Writing and the Morality Shift

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2013 by royalmanaball

When you write, you will find yourself inside of a pigeonhole no matter if you are indie or self-published. And it’s not just with the Big Six, folks.

I am known for my YA saga, The Ancients and the Angels. Although the content of these volumes may be dark and unpleasant at times, no blue language is printed, and all of the sex is “offscreen.” There’s tons of violence and vomit in them, though, but parents just don’t seem to give a crap about this. Whatever.

As anyone in this business understands; a writer writes. In a recent blog post by my friend and fellow scribe, Ksenia Anske, she examines the topic of writing and “genre-jumping.” I say, “go for it!”

The burning question is whether this is good for an author’s business acumen. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t really seem to matter much as long as the work is solid. C.S. Lewis who was renowned for his children’s literature, had written remarkable nonfiction tomes on religious philosophy. Philip K. Dick would alternate between out-of-this-world sci-fi versus weird dramas that criticized Nixonian America. J.G. Ballard took a 180 route with The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash from his more conventional sci-fi offerings.

Writing is an art and an artist is going to explore and you won’t stop this process. I simply cannot write YA and nothing but it forever. Sure, my elves and angels will return, I promise you this, but for the rest of this year, I have the uncontrollable urge to delve into the realm of Bizarro.

This stuff is NOT for children. Already, one of my short stories entitled Conduct Disorder has been green-lighted (lit?) for inclusion into James Ward Kirk’s horror anthology Serial Killers Tres Tria. The piece is nothing less than revolting and cruel. Now, I’m not that kind of a person, and there still remains a strong moral ethos to this tale, but I just took the dark alley (very dark) to get there with this ditty. And it works! So, did anything really change?

Look at it this way; many actors of children’s films extend their feelers into other areas of cinematography. After all, Anne Hathaway of The Princess Diaries has shown the world her boobs plenty of times. Oh, the horror!

Yo, my bewbs rawk!

Yo, my bewbs rawk!

It may sound like I am apologizing here. I am not. No artist should ever apologize for their product. You are responsible for it, sure, but you are also the one who had invested so much time and energy into making it in the first place. Yes, you may get egg on your face when you throw the masses a curve ball, but responsibility is the first phase of accountability. Just take that accountability like a good Scout and be prepared for it.

The bottom line is that genre hopping can involve a moral shift in content. As a writer, you will have to be brave enough to venture into places unknown, and sometimes, they’re bad neighborhoods.

That’s all I’ve gotta say about that.

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Author Spotlight – Gina Ranalli

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2013 by royalmanaball

Once again, I delve into the land of Bizarro with another talented writer in that oddball, new literary movement.

Gina Ranalli is a female presence in a literary genre that has not many representing it. Don’t get me wrong, Bizarro isn’t a boy’s club by any means; it is populated with a few bold women like Athena Villaverde, C.V. Hunt and Constance Ann Fitzgerald, but as of 2013, the ladies are in the minority here. So, to any of my fellow female writers following Royal Manaball: Write Bizarro!

I’ve been following Ms. Ranalli’s work for a while now and I can’t recall how or why I began reading her tales. Perhaps it was the cool cover art, or maybe just the Amazon synopsis, but after beginning with House of Fallen Trees, I was hooked.

Gina Ranalli: Bizarro Central

Gina Ranalli: Bizarro Central

There are many themes and idiosyncrasies that glue her catalog together. Sometimes they are subtle, other times they are quite overt, but any which way, these topics are always subverted.

Gina tends to examine feminism with a sober and somewhat detached style of writing, almost as if to say, “Yeah, sure, this is feminist, but do we have to focus on that?” I find it a bit refreshing that her ability to handle gender politics is subdued and, at times, lovingly poked fun at. This humor, and Ranalli is a master at crafting humor, helps normalize issues of gender politics and ultimately, makes the concept inviting and fun to outsiders – the way it should be!

Children are another one of Gina’s pet topics. For the most part, if you’re a kid in a Ranalli book – you’re evil. It’s true, kids can be cruel, but this author can take the concept of childhood cruelty and make it horrifying, even apocalyptic in some cases.

Ranalli’s books usually feature a protagonist who is somehow in a minority population, be it sexual orientation, gender, race, creed, etc. What is interesting to me is how we may not find out this information until halfway through the book. It’s a detail that is dropped casually and organically – again, the way it should be!

Bottom line: Ranalli doesn’t like preaching and she doesn’t like to do the preaching either. The aforementioned subtleties this author employs to convey her messages and subtexts take quite the skill to render in such a way. Sure her books may be loaded, what ones aren’t, but these don’t blow up in your face and get in the way of entertaining, scary, weird (and they are weird) tales.

Some highlights to Ranalli’s catalog include:

Praise the Dead: This is a zombie book, but zombies are just incidental here. The real monster is the evil, little sociopath who started it all. Andrew Perry is so foul and obnoxious as a child who can raise the dead – into shambling flesheaters. Gina illustrates him as this morbid, little Howdy Doody, who, ironically, is the puppet master here as he marches down the streets leading his cannibalistic horde. I think Perry is one of my top ten villains in books thus far.

Mothman Emerged: C’mon, you know I love cryptids – Mermaids, Sasquatch, the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. Here, Ranalli focuses not on the tired, old fare of vampires and werewolves, but the Mothman. Eh, not just a mothman, but more like an infestation of them. After a bit, no where in Lockwood, Washington is safe from these beasties, and let me tell you – they bite. HARD! Although it is gory, the language is kept to a minimum and any sexual content is “offscreen.” This book is fine for the YA market.

Mother Puncher: Once again, children are the villain here, but not any one child, just the concept of being born in an overpopulated world is shamed. In order to bring down that shame, “mother punchers” are employed to punch the parents of the newborn right in the hospital on the day of delivery. Problems arise for State-sponsored mother puncher Ed Means when professional rivalry threatens his very livelihood and family. This contest ends up getting out of hand – way out of hand.

Wall of Kiss: This novel features a woman who just can’t seem to get it right. Eventually she snaps and falls in love with a bare wall in her living room. No, I’m not kidding – and Ranalli makes this work! The featured woman’s descent into madness is so well-crafted and believable that you can’t help but turn the page to see what messed-up thing she’s going to do next. By the way, this character is seriously ill and does not hide her hallucinations from the general public. Just like Mother Puncher, what begins as a wee barleycorn of trouble blooms into an over-the-top hurricane.

House of Fallen Trees: God, I LOVED this! First off, it takes place on a pirate ship in the middle of a forest. How cool is that? As bizarre as that seems, there is a logical explanation to it which is the crux of this remarkable ghost story. The characters here are so naturally rendered, that I cannot help but think of mumblecore horror films like The Innkeepers or House of the Devil. Speaking of which, I loved this book so much, it would be a dream to see Ti West direct the film version. Subtle, quiet horror with a deafening ending.

Suicide Girls in the Afterlife: I enjoy any books that dare to imagine an afterlife. There is such a wellspring of imaginative options for a writer with this milieu at hand. So, what happens when you are a couple of emo girls who commit suicide (well, one kinda does, but didn’t really mean to)? I can’t give away too much here, but the Afterlife is a flying hotel and Jesus smokes a lot of weed.

These are just a few offerings from this prolific writer and she continues to produce on a regular basis. I’ll be sure to get Brainfused Colorwheel next.

In Response to Ksenia Anske.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2013 by royalmanaball

Ksenia Anske, author of The Siren Suicides, due in July, had just posted a blog in regards to the time-honored kerfuffle of how one can write a book – Pantsing versus Plotting.

Truth be told, I had just learned of the term “pantsing” last month. No foolin’. For those not in-the-know, it means to “write from the seat of your pants.” Not necessarily stream-of-conscious, but damn close.

Ach… how do I do it? Hmm… Well, when I had written Celestials, I did begin via pantsing, I suppose, but I soon found myself having to keep a “playbook.” This is basically an outline for your plot and a poopsheet for your characters. Now, I don’t mean you have to write everything that is in the bellboy’s closet that won’t even remotely be mentioned in the narrative, but it does file down some of the basics. What they do look like and, most importantly, what they do and don’t know.

I had managed my playbook in a very pantsing style, however. Things would develop and I would outline it as I went along. Remember, your characters are going to wind up writing the story for you eventually. No, they really will, and thus, the plot may change. Does this make me a pantser?

A typical writer's butt.

A typical writer’s butt.

Research. I do it. Only when I need to, though. If I have some sort of technical question, the wonderful world of the Interwebz will fulfill my need in a jet-flash. No excuse for technical inaccuracies anymore.

Normally, I’ve always thought of myself as a plotter, but I think I do rely on the wind to carry me more so than I imagine. My proofer and my editing phases or “passes” (I never think of them as “drafts.” I just don’t), take care of everything from the major transgressions to the minor peccadillos. MS Word is vertical, and I figure my process in a linear fashion.

Ksenia writes that she produces no less than two thousand words a day. I’m pretty much on base with her. During this principal production phase (my first “draft”), I write and write and do so simply via the little animated cartoons going on in my imagination.

That’s easy for me since I am, by trade, a graphic designer. Visual play is second nature to me, so as long as the film keeps rolling in my head, I can translate that into written drama.

I am not educated in English or Comp. Lit. or Creative Writing – nothing like that. Big University styles and shibboleths are more or less unknown to me. Because of this, I don’t kvetch for hours on end over, “It t’was the Schooner Hesperus! No, no. It WAS the Schooner Hesperus…”  Sure, I enjoy a certain beat or music to my writing, but I just let that come as it does and edit out the chaff during a later “pass.” Resting upon this knowledge, I just tap away during principal production and this does make the words flow in an easier fashion for me. I won’t stop until I hit that goal, because this is my job like any other and I’m not allowed to punch out early.

Due to this semi-pantsing process, if someone doesn’t enjoy my final “gold-phase” product, well, that’s just a question of that reader not liking my style. There’s plenty of styles out there and far more readers.

Coming Up

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2013 by royalmanaball

Hello, everyone!

Been a bit scarce lately, but I have been busy with numerous short story submissions to various anthologies. I know, you might think, “You’ve tapped out two novels! Why short stories?” Here’s why:

I love anthologies. Sure, they are collections of short stories and flash where you aren’t treated to thick plots chock-full of an orchestra of characters, but sometimes, a short story can be so fun to write. I suppose it’s like sharpening your teeth for a Main Event, but they are what they are. Although I might be a bit old school when it comes to the publishing game, I have normally found new authors whom I love via these collections. And, damn it! I just want to be in one.

Already, I have been accepted into The Apocalypse Collective’s anthology Echoes of the Wasteland. My editor Michel King has been great and I would love to work with her again in the future. She’s a whip-cracker, but you will be assured a tight product. My story is called Petey Says. Like most of everything I write, this one is pretty dark, but contains no humor whatsoever. Kinda sad, actually. Michel said she cried while reading it. You might too.

After that, I have just submitted a shorty, Holiday in Modal City,  for the Neverland’s Library Anthology of Rediscovery. This is a fantasy-based, nature-themed ditty featuring a heavy use of Hindu mythology. I really want to get into this collection. Like, really bad. Please cross your fingers, guys.

William Cook is a master of the horror genre. His upcoming anthology “Fresh Fear” focuses on quiet, psychological horror. I am waiting on the scoop for my submission entitled Unholy Mortal Sin. The terror in this tale is the horrible life and mind of the featured protagonist. Sometimes real life is the worst terror of all. You’ll see.

Currently, I am working on a short called Conduct Disorder for horror maven James Ward Kirk’s anthology Serial Killers Tres Tria. It’s Mr. Kirk’s third installment of his serial killer series and, let me just say, this yarn is rough! Imagine what happens if you are born into a family of rich Satanists and you finally get Barbie’s Dream House for Walpurgisnacht when you are a little girl. Yeah… Total shit-storm.

Speaking of James Ward Kirk, I’d like to give a shout-out to my friend and fine Briton David Eccles whose story Doing it for JRD (Justice, Revenge and Deliverance), has just been greenlighted into Kirk’s anthology Sex, Drugs and Horror. It’s NASTY and raw and will hit the shelves in July. Good job, David!

As promised, I will be releasing my own anthology of shorts, flash and prose called Everybody Must be Crushed around November or December. It’s a collection of Bizarro tales focusing on the prevalent culture of anger pervading the 2010’s. Totally sarcastic and weird, these stories will make you say, “Huh?”

Not one of these submissions are YA-friendly, but, you know? I have gotta do what I have gotta do.

I’ll keep you posted to my progress, and whatever the outcome, I’ll keep writing. Thank you, guys.

Author Spotlight: ME! M.C. O’Neill (Thanks to Lada Ray)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2013 by royalmanaball

Hey, Manaballers. I just have to say that I’ve been needing to give the old Royal Manaball more love, but May has been hectic and everything happens all at once, you know? Short story submissions, Novel releases and formatting, and, as always, editing.

Whatever. The work paid off and the tree bringeth me fruit. In my one year of first being published, I’ve had such an amazing experience. Two novels under my belt. Interviews on The Vinny Eastwood and Jeff Daugherty Shows. Interviewed by THEE Maria DeVivo, author of the Amazing Coal Elf (which is soon to be a series of books). A spotlight on the Silver Bullet Sunday, Flash fiction published by the Stephen King of Canada – James Roy Daley, as well as work published in the blog Writing Upside-Down (a big favorite of mine).

Need I brag more? Well, yeah I do. The astounding paranormal author Lada Ray, who pens the mighty Earth Shifter series AND it’s ancillary series The Earth Keeper, actually blogged an Author Spotlight on me! It’s so cool. You can read it right here.

How ya like me now? Photo credit: Indigo Moran

How ya like me now? Photo credit: Indigo Moran

I can’t find the words to thank her enough! It’s a big highlight for me and I am forever grateful, mainly because she is a visionary and a forerunner of the YA Revolution. As many of you may know, the YA Revolution is a collection of YA writers who are driving this reader demographic toward the light and away from that trite nonsense which gluts the market (and may bottom it out) this very day. We aim to hold line – by doing something new.

YA Revolution!

YA Revolution!

Well, I’m going to take the rest of the day off because I need to reboot my brain. You do know that I’m a cyborg? But that’s okay!

Speaking of cyborgs, I just read a book about Mr. T who became a cyborg zombie. No foolin’. It had the funniest line of dialogue in literary history: “Don’t give Mr. T. no jibber-jabber! Lemme eat them brains, fool!”

Archons Now Available!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2013 by royalmanaball

Folks, I have just gotta say that it has been a busy two weeks, so, sorry to be so scarce. Launching a new novel can be a daunting task. Last-minute edits, checking and double-checking. Oh, and then I had to design TWO book covers.

Anyway, with that being said, I now present unto you The Ancients and the Angels: Archons!

archons logo final2The saga continues as we follow Quen’die Reyliss and company. If you thought Celestials was dark, this one is even more so. Not only is it available on Amazon, but you can also find it on Smashwords.

On a grand note, Celestials is now available on Smashwords too! Finally! It had to happen. Check out this cool new cover to the e-book version!

celestials logo final2Pretty nice, huh?

Well, even nicer, is my BRAND, NEW DEAL! As a part of my contribution to Lada Ray’s YA Revolution, I am now GIVING AWAY the e-book of Celestials – FOREVER! That’s right! Call me insane, but I’ve gotta spread the word. You can only enjoy this offer from Smashwords, as Amazon is stupid and they make me sell it for 99 cents over there. So, uh, yeah… get it off Smashwords.

So, grab a copy of each today! Go on Smashwords and enjoy TWO entries to my awesome saga for only $2.99 – TOTAL! Not too shabby.

If you want, you can find my Amazon editions for kindle here and here

Have fun, and happy reading!

Writing Upside-Down Flash Fiction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2013 by royalmanaball

The talented Danielle Tauscher who is the mastermind behind the great literary blog Writing Upside-Down has just accepted my submission for her Flash Fiction challenge! Awesome!

The theme is 2nd-person POV. You know, like Bright Lights, Big City. Although my yarn is set in a big city, there are no bright lights here. The name of my new lil’ ditty is entitled Go!

Anyway, click the pic and enjoy the plunge. Oh, and, by the way, it isn’t YA-friendly. Just warning you.

Illustration: Josh Johnson

Illustration: Josh Johnson

 

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