Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Muy Mal - MUY BUENO!


I jumped in to check this project out right from the start and MUY MAL is rockin'! Stop by and visit Weston Ochse, John Urbancik and Michael Oliveri at Muy Mal to read some GREAT fiction...and it's FREE! And to let you know the quality of storytelling going on at Muy Mal, Weston Ochse just won The Horror Writers' Association's coveted Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel!!
Here's what the Muy Mal guys say about their project:

"So what is Muy Mal? We're glad you asked.

"Muy Mal is a shared world created by Michael Oliveri, John Urbancik, and Weston Ochse. It's a world very much like our own, similar in time and place, but just about thirty degrees off of reality. This is a world in which magic never ceased to exist; a world that is a very bad place.

"Each writer will explore their own corner of this world, though readers can expect some crossover between tales. Characters may make cameo appearances, for example, and major events will affect every story. This is not collaboration so much as it is cooperation, and readers will be welcome to witness as much or as little of the world a they see fit.

"Each story will be serialized, and each writer may spread their work across several serialized pieces at a time. An overall title serves as an umbrella for each writer's work, and each individual tale will carry its own title as it unfolds chapter by chapter. These titles are:

Chronicles of the Black Bishop by Weston Ochse
Asphalt & Alchemy by Michael Oliveri
Seeker by John Urbancik

"Muy Mal is also an experiment in the delivery of online fiction. Thanks to the power and flexibility of WordPress, the stories will be accessible in a familiar, blog-like structure where each new chapter will appear at the top of each writer's section. Similarly, links will be available so readers may drill down and focus on specific serials. There will also be RSS feeds for each author so readers can pull content directly to their feed reader rather than visit the main site.

"Finally, Muy Mal's contents are Free. All of the work posted to the site is licensed under a Creative Commons license, specifically the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 license. In English, this means readers are welcome to download and/or print the stories out to their heart's content. Give copies to friends and neighbors! We don't care, so long as the work is presented with bylines of the respective writer, it's not altered, and not used commercially." --From Muy Mal

I hope you enjoy, Muy Mal. Be sure to tell 'em, Fran Friel sent ya'!

And when you're done with the Muy Mal guys, stop by for the latest offerings of Fresh Meat for June from my T12 colleagues, including my own story - part one of Fine Print. As always, the reading is FREE at The Horror Library.

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words!

Happy Father's Day!

Great pics borrowed from Slate.

© Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos

BROOKHAVEN, N.Y.—The first minutes of a baby’s life, 1958.
© Eve Arnold / Magnum Photos

TBILISI, Georgia—A bus stop, 1972.
© Martine Franck / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK—Harlem, 1956.
© Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos

JERUSALEM—At home in Mea Shearim, 1967.
© Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos

BOUGIVAL, France—1956.
© Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

TAIWAN—A bride and her father on her wedding day, 1997.
© Chien-Chi Chang / Magnum Photos

ARMENIA—On the shore of Lake Sevan, 1972.
© Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK—1983.
© Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos

I do love my dad, too!

May my dad and all the fathers across the world feel the love today and everyday...

Fran Friel

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fear: Help or Hindrance?

Fear: Help or Hindrance?

In one of my other lives before writing, I spent a decade and a half as a holistic therapist. Consequently, I also spent years in therapy myself. One of the things I learned is that you can't go with your client, where you're unwilling to go inside yourself. The same thing holds true for writing. If a writer isn't willing to explore their own fears or the dark side of their thoughts and feelings, their characters and stories will often lack depth.

At his blog, Dar Kush, Best Selling Author, Steven Barnes writes about Fear:
"A story is about the moment when someone changes. When their life change[s]. One door closes, another opens. And traversing that emotional territory is terrifying. Any event powerful enough to force a change in our habits or personality is going to trigger fear…the only question is what will we do with that fear.

"Some people run from the fear, some are paralyzed by it, others energized. But make no mistake: if your character is not afraid to take the next step in your story, you have given her a trivial challenge, one that will depend on the cleverness of your writing rather than the honesty and depth of your characterization."--Steven Barnes, Dar Kush

Transformation is what most readers hunger for, and generally expect from a story. They want to take the protagonist's journey vicariously. If they just wanted to go to the deli for a pleasant chat and a bagel, they could do that on their own. But going to the deli arm in arm with your character to secretly meet their online lover; or visiting the deli to discover that their old friend Bert the sandwich guy's toupee has slipped and he has an extra eyeball on his scalp, these scenarios present the enticing "What if's". The reader wants a dilemma, and they want the main character to struggle with this dilemma and come out on the other side changed in someway for better or for worst.

To present a compelling "What if" dilemma, a writer has to be willing to go where the character needs to go, and that's not always a comfortable place. But if the writer is willing to explore their fears and dip into their own dark places (which we all indeed have!), that juice will serve to bring the characters to life and make for an exciting romp of a story.

Life itself is often tedious and downright boring. It's the extremes that make us sit up and notice. The same goes for fiction, art and music. If Beethoven had avoided his darker passion and written all Adagio movements, we would never have had the powerful Duhduhduh-Dahhh! opening of the Fifth Symphony. And what would the world of scary things be without Thomas Harris's, Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter? Just imagine the places Harris had to go for that one.

So as a reader, how deep do you like to go? As a writer, how deep are you willing to go? One of my favorite writing teachers, Terri Brown-Davidson, always encouraged me to "write to the bone." Along with that potent image, there was my in-house critic, my husband Paul, who dutifully read my stories, but usually rolled his eyes saying, "That's nice, hon, but it needs something more." I have finally listened to them both and dipped into my fear, setting aside my worry that people will think I'm a psycho. Now I'm leaning in deeper with the blade of my words, and not only are my readers responding with gasps and giggles, it's oh so much fun!

If you're hungry for a taste of some "to the bone" fiction, you'll find the latest offerings of Fresh Meat for June from my T12 colleagues, including Fine Print by yours truly, Fran Friel, FREE at The Horror Library.

Thanks for reading!

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Miss Snark Makes My Day!

From the indomitable, Miss Stark, the literary agent...today, she is my hero. Thank you Bev Vincent for the tip!

When Are You Going to Write A "Real" Book?-UPDATED!!

"Most Awful One,

"A misguided friend recently asked me when I'm going to write a "real" book (aka literary fiction). I responded with an attack on his personal life, and I believe that ended our friendship. I'm not terribly upset over the loss, needless to say.

"I expect this question to come up again, as my social circle includes some rather pretentious artists and intellectuals. The worst of them provide the best comic fodder, so I don't wish to excise them from my life. I'd like to be prepared with a classier come-back, something snarky but proper. Do you have any suggestions?"

1. I'd love to write literary fiction but my agent flat out refuses to stop making money on my work.

2. It's a good thing you are handsome, because your manners are butt ugly.

3. I leave the pretentious naval gazing to people better trained for the job.

4. I'm purposely avoiding writing anything that will be of interest to you.

5. How kind of you to show an interest in my career. Are you asking because you need a loan?

6. I'm reserving the great novel for when I need to lower my taxable income.

7. Literary fiction tends to be attractive to people I don't much care to be around.

8. I had to sign a non-compete when I stopped being Thomas Pynchon's ghostwriter. He's very fussy about those things .

9. Yanno, that's exactly what someone asked Stephen King three days before he received the National Book Award for outstanding contribution to American letters.

10. Right about the time you get your head out of your analogous.

and...culled from the comment tail, a NEW and wonderful addition:

11. Did you drop out of charm school or were you just asked to leave quietly?

(let's all remember Miss Snark does not actually detest literary fiction in case you were thinking this was a reflection of her own true feelings)

Thank you, Miss Snark. Because of you, we're ready and armed for the next family gathering or party with "friends."

And if you're hungry for some hot-off-the-press fiction while you're armed and waiting for that next family barbecue, you'll find the latest offerings of Fresh Meat for June from my T12 colleagues, including Fine Print by yours truly, Fran Friel, FREE at The Horror Library.

Thanks for reading! And be sure to leave me a comment to let me know you've stopped by. Feedback is like manna...

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Very REAL Threat...

There's a very REAL threat to YOUR Freedom of Speech on the Internet!

From SaveTheInternet.com:

"Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment -- a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you -- based on what site pays them the most. If the public doesn't speak up now, our elected officials will cave to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign."

NOW just did an excellent program on net neutality/freedom of speech last week. We will indeed be seriously screwed if this effort by the telecommunications companies succeeds. We need to stay vigilant.

Go here to view the show from PBS - Tangled Web

Don't miss participating in this discussion, gang. We all depend on the internet for our work these days, and it is indeed under serious assault for freedom of speech - our bread and butter.

It's easy to participate! Take two minutes and Contact Congress Right Here, Right Now!

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Which Sector is Shaun From?

Shaun Farrell is from the Far Sector!

Yes, that's right, the Far Sector. But don't worry, he's still in this galaxy. Well, if you call MySpace a place in this galaxy, than you're good to go. That's where I found him anyway, and I was very pleasantly surprised to also find links from his excellent author interviews for Far Sector - a Professional Web-Only Magazine of Speculative and Dark Fiction.

Shaun dazzled me in an interview with Paul Levinson, author of The Plot to Save Socrates. I've enjoyed conducting a few interviews myself, but Mr. Farrell makes it look a whole lot easier than it really is, but more importantly, he makes the interviews a pleasure to read.

And no, he's not paying me to say these things. In fact, he's one very humble guy and a joy to chat with. I guess that's one of the things that makes him such a good interviewer. I've discovered he does book reviews, as well. His latest at Far Sector, is The Anubis Gates, a fantasy novel by Tim Powers.

There's a lot to discover at Far Sector, including Shaun's recent interview with NY Times Best Seller, Kim Harrison. She talks with Kim about her fourth Rachel Morgan novel, A Fistful of Charms. And Shaun also has a conversation with Nick Sagan, astronomer and son of Cark Sagan, about his novel, Everfree.

And of course there's much to be found at Far Sector, but that should wet your appetite for now.

Enjoy the feast!

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Along with the latest offerings of Fresh Meat from my T12 colleagues, read Fine Print by Fran Friel, FREE at The Horror Library.

note: The photo (lower right) is of Shaun and the master, Ray Bradbury. Both photos in the above article have been borrowed courtesy of Shaun Farrell's photo collection at MySpace.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Bloody Good Review of the BSQ!
by Fran Friel

If you haven't already noticed, the HL's own Boyd Harris has thrown his fedora into the arena of publishing. His new small press company, Cutting Block Press, has been busy promoting the Terrible Twelve's own anthology, The Horror Library, Volume 1, and a fine collection of dark novellas, The Butcher Shop Quartet. With a successful debut of the books at the 2006 World Horror Convention, lots of folks are taking note of the work of The Horror Library's authors and their friends.

The Butcher Shop Quartet recently received a very favorable review from Scott A. Johnson at The Horror Channel, giving it a 4 Mugs O'Blood out of 5 for its rating. Yeah, Mugs O'Blood beat Thumbs Up any day...that is unless the thumbs are severed, but I digress.

Scott A Johnson wrote:
"While all the stories in this collection are well written and deserving of praise, two shine over the others. "The House on the Hill" and "The Reconstruction of Kasper Clark" represent the best of this collection through the authors' smooth prose and ability to tap into the emotions of the readers. In the first case, it is the subtle underplayed horror and the questions left thereafter that makes "The House on the Hill" such a great read. In the second, every ounce of ridiculousness is played with tongue firmly in place in cheek, giving this pitch-black comedy enough of a toothy bite for any horror fan. "

For the complete review, visit The Horror Channel Reviews. Be sure to get your own copy of The Butcher Shop Quartet to see what the bloody fuss is all about. Available directly from Cutting Block Press or from fine booksellers like Shocklines.com.

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Along with the latest offerings of Fresh Meat from my T12 colleagues, read Fine Print by Fran Friel, FREE at The Horror Library.

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