurrences are generally accepted as "common" for them. In this tale, an autistic boy with a love for small china animals, is woven into a story told to Father Ward in a confessional. To say anymore about the story itself, would be giving it away, but I will say that Lucia did a fantastic job evoking just the right emotions. This is one of those poignant tales, where the ending will haunt you long afterward.

Kevin Lucia brings us another Clifton Heights story called THE RAGE OF ACHILLES or WHEN MOCKINGBIRDS SING. Kevin is also one of the editors at Cemetery Dance; I wish he wasn't so busy there. He needs more time to write. I love Clifton Heights and want to visit everyone. In this story, we learn about a young boy who is different from others. I actually don't recall if he used the word, but I think the child was autistic. It was one heck of a Halloween story.

The standout story for me is by Kevin Lucia which reads like an old Stephen King Castle Rock story

Next is Kevin Lucia’s aforementioned “The Rage of Achilles, or When Mockingbirds Sing,” which demonstrates the book’s most impressive example of emotional range, and narrative intuition. Lucia deftly balances a third-person framing device with a first-person description of past events, which builds cleanly toward a painful twist ending. This story is meticulously constructed, full of carefully woven moral conflict—the plotting is a noteworthy achievement in itself, but it’s also worth recognizing that Lucia shows a knack for detailed, nuanced-character building. This is excellent fiction, filled with sincere pathos and a strong sense of psychological observation. For this reviewer’s money, Lucia’s contribution alone is worth the price of admission.

For my story and many great others, pre-order Volume One of Halloween Carnival today.

Monday, May 22, 2017

On Approved Social Media Behavior

So, if you've been living in a cave for the past thirty years, there's this thing called the "Internet." On it, you can look up just about anything (not always such a great thing). On the Internet, there's this thing called "social media." Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Reddit, Ello, Goodreads, Tumblr....the list goes on. You know the drill. You "add" people and enter into/build a community in which you share just about everything: ups and downs in your life, books you're reading, what you're eating, cat memes....just about everything and anything (again, not always such a good thing).

Creative folks jumped right on social media, especially those of the younger generation. It's become, in many ways, the go-to way to spread work about whatever creative work a person is engaged with. If you're a writer, or a fan of writers, you know this drill, also. Authors have websites, they have Facebook Fan Pages, Group Pages, some still have personal pages, they use Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, name it.

Just recently, my publisher asked for whatever pictures I had of me at conventions, signing books or doing "writerly things" for their Instagram account. Yesterday, I interacted with a fellow author's Facebook thread about the importance/effectiveness of Twitter, and how big publishers are very concerned/focused on what social media platforms potential authors utilize. Even more interesting, I was invited to a book-signing at our local Barnes & Noble, and had to fill out a questionnaire, and one of the questions asked about my social media platform, how many followers I had, etc. 

It's all a little mind-boggling. I'm part of this "younger generation" of writers, I guess, (which sounds weird saying at age 43), and I've no problem sharing my work on social media, understanding that an active web presence is important in growing a reader base. However, what often gets frustrating is all the "noise" about how one is supposed to best use social media to grow your reader base, all the 'do's' and 'don'ts'. I remember one article, in particular, with a title reading something like this (I'm paraphrasing from memory): Stop Posting About Your Book Because No One Cares and It Doesn't Help Sales Anyway. Basically, the whole point of the article was that if you're an author and want readers and sales, don't dare post reviews or links to your book, or anything remotely related to your book. Post cat memes and foodies or whatever, and that's all.

Okay, snark aside: there's was some good logic to that article. Basically, your social media presence probably shouldn't be one big "buy my books" stream. Be a real person, basically. Share your interests. Likes and dislikes. The movie you just watched. But it did kinda go hardcore about how sharing your book or reviews doesn't matter, that it was something you shouldn't do.

I see well-regarded, excellent writers posting excerpts of their work. Then I see well-regarded, respected writers mocking those who post excerpts of their work. This is the nature of the social media beast for writers: there are rules, I suppose, but they don't necessarily apply to everyone, yet the folks who have developed these rules for themselves and have been successful following them think we should all abide by them, too.

Facebook Fan Page to avoid stalkers and such, or just use a Facebook personal profile? Should I have created a private Facebook for friends and family, and a separate one for my writing? And who has time to manage all this and still write, especially when I work full time, have a family I'd like to actually be a part of, a wife who needs me, and a special needs son to consider?

Am I supposed to post reviews of my books? I mean, is it okay to get excited when someone likes your work, and share that? I will say I only share the substantial reviews these days, and pass on sharing the one line "Best book evah!" reviews. But even so - do they matter? Do they generate sales? Does it annoy people and make them delete me? I mean, it shouldn't. It says "writer" on my bio. Stands to reason if you add a "writer" you'll get posts about writing, occassionally. And should I care if someone doesn't like it when I post reviews? Wring my hands over potential lost Facebook friends? Who's got the energy or time for that?

And do big publishers and agents care about how I act on social media? I mean, I don't ever talk much about politics on Facebook, because it's too easy for folks to retreat behind their avatars and not enter into an actual discussion, (conservative, liberal, libertarians alike), and I only share the personal elements of my faith (another blog for another time). I don't get into heavy religious matters because, again, FB makes it too easy for folks to shout at each other. Also, I'm not a dogmatic, argumentative person by nature. I have no desire to prove anything to anyone (except that I'm at least an "okay" writer), nor do I have any desire to prove anyone "wrong" or "win" an argument. 

So, I'm not likely to be a scandal risk for big publishers on social media. But do I act "professional" enough? "Authorly" enough? My Dad is on my Facebook ( Hi, Dad!) and on my page he posts pictures of us as kids, or pictures of my Mom (she passed last year), or race car modeling pages. I think it's totally cool. But is it too personal for someone who wants to write in the big time? Maybe publishers won't take me seriously with that stuff on my Facebook page? Is it even worth worrying about it? Maybe it would be, if I got offered a contract? (It should be noted:  I have a Facebook Author Page. If I was asked to use it more by a big publisher who was considering my work, I would.)

And here's the thing: the more energy I spend on these questions, the less energy I have to write. Who wants to write while considering all these things? Who has the time to write something good while creating a huge social media presence? Maybe my reluctance to grapple with these things is just more proof the world of Big Boy Publishing isn't for me (this is, again, assuming I'm good enough to write at that level to begin with).

What's my answer?

I don't know. Basically, I figure, like I said before: it says "writer" on my Facebook bio. So if you add me, I'll talk about writing some. But, I'm a dad, and a husband, a Christian, and a high school English teacher, a rabid reader, someone who tinkers with modeling in the winter, a basketball fan (of my daughter, mostly) a former athlete, an amateur gardener,  a lover of all things genre, (did I mention rabid reader?), and a very random person. You add me on social media, you get all that. You get me, for better or for worse, and I've got just about enough energy for that, and my family, and my job, and my writing. So for now...that'll have to do.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why Do Some Writers "Make it" and Others Don't?

I have no idea.

And it's not like this is a new question. The same question can be applied to all walks of life, all forms of artistic expression, sports, performance pursuits....anything. Also, it's not like I've never asked that question before, here on this blog. 

But as I've said several times, for some reason I find myself brimming with questions about writing and life anew, so here I am again, once more spewing lots of navel-gazing questions on my blog. Hopefully some folks will find all this interesting, probably most won't, and that's okay. Way back when blogging was the "in" thing to do, I realized the only thing I felt like blogging about was stuff I was wrestling with, things with no easy answers to. I wasn't ever going to generate hundreds of blog comments, and sometimes I wonder how many folks actually read my blogs. Whatever - it serves its purpose as a form of catharsis.


Back to the question at hand.

It's something I probably spend way too much time thinking about, obviously because of my own anxieties and insecurities about me "making it" or not. And of course, what does "making it" mean? Writing full time? Receiving popular and critical acclaim? Landing a deal with a big publishing house? Getting an agent? Getting my work optioned for film? Receiving awards galore? Having thousands of readers versus hundreds, or versus dozens, or versus five?

Regardless, the whole thing can seem random, sometimes. Kiss of fate. Granted, there's lots of good, solid advice to follow, pitfalls to avoid, traps to steer clear of. Of course, focus on your craft first. Become a better writer. Word of mouth is the best kind of press, the best marketing. People will talk about what they like.

There's that to consider, too. Talent, I mean. How much better can folks get? I know it's not a popular view these days, but I sorta think Stephen King was right in On Writing: you can make a bad writer fair, a fair writer good, and a good writer great. You probably can't take a fair writer to great, or a bad writer to good, generally.

(ducks to avoid thrown rocks and rotten fruit)

 And there's advice about publishing. Avoid the small press, submit only to agents and big publishers. Start in the small press, but challenge yourself upward. Don't submit to 4theluv or token pay markets, only submit to pro-pay (5 cents a word) markets. Whatever you do with your career is written in stone, and you're screwed otherwise.

Of course, then I always like to think of author Ronald Malfi. His first novel The Space Between was self-published through PublishAmerica. Since then, he's focused solely on the writing - getting better, pushing oneself, writing, writing, writing. He recently finished off a three book deal with Kennsington, one of the big houses. You can't ever hope to copy someone's success, but more than any other author, Ron has served as model to me about what's most important in a writing career: writing and the story. 

I think I'm also pondering all this not only because my own career, but because of my new column Revelations at Cemetery Dance, which examines some of the authors who have been influential in my development and growth as a writer. Some of them hit "the big time" and are still there, some of them were there for awhile and have since receded quietly into the distance (or in some cases, passed on to Brian Keene's Con in the Sky). Some of them "almost" made it to the "big time" and didn't, while others didn't quite - depending on your standards - "make it" at all.


I know it's not necessarily talent. Oh, don't get me wrong - talent is a huge, and by far, one of the biggest reasons for success. There is no "Buddy System" or a cabal  publishing only certain people. Basically, if you write well and hang around long enough, and if word of mouth catches fire....BOOM.

But for some folks, that word of mouth never quite caught. Or maybe they bowed out after only a few novels. Or maybe they more than proved themselves in their short fiction, but never quite wrote a novel that "stuck." Who knows?

Was it by random chance?

Or was it meant to be? In many ways, I feel like I missed the boat. I wrote for years in a closet, never sharing my work or offering it up for critique. I sold one short story in college, and instead of following that up, I didn't submit another short story for nine years. I kept re-writing the first half of a novel for six to seven years. I didn't submit. I didn't get critique. I didn't travel to conventions because in college I wasn't good with money, and never had the money to travel. I think, if I wanted to write full-time, I should've been more committed, and saved my money and traveled to conventions, and made that a goal from the start.

But would I really trade the life I have now for that of a full-time writer? Years of enjoyment teaching, my wife, my kids? I've made no secret of how I believe some things are "meant to be." Maybe that's how things should be for me. Maybe I need that grounding of a full time job, family and kids, and writing full-time wouldn't be a good thing for me.

Or, maybe, I'm just not good enough.

Or savvy enough.

Or committed enough.

Maybe I don't "act right" on social media (another blog for another time). Maybe I don't project the right image for "full time writer."

Heck if I know.

I know I'm fairly happy teaching. I love my wife and kids. I'm happy with my publishing success so far, but want to push it forward and upward.

Will I ever "make it?"

I dunno.

Does it matter?

Some days, no. Other days, however...

I dunno. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Our Continuing Journey on the Spectrum: Kirch Medical Center

* For new followers, my son, Zackary, was diagnosed as severely autistic at age two. Since then, he's been downgraded to moderately autistic, with an added diagnosis this past year of ADHD and Unspecified Anxiety Disorder. For a brief history, visit these posts.

Today we're visiting the Kirch Medical Center in Rochester. One of the resources we've always lacked in Zack's development has been a Developmental Pediatrician specialized in autism. Our family pediatrician has been wonderful and open-minded, and recently helped us in our decision in selecting medication for Zack. However, if it's one thing we've learned in the past ten years, it's that there's no such thing as too many resources as the parent of a special needs child.

The past three years have been filled with struggle, featuring many peaks and valleys. To be fair, we've seen lots of peaks in regards to Zack's personal development. There was a time when we feared he'd never be able to communicate at all. We wondered if he'd ever be able to interact with family and peers. We wondered if we'd ever see a unique and vibrant personality develop. Over the past few years, we have definitely seen that. Zack can be, by turns, witty and smart, caring and empathetic, and he approaches the world from a simple perspective which cuts through all the sometimes mindboggling complications of an adult world. He makes us see and experience the world in ways we probably never would've if he'd be been born "normal."

He's also frightfully intelligent, especially verbally. I'm amazed at the concepts and language he picks up from television, how he contextualizes it and turns around and uses it appropriately in conversation. He knows how to do things with the TV and the iPad WE haven't discovered how to do, yet.

And he loves his family. He interacts with them, plays with them, and knows them. This is perhaps the thing we value most.

We've also experienced peaks in his services. Two years ago, Zack received funding for a community habitation worker - someone who picks Zack up after school and takes him on after school activities. Zack goes bowling, swimming, visits our local Discovery Center and Science Museum, and plays on the playground. He's participated in Special Olympics volleyball, basketball, and bowling. WE can take him bowling now. He loves to shoot around and play HORSE with us. These are things we feared wouldn't be possible eight years ago.

School has been another matter, however, Three years ago, at our district's public school, we started seeing the first incidents of aggression and unfocused anger. At first, we simply thought it was because he needed to be in a more autistic-focused program. So, he switched schools and attended an autism intervention program last year in a different district. Suffice to say, after a decent start, the end of the year devolved into chaos. We clashed with the administration in their discipline choices, his teacher seemed far more concerned about him meeting Common Core standards than intervening regarding his behaviors, and, to put it bluntly, something in that room seemed to be triggering him.

It didn't help that Zack is the size of a burly fourteen year old. When he gets upset, desks get tipped over and things get thrown. People, unfortunately, get hit. Zack had to be restrained several times last year. As someone who used to work with that population and actually did that kind of restraining, I understood. Abby struggled with it, as a mother, especially. She feared for her son's safety.

Another problem: Zack had begun exhibiting additional symptoms not consistent with strict autism, more in line with ADHD and anxiety. This, it seemed, led to his aggression and anger.  We had him reevaluated over the summer, and now ADHD and Unspecified Anxiety has been added to his diagnosis.

Regardless, less year turned slowly into a nightmare. Our final CSE meeting ended with myself and the principal lighting into each other, and Zack's teacher leaving the room in tears. It was decided Zack would move to the Oak Tree center on campus at BOCES. Despite the fact we believed this to be the best choice, we couldn't help thinking this was a step backward.

However, after a much better, calmer, progressive year, we're in a much different place. Zack still struggles with his anger and obstinate behavior, but this year has shown a progression instead of regression, and unlike last year, we have complete confidence in his teacher and support staff. In an instant of serendipity: his monitor and I worked together nearly seventeen years ago, when we were both aides in an autism intervention program. We are completely confident Zack is in a good hands.

We've also reevaluated our  feelings about Zack's future. We would love it, someday, if he could live semi-independently, perhaps take a few classes at Broome Community College. But we've had to really think what's best for Zack, and realize a completely different standard for "success" needs to be used to measure him.

Zack now visits a counselor twice a month. This has been extremely beneficial, as we try to work through some of his anxieties. He also now takes Concerta, which has made a dramatic effect on his daily behavior. And today, we travel to Kirch so he can be evaluated by a developmental pediatrician. We don't know what to expect, but we're hoping we can add another "team member" to help us guide Zack in his journey. Maybe we won't learn anything new. Maybe we'll hear things we already know. Regardless...when you're a special needs parent, there is no such thing as too many resources.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Magical Seats of Inspiration and the Dangers of Isolation

I used to love Barnes & Noble.

During college I practically lived there. Back in those carefree days, I spent hours nestled in a solitary corner, writing and reading. It really became my go-to writing and reading place, along with three others: Ponderosa, Taco Bell and Old Country Buffet.

No, seriously.

I didn't lead a very exciting life, quite frankly. Once my college basketball career ended, I pretty much spent all my time reading and writing. I spent most my five years in college single, and if it wasn't basketball season, I was off by myself, nurturing my writing dreams by either scribbling endless chapters of a never-ending novel into composition notebooks, or blowing an hour or so - literally - at those three restaurants, hanging out and reading and writing. 

Even after I was engaged for two years, I would escape to those places for treasured moments of solitude (I guess that I had to escape from my ex-fiance and her family should've told me something, but alas, I was young and stupid). After I got married (to Abby, and not my ex-fiance) and before kids, or when they were very little, I still spent a lot of time in those places. I have very vivid memories of reading my first Leisure Fiction ARC (Fires Rising, by Michael Laimo), and the first few issues of Shroud Magazine at Taco Bell, wondering if I'd ever get to work with them.

Anyway, I spent many hours in those places, fanning the feeble flames of my dreams. Especially in Barnes & Noble. Back before it remodeled about 18 years ago, they only played quiet classical music and offered plenty of tables to write at it. I had a corner one, as I said...and it was mine. If I showed up to write and someone was sitting there, I'd circle the place like a Great White Shark (okay, a little creepy, I know), until they finally left. For my first book review gig - which paid in contributor copies of the kind of periodical you line cat liter boxes with - I was poor, so I read books at Barnes & Noble for review. I read my very first Stephen King  novel there, Desperation.

After they remodeled they started playing jazz and pop music, but I didn't mind so much (though I liked the classical music better) because they had these WONDERFUL couches and plush leather chairs. You remember those, right? I spent hours in them, reading and writing, and lots of times gave in and bought what I was reading. The summer I wrote the first draft of Hiram Grange and the Chosen One, I split time between Barnes & Noble and the library at my Alma mater, Broome Community College.

And then, one day....

The couches, chairs, and tables....were gone.

Sounds crazy, but this muted my love of Barnes &  Noble. The only place to write were the small little tables in the Starbucks Cafe, and honestly, I've never been that happy with them. They're small, everything's crowded, and it's just not a great space. Ironically, because I've spend much less time there the last few years, I've spent less money there, too.

Of course, I've had to really think about what a "writing space" means the last few years. I realize that in many ways I got a little finicky. Before kids, I "needed" a "special" place to write; usually those places I mentioned. After kids, the need for office space developed. I ended up creating one in my basement, and I wrote there for many years.

The problem was...

I was still escaping.

I didn't realize it, but little by little, I was escaping from my family, from Abby, Madi, and Zack, and hiding out in my office. It was putting a strain on Abby - a subtle one, which I'm not sure she even realized - because it left her alone to deal with Zack, while I was holed up downstairs in my office, writing and reading. This is one the things which came to light when Abby and I decided in August 2015 some serious changes needed to be made.

I took some time off writing.

Separated from my office. And the funny thing is, when I started writing again and the mojo came back,  I realized I no longer needed a "special" place to write, nor did I need to write in my office. I now write every day on the living room couch at 5 AM in the morning, while Abby does her morning devotions in the recliner next to me. I steal bits of writing time at school during library studyhall duty. I'll sometimes scribble some bits down before bed, once again, with Abby by my side.

Writing is a solitary endeavor. It needs to be. The problem with that, of course, is that it's very easy to drift away from those you love most because you've become so absorbed in your solitary writing. 

That doesn't mean I don't get back out to my special places occasionally. But I realize now I don't need those places to write anymore, and I don't need my "office" - although I plan on doing some writing there this summer while Abby's at work and Zack's at summer school. What I need most for my writing is my family - my wife and kids. I love writing. But I love my family more. I need my quiet time to write, but I need to be connected to my family in order to live.

I still read, and write, and dream. But I do it with one hand connected to my family, so I won't drift away, again.