Devils Live!

click image for book page on amazon.com

It’s a great feeling to have an email like this in your inbox when you wake up! I’m exhausted, in a micro-flare (don’t ask), my eyes are burning, and I never, ever, want to hear the voice of MS Text to Speech again!

Even so… WORTH IT!

The paperback is going to be delayed, but it shouldn’t be by much.  If, that is, I can convince MS Word to stop randomly removing italics from words, phrases, sentences, and/or entire sections (known bug since 2007!) long enough to print the pdf of the interior.  Supergirl and I are going through the document later this afternoon to try and resolve the missing italics.

 

Devils Back Cover Text

How can you get excited about a book unless you know what it’s about?

This is the information that will appear as the Amazon description, and on the back of the print book:

 

Come, step inside the dark passageways of Erik Henry Vick’s mind. Come meet his friends, devils, one and all.

 

Robert is a war hero on his way down. Addicted to cocaine, wallowing in guilt, he meets a beautiful woman with the quirky habit of telling everyone she’s the devil.

Rick Bergen learns the true cost of revenge when he enters the world of the voodoo pantheon and meets the manifestation of vengeance.

Rena is kidnapped by polygamist extremists bent on creating an army for the apocalypse—by any means necessary.

An ancient evil has returned to stalk the shores of Lake Seneca. A colonial New Yorker, with the help of an Onondowaga warrior, must confront beings that can’t be killed or reasoned with.

A man is trapped in Rochester, NY by a massive snowstorm, but if he doesn’t make his appointment in Buffalo, his entire bloody itinerary will be in jeopardy

 

Mind your step. Don’t attract these devils’ attention.

 


This collection of devilish short fiction from Erik Henry Vick, titled Devils, debuts in the chilling tradition of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Dean Koontz.


BONUS PREVIEW of Erik Henry Vick’s upcoming horror novel, Errant Gods, is included!


“A phenomenal debut that will haunt readers for years to come.”
-Peter Telep, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of the Doc Harrison and the Apocalypse series

 

Excited yet?

Devils eBook Cover
art and layout by Erik Henry Vick

Early praise for Devils

Peter Telep, #1 NYT Bestselling Author of the Doc Harrison and the Apocalypse Series has this to say about Devils:

“With imagistic prose and a keen eye for exposing his characters’ deepest fears and flaws, Vick takes no prisoners as he guides you through a landscape of demons so dark and decadent that you’ll recognize it immediately. Even more remarkable, he exercises a tremendous reserve, steering clear of the cliches and shopworn tropes of the genre to bring us something much more honest… and much more chilling. A phenomenal debut that will haunt readers for years to come.”

Thanks Peter!

In just six, six, six days, you can see for yourself if he’s right!

Where do your ideas come from?

Stephen King hates that question, I think.  He writes about it in a lot of books and mentions it often in author’s notes, etc.  I think every writer dreads this question because the answer sounds too pat, too off the cuff.  It’s still true of every author I know or have spoken to about this.

Good ideas come from working.  Yeah, sure, the original idea might come just pop into my head, or be inspired by something I’ve read or watched, but with very few exceptions, none of them are just ready to go.  They need to be nurtured, loved, caressed.  Okay, okay, sometimes they need to be beaten, but that’s legal in most states.

In the rare cases, like in the case of my novella, The Devil, (which you can read in Devils!), the ideas come so fast that it’s like a race to keep up with them.  The original idea was about starting each section of the story with a line similar to the first line of the story: I’ve seen the devil, and she was beautiful.  I thought about that for a couple of days and developed a list of 8 or 10 phrases like it.  From there, the story took over.  I wrote the first draft in less than a week, and in a very nonlinear fashion.

When I was professoring (tm), I usually pushed for a class on creative thinking in whatever program I was teaching in.  Many people think it’s a talent, and I guess to some degree it is, but at its root, creative thinking is a skill.  Like any skill, it can be developed.  It takes practice, and there a multitude of exercises, methods, theories, and practices to explore (I will talk about some of these in later posts).

The task of turning an idea into a sound story idea revolves around something I call follow-up.  Yeah, it’s not a very creative name, I get that.  It’s also not very revolutionary.  I get an idea and then I think about it for a short time — 20 or 30 minutes — to see if I want to play with it more, or put it in my ideas book (it’s really a One Note file) for more cook time.  If I’m want to play it with a bit more, I let it go for a few hours and do something else — read, write, drink, take pain meds, whatever.  Then I follow-up.  I take the idea out and play with it some more.  Sometimes, I begin writing scenes in my head or start some dialogue between characters.  Other times I try to imagine what Stephen King (or Elmore Leonard, Dashiell Hammet, Michael Smith, Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, Issac Asimov, Peter Straub, Anne Rice, etc., anyone really, really good) might do with the idea.  It helps sometimes to give the idea to a writer from a different genre.  The idea is to  get to work.  Set my mind thinking about developing the idea.

I don’t worry about things like a plot outline or character sketches or anything like that.  Yes, I have done that in the past, but I’ve found that I work best when I get the hell out of the story’s way.  Plus, it’s more fun.  Although it makes answering the next dreaded question (what’s your story about) harder.   My next novel, Errant Gods, started with the idea of writing about some of my experiences being disabled by RA.  The first draft ended up being something like 240,000 words (950ish 8.5×11 doubles spaced sheets).  It grew from being a straight horror mystery into something far more.  I cut about 300 pages in rewrites, because the idea had grown much over the course of the writing.

What I mean about developing the idea is to see what directions I can grow it.  I intentionally try to get the idea stuck on something.  For example, in Errant Gods, the first think I wrote was a scene about a disabled investigator discovering one of his neighbors was a practicing serial killer while he was under the influence of pain medication and then forgetting it in the morning.  Three months later, he discovered the information again and began to act on it, disabled or not.  The more I thought about that though, the more stuck the idea became.  He didn’t do things believably (to my mind) — he did things a cop wouldn’t do, or I couldn’t justify making a cop a do.  So, I did some follow-up (and that scene was one of the first I cut).  The story grew and grew and morphed and demanded I change things.  What it is now is a far cry from what I thought it would be.  Some of the elements are the same, but the book is much, much better.

I think that’s where the problem of answering “where do your ideas come from” originates.  The first thing I think of when someone asks me that is: “Which ones?”  The second thing I think of is: “The flopped around in my head until I had to let them out.”  Neither of those are good answers.  The good answer is: “I worked for them.”

 

Updates!

Devils Full Paperback Cover

I heard from my editor for Devils.  I should have the edited version back from her on Monday!

In other news, I am less than 100 pages to the end of my final proofing (before beta) of Errant Gods (my next novel).  That means the beta should be up in the next couple of weeks (depending on how much time Devils demands from me to make my publications deadline, of course).  If you are not yet a Beta Reader for me but would like to be, please sign up here.

Thanks for looking!

 

 

 

How can you do that?

How can you do that with your disability?

It’s a question I am asked quite often, in one form or another.  The pat answer is that I’m incredibly awesome, not to mention modest.  The non-trivial answer is longer, and more involved.  I can spend between an hour to 3 hours writing on any given day, so I try to maximize my productivity during those hours with hardware and software adaptations.

First, I’m taking about 6,000 medications to treat my disease.  If I had to rate their effectiveness on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is ‘just shoot me,’ and 10 is ‘what disease,’ I’d have to rate it somewhere below 5, but above 2, depending on the day, season, alignment of the moon, etc.  None of these medications have non-trivial  side-effects, and I am often amused at the choices I have to make.  Choices like: Should I just take to the bed and lie there like a slug, or should I take this medicine that might make me grow a third arm out of the center of my forehead? But, the silliness of chronic illnesses and their treatments is another post.

Second, I’ve amassed a specific set of computer software and hardware that allow me to write.  This post is really about that set.  Here’re a couple of pictures of Death Star Command:

 

 

 

 

Yes, my office/writing chair is a Lazyboy recliner.  I had to adopt the chair because my RA is in places like my hips and tail bone, which means sitting in a regular chair can be painful, and sitting in one for long is almost always painful.

I have two main methods of writing: “traditional” entry and using Dragon Naturally speaking.  I can’t use either one exclusively, since some days my Personal Monster ™ takes my voice, and on other days, it takes my hands.  The set of hardware I use helps me adapt to each day’s particular demands.

The funny contraption that lets me sit in a Lazyboy and type is an Ergotron WorkFit-A Dual Monitor/Suspended Keyboard swing arm.  I had to modify it to allow me to mount it on the front edge of the desk, but the rest of it is straight out of the box.  It works very, very well.  It also lets me put the keyboard and mouse exactly where I need it on each particular day.  I’m not limited to one position, I can move to what ever will let me spend some time writing.

On the swing arm, rest 2 Asus VG248QE 24 inch monitors, a Logitech G13 programmable keyboard, a Corsair K70 RGB with Cherry MX Speedkey keys, and a Corsair Scimitar.  I also use a Wacom Intuos Pro Large when the need arises, and to paint my covers.  There’s nothing special about the monitors — they are 144MHz monitors that do nothing to help me combat my Personal Monster ™.  Each of the input devices serve a separate purpose.  The Logitech G13 has a thumbstick and 24 programmable keys that are placed very close together.  It’s great for scrolling through text and highlighting areas that need work.  It also helps when my wrists are acting up (I use the thumbstick instead of a mouse).  The Corsair K70 is also programmable, but I mostly use it ‘plain.’  The Cherry MX Speedkey keys only require 45g of force to activate the key (which is around 1/2 the force of a regular key).  It’s great when my interphalangeal and/or metacarpophalangeal joints are causing me grief.  They also make a cool clicking sound (keys not joints… joints that make a clicking sound are not cool!)  The Corsair Scimitar is fully adjustable, putting 12 programmable keys in exactly the right spot for my thumb.  The Wacom tablet’s usefulness is not limited to painting.  It also serves as a touch pad for Windows 10, and I can use it when my body demands I ignore the mouse, keyboard and G13.  Because it’s a touch pad, I can use the on screen keyboard and type without having to press anything.  It’s not ideal, but it does work.

I also have a Blue Yeti USB Blackout microphone that is extremely good when paired with  Dragon Naturally Speaking.  It is a high quality microphone with several modes, the most important being ‘directional.’  I can put the mic in front of my mouth and talk without fear that Dragon will pick up my son shouting with his friends or Supergirl asking if I want anything.

I use three monitors so I can work in one, have reference material in the other and have things like email, music players, etc. in the third.  This reduces keystrokes — I can just move my eyes instead of hitting alt-tab, etc.

Besides Dragon, I use Microsoft Word and One Note, because I can access both from my phone or tablet in bed.  I don’t recommend writing a book of any length on a handheld device, but then again, I don’t recommend getting R.A., either.  Reading what I’ve written is great on these handheld devices.  I convert the work to mobi files and read them in Kindle, using the built in notes and highlighting tools to give myself reminders of what to fix.

To a healthy person, most of this probably reads like overkill to the sillieth power.  If I were healthy, I might think the same thing, but after spending years not being able to use the computer, I don’t feel that way 🙂  Even with all these accommodating pieces of hardware and software, I still have days that I can’t do a thing, and other days where the pain medicine would make it possible, but what would come out of me would be gibberish ;).

I don’t think much about this, to be honest.  When I encounter a problem that limits me, I find a way around it (or Supergirl does).  Like Tim Allen says in Galaxy Quest, “Never give up, never surrender!”

If you are similarly afflicted, I hope you’ve found something here you haven’t thought of.  If you have something I haven’t thought of, please share!  If you aren’t sick, I hope this helps paint a small corner of the picture of what life with so-called invisible disabilities can be like.

For a more succinct and technical list of what I use, please see this page.

 

Devils: One Step Closer!

Final art finished for the book covers!  The original concept was cool, but I broke out the oil painting skills and did a new version.  I think it’s better (obs as my son would say), and it was a lot of fun to paint.  Of course, me being me, I did the painting digitally.

I decided to do a trade paperback for this book.  Here is the cover:

Devils Full Paperback Cover
art and layout by Erik Henry Vick

Here is the eBook cover:

Devils eBook Cover
art and layout by Erik Henry Vick

All that remains to do for Devils is get the copy edit back, review finalize the interior design and then release it.   There is also a surprise coming, but don’t ask me what it is.

I’m getting excited now, are you?

Headshot Outtakes

Supergirl snapped a few headshots the other day, and I got to clowning around a bit…  Normally, I’m all business, as you no doubt know, but the devil was whispering in my ear that day.

Supergirl was acting really nervous when we were down by Lake Ontario.  I didn’t know why until I processed this picture…

photo by Melissa Vick

My reaction was justified, I think…  For some reason, Supergirl thought this was out of line.

photo by Melissa Vick

After she calmed down a little, I got to some serious clowning…

photo by Melissa Vick
photo by Melissa Vick

 

 

 

 

 

It was about then that she noticed my shirt…  “What are you wearing?!”

photo by Melissa Vick

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, it was that kind of afternoon.

 

Devils is DONE

I finished Devils yesterday and sent it all to be copy edited!  I was finished with most of it on Thursday, but put off writing the back matter because that’s the part I hate… distilling the whole thing down to a paragraph or so.

Here’s the dreaded back matter for your amusement:

 

Come, step inside the dark passageways of Erik Henry Vick’s mind.  Come meet his friends, devils, one and all.

Devils is a collection of devilish short fiction from the mind of horror writer, Erik Henry Vick, comprised of four novellas and one flash piece.  Included in this edition is a four-chapter preview of Erik’s next novel, Errant Gods.

The Devil tells the story of a war hero on his way down.  Addicted to cocaine, wallowing in his guilt, he meets a beautiful woman with a quirky habit of telling everyone she’s the Devil.  In Vengeance, Rick Bergen learns the true cost of revenge when he enters the world of the voodoo pantheon and meets the manifestation of vengeance.  Sister Wives tells the tale of young woman who is kidnapped by polygamist extremists bent on creating an army for the Apocalypse — by any means necessary.  In Wendigo, an ancient evil has returned to stalk the shores of Lake Seneca.  A colonial New Yorker, with the help of Donehogawa, an Onondowaga Brave, must confront beings that can’t be killed or reasoned with.  Drifting tells the meandering tale of a man obsessed by his schedule of appointments.

Mind your step.  Don’t attract these devils attention.

I celebrated by watching Aliens Covenant.  Loved it!

On writing

Imagine a blank page with the words 'Once upon a time ...' written on it

 

There are a lot of books published that will “tell you how to be a writer.”  There’s nothing wrong with them, and I don’t begrudge the authors a thing.  Many of them have great insight into the craft and business of writing fiction.

Here’s the thing: I see a lot of aspiring writers jumping from one book to the next, from one method to the next.  That’s where the trouble starts, in my opinion.

I’ve read a number of books on the craft in the past — most of them written by one of my favorite authors.  I never saw them as recipes.  I saw them as tool kits.  I read that Orson Scott Card started his novels by drawing a map, so I tried that (not for me).  I read the Ben Bova tried to incorporate all five senses in a scene, so I tried that (worked!).  I read a lot of Stephen King’s tips and advice (most helpful for me).

I read books on writing that were written by unqualified successes in the field, and as I read, I thought about whether what I was reading was likely to help me.  If I thought it might, I tried it out — immediately.  If I saw potential, I kept using the tool.  If it didn’t work I discarded it.

That’s my advice:  quit reading and reading and reading about how to write, and start writing.  See what works and what doesn’t.  One important question you should ask yourself is whether the advice will pigeon hole you.

For example, I once read that a writer needs a solitary, quiet place in which to work.  An office where people know to leave you alone if you are in there.  It’s a horrible idea in my opinion.  It means you can only write if you are at home, and if everything is quiet.  It means you can’t listen to music, have the TV on, talk on the phone or to your significant other or children while you are writing.  It means you can’t sit outside and enjoy nature.  If you can train yourself to write anywhere, no matter what’s going on around you, your writing life will be easier and more fun.

One of the most powerful books for me was On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.  It’s more than a how to book, and I found it much easier to read and remember because of that.

One of the most important things I learned from Mr. King was the idea of leaving yourself a “Next note” where you leave off writing for the day.  Since I’ve been battling my Personal Monster ™, I’m not always able to write everyday (or even every week at times).  The next note allowed me to take the breaks I needed to and not lose the story.  For that alone, I owe my current writing to Mr. King.

The note needs to say the things you need it to say.  I’ve got a pretty good memory, so sometimes my next notes are simple — one or two sentences.  Sometimes, they are pages.

For example, one of the simple ones for the next novel was:

Meuhlnir tells the story of the early Viking visits

The longer ones are, well, longer 🙂  I hope you get the idea.