Sunday, March 12, 2023
No Context Post #3
Friday, March 10, 2023
No Context Post #2
Because I like Tombstone.
Thursday, March 9, 2023
No Context Post #1
I'm a firm believer in sucking people into movies and shows with clips or scenes where they have no idea what it's related to or have no idea what happens after said scene. I've often gotten people hooked on The Wire with simple quotes from the show. So, if I can provide a random scene that entices someone to follow up on said show or movie, I've done my part.
I used to do a weekly bit called Fight Scene Friday that tried to do the same thing but it was way too demanding on my time and I ran out of fight scenes available on YouTube I could actually talk to. Mainly, I just ran out of time.
However, below, you'll find two installments in what I hope is the first of many No Context Posts where you'll find a scene or two from a movie or show, want to learn what the fuck happened after, and go watch it. Also, if you think you can do better, go write it.
Scene 1. Apocalypse Now! Of course.
Scene 2. The Hunted. Fuck me if you can't find a better WTF scene and mind scramble yourself into a better potential where is this coming from/where is this going roads.
Monday, March 6, 2023
Cocaine Bear is Cool and All. But Bigfoot Crank Stomp Take Batshit Crazy to Another Level!!!
--EDWARD LEE, author of HAUNTER OF THE THRESHOLD and HEADER
Bigfoot is real and he's addicted to meth!
Cocaine Bear is Good but BFCS is the OG
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Drive-By Review - Small Town Crime
Another movie that slipped under my radar that has everything I like in a movie.
- Very flawed protagonist trying to reassemble his life
- Great cast
- Okay writing
I say okay writing because it's just that. There's nothing memorable about the dialogue or the plot. Which is good. Sometimes simple plots and dialogue that can be easily spat out by a good cast are enough. In this case, both are.
If the plot had been complicated, the movie would've been unwatchable outside of the cast. They keep it grounded and the simplicity of the plot keeps it moving. It's an above-average movie to discover on cable or, in my case, streaming.
The biggest weakness of the flick is the two hitmen. They're not interesting and, for professional killers, they're dumb. But they're not bumbling dumb. They're just stupid. Yet they're not supposed to be, at least the way the film tries to sell them.
In my opinion, they shouldn't have spoken at all. It would have stuck to the overall point of the movie; small simple crimes that fall quickly into extreme outcomes. It would have made them a helluva lot more interesting, too. All they had to be were mysterious vessels of murder.
This is my long way of saying they were overwritten.
Also, the parents of the first murder victim had about as much charm as empty chairs.
Anyway, at about 90 minutes, it's a good watch.
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Demon and Guardian Updates
If you're wondering where links and images to my books Demon and Guardian have gone, well, they've been removed for now.
Because they are no longer for sale. You see, the rights to both have reverted back to me. So, the e-books and paperbacks by the original publisher are no longer available.
That doesn't mean new versions won't be available in the future. It just means they're not available right now.
If you're a publisher and are interested, you can always drop me a line.
More to follow...
Friday, February 3, 2023
Drive-By Review: Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty
If you're following the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh in South Carolina, you've already got a hint of what this docuseries is about. I wasn't following the trial and had no idea what to expect since I was completely in the dark on this one.
What I came away with is:
- Fraud and Corruption
- Dark family history of fraud and corruption
- Fraud and Corruption
- Dark family history of potential murder to fully exploit perpetuated fraud
- Murder, Murder, Murder
- And a bunch of other stuff hinted at but not really explored
In short, it's a fucked up family that's been allowed to wield way too much power and influence. This pretty much happens everywhere where families have been entrenched for a long time. I'm not saying murder and fraud to this level are always involved. But if you've lived somewhere long enough, you start to get the feel of the families that have the most influence and, somehow, someone in their family always seems to get away with murder.
What's different about this one is the spoiled kid who was going to get away with murder might have been murdered by his own dad.
Yeah, fucked up.
What I didn't get and what isn't really explored is why the dad may be going out of his way to protect an older brother who also may have been involved in a different murder but was so willing to kill the youngest son and his wife. The motive doesn't add up, at least how it's presented in this series.
The younger son may have committed drunken boating manslaughter and may have helped cover up the "accident" of another person for insurance money. The older son was being pointed at for potential involvement in beating a gay schoolmate to death. The latter seems way worse, all things considered. Why protect him but murder the other? Not defending murder. But we're supposed to believe the dad decided in an opioid haze that the younger son and wife had to die to protect himself?
In short, the series doesn't do a very good job connecting things. It does do a good job presenting all the misdeeds this family may be tied to.
That being said, it's interesting. If there were some occult aspects introduced, it'd be like a non-fiction True Detective season.
Monday, January 30, 2023
Drive-By Review - The Last Narc
Somehow, I missed this docuseries on Amazon Prime. Being a fan of true crime, history, untold history, and the Narcos series on Netflix, I have no idea how this one flew under my radar.
Maybe because it's on Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime isn't the best at promoting stuff on Amazon Prime for some reason.
Anyway, I have since watched it and come away with two feelings:
1. Why does anyone believe anything at first glance? If the government is involved and multiple agencies are involved, you will not get the whole truth up front. Nor will you get it in any kind of linear narrative.
If you get the whole story, ever, lucky you. And yes, I speak from a position of experience with the government so I have some experience in this field.
2. I don't know why I'm constantly surprised at the level of ties that continue to come up related to Iran-Contra but I shouldn't be anymore. That is a dark pit that has tragedy written all over it and still, not too many people talk about it like they should.
Anyway, I'm not in the mood to get flagged so I'll just say this is a well done, although overly dramatic in parts when it comes to the slow motion footage of people walking. It kept me hooked and provided yet another rabbit hole to go down.
Now if someone would only do a good docuseries on Mena, Arkansas.
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Drive-By Review - Severance
Hey, it's a New Year! Might as well bring back an old thing I used to do around here called Drive-By Reviews. Nothing deep but something worth mentioning.
This week, I finished the first season of Severance on Apple TV+ (and why can't it be simply Apple+? It's not like everyone watches shit on a TV only anymore).
Anyhoo, I watched Severance. And dug the hell out of it.
I'm probably late to the party on this one. But that will be a continuing thing in 2023 for me. Getting caught up.
Well, I watched Severance because I heard good things and I wanted something cerebral, funny, and not overly depressing. I didn't expect a mystery series wrapped up in the the trappings of odd spiritualism and cults. The work place stuff and identity stuff was expected. But the waffle party with the crazy half-naked people dancing in giant cult masks? Not so much.
And thank you!
Love it when a show can surprise you.
Anyway, Severance was very enjoyable, well acted, well written, and, although maybe an episode too long, perfectly paced.
That is all.
Monday, December 19, 2022
Drive-By Update - TREATMENT Now Available on Nook
Whoa, two Drive-By updates in almost as many days. However, same e-book. TREATMENT is now available in another location.
This time it's for Nook.
And check it out: the Nook version has a different cover. How's that for salesmanship?
Sunday, December 18, 2022
Drive-by Update: TREATMENT Now Available as an E-Book on Amazon Kindle
I used to do these things called drive-by updates. Maybe this will be the first of many.
Anyway, my short story TREATMENT is now available as an e-book on Kindle. It's kind of a zombie story. More of a love story. It's also depressing and sad but also has a bit of hope in it. Maybe?
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
The Evolution of Erik Williams's PIGS
Yes, here we are again, talking about one of my previously published works that's now a stand alone e-book. What can I say other than:
- It's my blog to pimp as a I please
- I need to give myself some love cuz who else is gonna?
- Publishing another story gives me another excuse to play with covers and Midjourney
So, here we are. This time around, we're talking about Pigs.
So You Wrote a Story about Pigs? Sounds Delightful
Nah, it isn't exactly about pigs. Nor is it any homage to Animal Farm.
No, this fair story was written back around 2012. I had recently fallen into a rabbit hole of true crime research. A hole I haven't found a way out of. At the time, I was diving deep, deep into Son of Sam and Manson. I was part of a Facebook group that was doing further research on SOS, working with the late Maury Terry. I was also reading a lot about Santa Muerte cults and drug trafficking.
The results of those obsessions include my novel Progeny, my story Dying of the Light (part of the Tales from the Yellow Rose Diner and Fill Station antho), and my story Pigs.
Where Progeny and DotL focused on Santa Muerte stuff, Pigs really delves into the idea of being obsessed with true crime itself. So much so that it may unlock a door into a world you weren't sure you wanted to know about.
The First Go-Round
When I finished Pigs, I sent it to a handful of places for consideration. At the same time, Tom Moran, the publisher of Sideshow Press (who did a lovely limited edition of my novelette The Reverend's Powder) was putting together a new imprint called Gallows Press. Instead of limited editions, the goal was to fill the void that a lot of shuttered mass market horror paperbacks had left.
There were a couple of successful ones already doing the same thing. Places like Deadite Press. And I believe Tom wanted to do the same thing.
To launch the imprint, he put together an antho aptly named The Gallows and asked a bunch of previous writers he'd worked with if they'd be willing to contribute. I had Pigs already done and said, "But of course."
Side Note: The Gallows is a cool little antho with work by a bunch of well-known horror writers like Gene O'Neill, Shane McKenzie, and some asshole named Sam W. Anderson.
Erik Does An E-Book...Briefly
Fast forward to 2015. It's October and I just got downsized from my job. I'm getting five weeks of severance and looking for a new gig. Meanwhile, I figure I need to get my hustle on and start reprinting stuff.
So, having had experience self-publishing through Kindle and always looking to monetize my stuff that I have the rights to, I made an e-book version of Pigs. Even got a cover made by a pro and everything. Here it is:
Now I know, it's not the best cover. Nor does it remotely fit the story. However, it was a premade cover, only cost $35, and I was trying to get my hustle on.
Not surprisingly, I never made the $35 back. Let that be a lesson to you writers.
I think I kept it on sale for a while, forgot about it, pulled it down, put it back up again in 2017 for a small amount of time and then took it down. I took it down to re-evaluate not only the cover but also if it was worth keeping it as a standalone e-book.
Welcome to the Present
I've decided it is worth doing as a standalone e-book because it sure as hell isn't hurting anything.
Unlike my experiments with The Yellow Bug and The Long Bright Descent, I didn't play with the cover for this endlessly. Nor did I post a new cover with the e-book only to redo the cover again and again.
This is not an easy story to capture a cover for. Yes, it deals with true crime but it also tackles a freaky cult whose members like to wear skinned pig's faces as masks. The cover couldn't look like a true crime cover, IMO, but it couldn't look as goofy as the one above.
I wanted something pulpy, with a Hard Case Crime feel but also let you know it was a horror story while capturing a bit of that L.A. feel.
Once I had this:
I felt that was it and could move on without tinkering with it anymore. I also know I'm not likely to do much better on my own using Midjourney and Canva.
Sunday, December 4, 2022
The Evolution of Erik Williams's THE LONG BRIGHT DESCENT
Or: Erik Makes Another New Book Cover
Well, you've heard this story before. Erik has another work of fiction of his that's been previously published and now he's releasing it (again) as an e-book with another new cover because he hasn't quite found one he likes until now...or something like that.
This time, it's for his tale The Long Bright Descent.
What was Wrong with the Other Covers?
First of all, nothing was really wrong with the other covers. They just didn't capture what I was going for or I couldn't get Midjourney to interpret my artistic directions well enough to make me happy.
Put it another way, I was okay with the other versions but I kept tinkering, hoping I'd find something better. I think I have this time.
Where Did it First Appear?
You mean where did it originally get published for money? Well, that would be in the fantastic PEEL BACK THE SKIN anthology from Grey Matter Press back in 2016.
It's also the story Shane Douglas Keene, in his review of the antho for This Is Horror, said,
"It’s an expertly written, fast paced and entertaining tale of two ancient beings that clash in an eternal struggle for the survival of humanity."
Oh, and it also was an Honorable Mention for Ellen Datlow's YEAR'S BEST HORROR, 2016.
What's it About?
The Long Bright Descent? You read the above quote, right?
Well, it's a modern tale about two people that must engage in some form of challenge each and every night. The challenge is a choice between a chase or a battle of wits. If the result is a victory for our good guy, the world continues and the challenge is engaged again the following evening. If our good guy loses, the world ends.
If it sounds familiar to you, something out of Egyptian mythology set in our modern time, you'd be correct.
What about the Cover?
The cover was tough. I kept going with this theme of driving into the sunset since both sunsets and cars play significant roles in the story. Below are my attempts in order:
The New Cover
Notice I call it the new cover, not the final cover. As my experiment with The Yellow Bug has taught me about myself: I will continue to noodle these.
At least this one has the characters better represented, crossing a modern feel wit an ancient supernatural one.
Or it could suck. But I like it.
Sunday, November 20, 2022
The Evolution of Erik Williams's THE YELLOW BUG
UPDATED!!! - Or: Why Erik Keeps Fucking Around with his Short Horror Story THE YELLOW BUG
I lied. I thought I was done but then Midjourney did some updates and I figured I'd play a little more and this was the result. I think it's the best yet.
And since the story is about transformation, also fits the story the most.
Anyway, that's the latest, and hopefully last, cover.
Well, I'm not really fucking around with the story of The Yellow Bug itself. The story remains the weird, creepy, horrific little tale it's been since first being published in the wonderful MADHOUS anthology.
No, I've mainly been fucking with the cover art and the e-book layout.
That's a nice way of saying I've been experimenting with The Yellow Bug in an attempt to:
1. Teach myself more stuff when it comes to being self-sufficient publishing my back catalogue of short stories
2. Realize when something isn't working or sucks and correct it (in this case, a history of bad covers by yours truly)
3. Learn what's working and isn't working out there in e-book sales land (which seems to be wholly the domain of Kindle more and more every day)
So far, I've learned it's nice to be able to do this stuff on your own, especially with a previously published short story you've already been paid for. It's also nice to be able to do it on your own and not throw money down the toilet on cover design, etc.
Erik Reflects on His Lack of Sales and Blames Others
Now you might says, "Hey, it's not throwing money down the toilet."
Well, that would be true if sales were awesome but one thing I've learned in over a decade of playing with e-book publishing: those awesome days of badass sales are long gone. It's an oversaturated market. And unless you've got a name, a following, or great word-of-mouth, good luck standing out in that pile of shit known as self-publishing (which used to be called the pile of shit known as the slushpile).
And I'm not just knocking self-publishing. E-book sales from big publishers aren't great either. Haven't been for a while. Unless you've got a name, following, or great word-of-mouth.
This isn't me being negative. It's just reality. And I'm okay with it. I was there at the beginning and had my awesome sales years. Now, Kindle and whatever competitors there are out there aren't shiny and new anymore. Hell, I'm willing to bet audiobooks are doing far better than e-books based solely on how popular podcasts are and the amount of money Amazon has sunk into promoting Audible.
Then again, a shitty cover or cover art for a previously published short horror story isn't going to help sales either. Besides, experimenting with covers is fun (for me at least).
But what the hell does this have to do with The Yellow Bug? It's a short horror story that's already been professionally published in a well regarded anthology. And I got paid for it! Why blather about it here? What gives?
Eh, not much. Other than to point out it's not a new short story nor a new e-book. Just a short story of mine I'm fond of with a new cover and I think it deserves more attention so I keep playing with the cover and such to see if it'll get any traction on its own one day.
But if it doesn't, like I said, I've already been paid for it so it's not like I've lost money on it.
When and where did I get paid?
Good question. Have I already mentioned MADHOUSE?
MADHOUSE: An Illustrated Shared World Psychological Horror Anthology
The Yellow Bug first appeared in the professional horror anthology MADHOUSE, edited by Benjamin Kane Ethridge and Brad C. Hodson and published by Dark Regions Press way back in 2016. It's a great book with a cool concept with a bunch of crazy stories by some badass writers.
I like to believe I'm one of them. The name's Erik Williams for you search engines out there.
Anyway, since then it's only appeared as a stand alone e-book and only since mid-2021. I considered trying to get it reprinted but said, "What the hell?" and went the e-book route.
Erik Decides to be Self-Sufficient (Or Cheap and Lazy, Both Work)
This was about the same time I discovered Canva and decided to learn the ropes of cover design and such.
Of course, I didn't want to pay for the PRO subscription so got good at using all the free stuff, which resulted in a shitty lame first cover attempt by your truly. Again, the name is Erik Williams, Google.
Yeah, that's a lot of "yellow". So much so you can barely read anything. Based on the font, and shade, I think I was going for a sepia/Western look.
Well, that had to be fixed, of course, which lead to this:
Hey, you can read the title and my name now! Of course, the background looks like sand soaked in oil or fresh asphalt. But who cares? You can read them words now!
But it still sucked. At the same time, I completely lost track of The Yellow Bug and it's woeful cover because LIFE!
I started freelance writing fulltime. Which meant there was no room for fiction adventures whatsoever.
Erik Remembers the Terrible Cover and Makes More Terrible Covers
So, the cover remained. And so did my non-existent sales.
Then a few months ago, I discovered Midjourney and started playing with AI art and figured, "Hey, let's see if the AI thingy can put together a trippy cover with surreal shit and stuff in it.
Well, here's what the AI threw at me for some ideas:
Now personally, I kinda like them all. But I'm also fucking weird and have always liked weird cover art. I almost went with the top left but asked the AI for more ideas.
It came back with the below and I dug it. So much so I made it the cover. But after a couple months, it's okay to wonder who the fuck wants to buy a book with this cover? The answer is no one and I can't fault them for it.
Yes, I dig it, but, again, I'm a weird mofo. Also, I have to admit, the bug looks like some surreal hay-demon coming out of a freshly mowed field. Not exactly the desert bug demon of my short horror story.
Although it may work in an ad for allergy medicine.
Erik Realizes the Cover Should Reflect the Work
Anyway, no one wanted to buy it. Which led me back to Midjourney's AI to do some more playing. I figured this time I'd better, you know, add some more realism to the cover other than a freaky yellow hay-demon. So, at the top of this post, and right below, is the latest attempt. I think it's more grounded but also has that bizarre, creepy feel with that big bug eye staring at our poor veteran lost in the desert (a central plot point, of course).
Maybe this cover will be the last, maybe not. The AI technology keeps improving and it's fun to play with so I can't guarantee this is it. However, I can say this one "fits" the story more than any others. So there's that.
Anyway, that's the story behind the evolution of the cover art for my short story The Yellow Bug. Available now. When the cover change again? TBD.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
GENERAL GORDO'S STRANGE REQUEST Now Available on Kindle with New Cover
***UPDATED with new cover***
Yes, another short story where I had fun updating the cover art. That is all.
My short story GENERAL GORDO'S STRANGE REQUEST is now available on Amazon for Kindle. Yes, that's another short story that is it's own e-book. And yes, it is also only $0.99.
Unlike my other stories, this one is funny. Yes, there may be severed head talk, but still funny.