It’s been a while since I posted anything here, but rest assured my little elves are hard at work on goodies for you. Here’s an update.
The Organ Donor
The 15th anniversary edition of my first novel, The Organ Donor, is on track for a November release from Bloodshot Books. I went all self-indulgent with this one, penning a 6,000-word afterword for the new edition, laying out the whole sordid story about my real-life encounter with Chinese organ trafficking. The publisher hired the estimable Deena Warner to do the cover art and design, which I hope to show you soon. I’m again working with filmmaker John Johnson to foolishly spend any royalties I earn from this edition on a fun book trailer. (Watch past book trailers at this link.) More information about The Organ Donor.
The Dagger of God
The what?! What ‘chu talkin’ about, Willis? That’s right; there’s another novel in the sausage-making factory. This one is a trunk novel, a ghost story about the Civil War, Ku Klux Klan, and ugly racial violence. As if that’s topical. I enjoy reading/performing stories, so I’m trying something new: recording my own audio book. It’s been a fun experiment so far but fraught with frustrations as my basement office isn’t exactly a sound booth (chugga-chugga laundry machines behind me, and idiot felines scratching on my window screen), and my microphone picks up every breath pop, inhalation, and squishy lip parting that I make. Probably the most successful aspect of this venture will be the blooper reel. There’s also the challenge of keeping character voices distinct. My main character is a Southern belle who alternately sounds like Scarlett O’Hara or Matt-Warner-forgetting-his-character’s-voice. But when it’s done, I nevertheless intend to release it on the Amazon ACX platform and possibly on Youtube. If successful, it will make one long car trip bearable for you. Listening to an audiobook really is the best way to travel.
And on the personal front . . .
The website design business keeps the “busy” in business. I mean, day-um. Deena Warner Design continues to be in high demand for author websites. I’m also spending a significant portion of time working for First Arriving, a marketing firm in high demand for fire department websites. My writing career currently occupies the 530-630am hour most weekdays, and these two firms occupy everything else — that is, everything not taken up by my high-energy 6- and 8-year-old boys, who are scary smart.
On top of all that, I’ve become ever more entrenched in Total Defense Martial Arts, which provides boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu instruction to the Staunton area. Starting in January, I’ll assume primary responsibility for teaching BJJ to kids between 6 and 16. I’m also in talks with Staunton Montessori School to volunteer for two months as a self-defense instructor to 7-9th graders, teaching them the joys of escaping headlocks, bear hugs, and chokes.
That’s about it. Please stay tuned for all the happenings this fall.
This has been a thin summer for me news-wise as I’ve been loading the metaphorical gun with more stuff to fire at you down the road. Another novel is in the can and with beta readers, and I’ll soon begin work on a long short story that’s been commissioned by a specialty publisher. Mark your calendars for Oct. 1, when I’ll be a guest at Con of the Mountain in Clifton Forge, VA.
Here’s the newest stuff in print. Do yourself a favor, and check it out, eh?
Dominoes in Time — Collecting 18 previously published horror and science fiction stories. “Matthew Warner has such a variety of ideas collected here, that I am certain every horror fan will find something that resonates with them.” Horror After Dark
For my birthday a year ago, my wife gave me a boxing speed bag platform after I got hooked on the art of it at my martial arts school (Valley Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Staunton, VA). She also gave me the demonstration video to The Speed Bag Bible by Alan Kahn (1996). The man’s a badass! This is what my progress looks like so far. I have a long way to go.
Do you know those holiday newsletters you receive from relatives, printed on pink and red paper, that go on and on about trips taken during the year? Yeah, this is like one of those, so I’ll keep it to a mere ten rambles. In 2013:
I wrote a feature-length screenplay on spec, just for the hell of it. I’m submitting it, of course, but I’m not sure anyone is interested in producing a film mostly shot in timelapse. (But, could you be the one?)
I also finished a movie novelization for a small Virginia film studio. No publication date set yet.
And I put together a short story collection that I’m beginning to submit to publishers. 85,000 words of previously published fiction, collected from here and there, a surprisingly large number.
I saw my first urban fantasy novel hit the shelves. My publisher and I did a ton of local advertising, including (new for me) venues such as on-screen advertising in movie theaters and a holiday display at the park. I’ve had two successful book signings in the area and this month will be the guest of a book club.
But have I yet converted my writer’s royalties into a yacht or something? Ha, yeah, moving on.
The biggest change for me was to slim down to 173 pounds from a high of 198 and to join a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school, where I’ve earned the first stripe on a white belt. (I can expect to remain a white belt for the next few years.) It’s been a great outlet, but I’m paying the price a bit; my chiropractor this morning told me I cracked at least one rib, which has calloused over in a weird way. But I’m hoping the new knots on my ribs will actually prove to be miniature arc reactors capable of sustaining powered flight. Ha ha, you just wait until I have the last laugh. Next up at my martial arts school for me is boxing. I’m sure that won’t result in any injuries at all.
Our oldest son had some temporary behavior problems this summer that we were worried could be the sign of something more serious, so we had him evaluated. An intelligence test soon revealed the gravity of our 4-year-old’s problem: Owen has an IQ of 152. “In non-statistical terms,” the report reads, “only one in approximately 1700 of Owen’s peers would be expected to have an IQ at this level.” So, basically, we’re just eight points shy of raising a certified genius. I think we’re in deep shit.
Yeah, this is actually happy stuff. I warned you.
Our younger son is pretty bright, too. The other day, he sat still at the dining room table playing with Play Doh for over two hours, just as happy as a clam. I couldn’t convince him to get up and run around like, you know, other 2-year-olds. This isn’t an everyday occurence, so he’s not freak or anything, but Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t be surprised to walk into his room one day to discover him assembling Lego castles with only the power of his thoughts. Next up for Thomas is potty training. Yeah, did I mention we’re in deep shit?
Deena and I are looking forward to having both children in preschool this fall, which means we hope to be able to work at the same time. On our last anniversary, we took our first adults-only overnight trip in over four years, an experience we plan to repeat soon. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. . . .
This year, I hope to have more of the same. Best wishes for happy developments in your neck of the woods!
The other day, I sent a handwritten letter to a friend. I wrote it in cursive, in big, bold strokes. I was proud of it, in a way, because I felt I was being personal. I knew a graphologist would be able to divine the inner workings of my personality from its lines and loops. Maybe even the friend would save it and one day donate it to the future Matthew Warner Museum (you know, that mythical place in the future all writers fantasize about, except they replace the words before “Museum” with their own names). But then I remembered cursive is a dying art.
Oh, yeah. Right.
That’s actually news to me. I add it to the list of Things That Make Me Feel Prematurely Old. My odometer rolls the big 4-0 in a couple months. My nose hairs are going gray. Charlize Theron and that lunatic on this week’s Piers Morgan show are younger than me. For that matter, Piers Morgan ain’t much older than me, either. Barack Obama was about five years younger than me when he became a state senator.
I wake up in the middle of the night to pee. I need to see a chiropractor three or four times a year. I worry about colon polyps. I think about aging parents. I drive conservatively. I save for retirement.
My youngest son isn’t a helpless baby anymore.
I’m not sure what this all means. I’m not supposed to be this old.
This week, I cut my hair down to a half inch. Mortified my hair dresser. First time in my life I’ve strayed from the Elvis thickness of the 1970s. Not because I had to, due to some premature balding, but because I was curious. She said it makes me look younger. My wife was polite. My mother was horrified. As for me, well, I just think it makes my head a little cold.
A little old.
So here I am. A fully grown man, I guess. I’m not sure what that means. I’m writing a novel right now — a novelization of the remake of the famous Plan 9 From Outer Space. It’s going really well. I’m applying all those skills I’ve so painfully honed for the past 20 years. And while I’ll never have the attitude that I have nothing to learn about writing, I am more aware this time than ever before that I don’t have anyone showing me what to do. I’m not in school anymore. I’m just fucking doing it, flying solo. Writing a novel is always an act of faith in oneself, ultimately, and that’s a bit scary.
Ha ha! My year-end wrap up is the first one out! I beat all you bitches to the end of the year! In your face!
And you know why? Because I’m actually writing this from the future. It’s January 2013 here, and through the magic of my blog’s “scheduling” feature, I’m able to publish this entry in the past. That’s right; my website skills are that badass.
Oh, yeah, sorry. The news. Yes, we survived the Mayan apocalypse. (This was thanks in part to Desmond Miles, who touched the silver sphere of bad writing and protected us from the solar flares. Or something.)
But below is the real news, the headlines that matter most to me:
Deena and I successfully dragged our eldest son through basic potty training. The significance of this achievement cannot be overstated. He’s now in his first year of preschool and learning which words he can only say in the bathroom or his bedroom. For the record, they are pee, poop, butt, and fart.
We also passed the milestones of our fifth year running a successful website- and print-design business and our ninth wedding anniversary. We hear all the time that all married couples fight, but honestly, we don’t know where they’re coming from. Maybe they didn’t marry the right people.
I ran my first 5K without dying of a heart attack.
I lost ten pounds this summer while massively landscaping my front and back yards. My new flower beds are covered with rocks and rubber mulch to ensure they remain sterile and lifeless. Deena’s new Bigfoot statue (Bigfoot is exactly the size of a one-year-old; who knew?) stands guard against any spontaneous generation.
It took a few months, but Deena and I finished redesigning this website. Aside from granting me godlike powers, the homepage features a sliding slideshow widget that I programmed from scratch.
In 2013, there will be things like a new novel published (more on that later) and other ongoing writing projects. And since I just now read my 2013 summation, written by my future self, I expect it all to go swimmingly.
Continuing in the tradition of the Larry King-esque mental burps I followed last year at about this time, I offer for your consideration a list of 2012 agenda items:
Eyes Everywhere will soon be re-released as an eBook from HW Press. In re-proofing the book after a five-year hiatus, I had several strange emotional reactions. The strongest was how very sad the story is, a reflection brought on by actually being a father now and not just a writer writing about one. How did I get through it?
The premiere of my stage play, Pirate Appreciation Day, is on course for late February. I’ve been sitting in on the Waynesboro Players’ rehearsals, watching in pleasure and amazement as director Caleb Towns guides the cast in their efforts to bring my words to life. As always when something of mine is produced (previously my stuff has been put on by the Wayne Theater Alliance and Darkstone Entertainment), it’s fascinating to witness the imagination and improvisations that other people bring to the story. I’ve been taking notes on what changes the actors and director have been coming up with, because I think that it will make the play better in a future draft.
I’ve been doing my best to be a good citizen of ole’ Staunton, Virginia. Last month, instead of just giving in to my impulse to murder the Rottweilers down the street who menaced me on my morning jog, I petitioned the City Council to pass a leash-or-confinement ordinance. The idea is to prevent unleashed dogs from leaving their property to, say, bite the face off my son the next time I walk down the street with him in a stroller. The city manager actually emailed me back this week and said the mayor has asked him to study the issue. And last night, on my way home, I called in a car accident that I witnessed and even stuck around to give a statement to the police. Shit, I may even vote this year, if only to keep the religious nut jobs out of office. (Speaking of religion, what was with all the weird Santa-worshipping-at-the-manger artwork that circulated on Facebook a few weeks ago? But I digress.)
My greatest strength and joy every day remains my family. I’m thankful to have a wonderful and understanding wife, who continues to employ me in a successful website design business that gives me the time to write. I take daily pleasure in watching the (daily) changes of my sons, Owen and Thomas, one of whom will probably be out of diapers this year, and the other who will be happy when he can roll over.
Happy new year! (Or is that, “Happy New Year!”) Here’s what’s on tap for 2011:
“The Good Parts” movie will be viewable online as soon as its IMDB title page is set up. IMDB’s subsidiary Withoutabox authorized it for a page a month ago, but there have been the usual technical issues and delays. The movie has also been submitted to a number of film festivals; fingers crossed it’ll get into one of them.
Blood Born is on schedule for a spring release from HW Press. If it’s out by April, I’ll sign copies at RavenCon; if not, then I’ll have it at the Stoker Weekend.
In the meantime, the newest Blood Born trailer can be viewed on Youtube by clicking here. John Johnson and Darkstone Entertainment have exceeded my expectations in production value. The latest trailer benefited from having an actual National Guardsman named Michael Hebron, whose services included technical consultation on the script. Michael and I starred as the soldiers. The last-minute casting of me required me to do a quick shave of my beard. My publisher participated by donating two cars to the traffic jam. The final trailer will premiere Feb. 28.
The “Save the Baby” contest ended New Year’s Eve with only two winners. I guess the free online video game I programmed is too difficult. (But maybe you’ll prove me wrong?) Robert Brouhard and Jamie Wasserman will each receive book freebies.
I’m currently writing short stories for various spec markets. One of my efforts, “Maybe Monitored,” about the dark side of baby monitors, will appear in the last web-only issue of Dark Fiction Spotlight.
And on a personal note (but then, isn’t everything here personal?), our youngest cat, Percy, has gone on to greener pastures. I mean that quite literally; he’s now living on a farm in North Carolina, where he’s the sole mouser. No other cats, no small children like my son to scratch, and nothing but shitloads of rats to eat. It sounds like cat heaven, and I wish him the best.
The New Years season is a time of optimism and renewal, but I have to confess these days to having a small host of anxieties. I mean, they aren’t eating me up or anything, but these little, everyday things often preoccupy me:
Is my son, Owen, warm enough at night? Is he getting enough to eat?
What if something happened to me or Deena, and he was left without a father or mother?
One day Owen will have a driver’s license, and then I’ll be worried about him dying in a car accident. (And why am I worrying about stuff like this before it’s time?)
Owen’s head is still big and fragile, and I just know I’m going to accidentally brain him on a door frame one day.
What if the U.S. government defaults on its debt and goes belly up?
Will I stay healthy and live to an old age?
Will Owen be able to protect himself from all the screwballs of the world?
Will the publishing industry ever resume taking chances on midlist writers?
And, of course, my number-one preoccupation:
Will the News Leader ever become a good newspaper?
I would much rather have anxieties concerning the meaning of existence. (Will Ludwigsen has an entertaining blog post today about cosmic horror that’s worth reading.)
I guess this is all part and parcel of being a new father. In the meantime, all I can do is prepare the best I can: buy insurance, exercise, save money, and enroll the boy in a decent martial arts program once he’s old enough.