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  • Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    by Craig Terlson

    A collection of short stories where the humour runs dark and the slipstream bubbles up.

     

    ...imagine if Raymond Carver called up George Saunders and Joe Lansdale, and they all went drinking with Neil Gaiman.

  • Correction Line
    Correction Line
    by Craig Terlson

    “… it's clear that Terlson is way ahead of the curve in terms of crafting an engaging premise that reaches for elevated territory and reinvents enduring archetypes of action and suspense.”  J. Schoenfelder


    "Sometimes brutal, often demanding and always complex, this novel will repay the reader who likes their assumptions challenged and is happy to walk away from a book with minor questions unanswered but the big ones definitely dealt with! It’s likely to satisfy those who enjoy Hammet and/or Philip K Dick and who like their fiction very noir indeed."   Kay Sexton

     

    "I love a novel that you can't put down, and this is one of them."  L. Cihlar

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Entries by Craig Terlson (458)

Friday
Mar242017

Woo-back machine - baby light my head on fire

It's Friday, so here's something from the Woo-back machine. 10 years ago, wow, back when the White Stripes were a band, not the colour of my beard.

I guess I'd say this has always been a central thing for me - the fast writing, bang those keys like you mean it - and I was just mentioning to someone the other day this image of hair-on-fire (as opposed to pants on fire, which goes with the current administration in the U.S.) So I still remember writing this cool little story about my doorbell's ringing.

From the woo-back machine...Feb. 21, 2007...

Flaming noggin' writing

 

 

Some days the words come easier than others.

When I am blocked for an idea, or more often, too lazy/uninspired to work on the story I am supposed to be working on, I have to give my head a shake – a HARD shake. It's not really automatic writing (if anyone recalls that odd exercise from English class where you scribble down the first thing that comes into your head), but it is a way of forcing you into a story, any story.

Somewhere, a while back, I came across a quote that said, "Write like your head is on fire and words are the only thing that can put it out." 
I always loved that image - and this is what I am thinking of when I do the "head-shake" exercise. In other words: just write something DAMMIT and write it NOW!

Early last week I was in desperate need of this, as nothing was flowing, hell, it wasn't even dripping. So I cranked on itunes, set it shuffle and wrote in that blazing head style. It began:

It was one of those odd things, synchronicity, the White Stripes thinking about my doorbell ringing and it actually happening, the ringing I mean. Some guy in a shaggy green coat, like a rug with buttons, doing a jig, a two-step on my front step. I saw him through the stained glass window, in the clear part, above the Celtic cross.

Of course, the White Stripes were playing on my itunes. A very odd story started to pour out of my flaming noggin' - the tunes shuffled and I followed along. At the end of it I liked what I had written, yes it was strange, but it was something, a story, not just rambling.

I put it away for a couple of days and then brought it back out into the light - I try to put stories away for a while, usually longer than a couple days. To my surprise, it wasn't utter drivel, in fact I liked it quite a bit. I worked on it, tweaking here and there, but tried to maintain the spark, the freshness. Then I sent it off to see if anyone else might like it.

I was delighted when I received an email from the U.K. based magazine 3:AM. It's known for an edgy style and as their tagline say, "Whatever it is, we're against it". They liked the piece and wanted to publish it in an upcoming issue.

I need to light my head on fire more often.

Here's the link to the story in 3:AM magazine.

 

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And here's a bonus 2017 addition the incredible White Stripes video for My Doorbell!

 

Monday
Mar202017

One more, cuz it's Monday

It been Monday (aka #mondayblogs) - I thought I'd post something extra this week. Especially because, as mentioned, I've got a new search feature on my blog that I'm way to excited about - probably just me - but it is interesting to view what I was thinking about as I navigated the bumpy writer's road to publication back in those days.

Currently, I'm working on a post for my publisher's blog on "Why I write - or why anyone should."
Searching through woofreakinhoo, I found that this is a topic I've discussed before (understatement). But the why I write question is a frequent one for all writers. I don't see it so much as naval gazing, as when faced with something so damn difficult, it is no wonder that we ask ourselves: why the fuck do I do this thing again? Can't I just go bowling?

Anyway, back in 2013, in the woo-back machine, I found myself, once again, wondering why I write. Around this time I had been dabbling with Self-publishing, and to be honest not having a lot of success with it. Well, except for giving away free books. I could give away free books all day long. My first novel, Correction Line, was given away in the thousands. But ask someone to cough up a buck or two for a self-pubbed novel... that was a whole 'nother thing. So writing sure wasn't about the money – because there was no money.

 

Here's the post:

Why I write 2.0 (The Profit Version)

I was posting something at a writer's site where I hang out - and thought I would share it here at the blog. A writer, maybe young, I am not sure, asked about the profitability of being a writer. As usual, lots of writers chimed in that there is no profit in being a writer. I don't fault these writers at all - I share their sentiment about the monetary side of writing.

So I wrote this in response:

(edited to protect the names)

I always find it kinda sad when I see these posts (and don't get me wrong ____, I don't mind you asking at all), just that the responses are usually like others - there is no profit.

And I have been known to post the very same. It seems like writing for profit these days, even minimal, is such a long long long shot. We talk about back in the day when the big pubs paid decent cash, and there were just more of them. Truth is, there were fewer writers trying to do it.

So the paying markets have shrunk - and the amount of writers trying to publish has... well, I don't even have a number that can represent that (kajupled?) Add that to a time when self-publishing is easier than it has ever been, and what do you get? More writers. 

I've read a lot of self-published writing - trying to gauge the market - and I have to say, there is a lot out there that is not ready for press. That doesn't even mean quality of writing - simple typo's and grammatical errors abound, along with the Swiftian adverbs, and clichés you could cut with a knife.

This is seeming tangential, but maybe I will find my way back. I have tried all of the above, collected rejections from the bigs, pubbed in the smalls, actually scored a great agent, and had my novel read by the big 6 (unsold). I have self-published (just put out a collection last week), and made an embarrassingly small amount of money. But boy did I give away a lot of books.

I am using your question as a jumping off point, but here is the thing. This whole journey has led me to really question why I write... I mean really question it. Work hours and hours and days, weeks, etc. on something that will maybe make you enough to buy a case a beer (non-import)? Seems kinda nutty. But I realized after all the frustration, I write because I have to. There is nothing I would rather do - and nothing fills me creatively, intellectually, or spiritually as much as the craft of a well-told story.

I am back looking for agents again, collecting pennies for my self-published efforts, and subbing the odd story to the big, small,and tiny magazines. But above all, I am writing. And now with a different purpose. Which is much more profitable than any of my other efforts. It helps make me human.

Sorry for the pontification - your question and subsequent responses just grabbed me. There is, as I always tell my artistic kids (actor/comedian/theatre major... oy), the grand "you never know." And so I still write for that too.

Best of luck with all your writing.

 

End note - in posting this, I feel I am being more forthright about my self-publishing than in the past. True, I have been disappointed by my sales in that area. So why release another collection? (As I did just last week.) The explanation is somewhat hard to articulate, but I do know this release is different than my other ones. I am very proud of these stories, and I wanted to feel as if they were truly finished - even the ones previously published. I loved writing them, I liked re-writing and ordering them into a theme, and loved putting them into a book form. Basically, it was about the artistic buzz. Would I love lots of people to read them? Of course. But I've been down that road. For me writing has a new purpose - or maybe one that was always there, and only has just now re-emerged.

Friday
Mar172017

Search Me! No, really.


Not sure why I've only done this now, but I've added a search function for woofreakinhoo. And as a friend of mine says, I'm really chuffed - which I am thinking is a good thing, right?

I'm not looking it up on Urban Dictionary, because you never know what you're going to get there. It's like searching for medical symptoms on the web - you're always only three clicks away from cancer.

It occurred to me that this blog has been around for quite awhile. And I'm kinda loving digging around the archives. So I've decided to add something new - a throwback machine if you will. On Fridays, I will dig up an old post and put it up. Why you ask? Well, I'm a sucker for nostalgia. But also a lot more people read this blog now, and it will be fun to show some of the historicity. That's gotta be a word, right?

In the Friday Woo-back Machine... (I just made that up)... a short one on Saramago - who still amazes me.

From March 30, 2009

The Writer Writes... 

The writer of this blog has been reading a book, quite a wonderful book, in which the sentences ramble on yet always with purpose and interspersed with dialogue that emerges within the narrative, flowing uninterrupted by punctuation, or at least quotation marks, Puzzling he says aloud and waits for a response from anyone near by, to which his wife replies, Come down for supper you lunkhead, and he sighs and searches for the end of sentence which approaches but never seems to arrive, until at last he can hit the small white square on his keyboard that denotes a full stop.

 

How in the hell does Jose Saramago write whole novels that way?

(Finally getting around to reading Blindness).

 

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Let me know what you think of the throwback - and search away in that box in the upper right corner.

Sunday
Mar122017

Guest blogging (somewhere else that is)

I'm working on a new upcoming blog post - but this time it will be as a guest blogger. My publisher, the fabulous (yes, I said, fabulous), Blue Moon Publishers has asked me to sit in their blog chair in April. Hmm, I think they have a blog chair. Hope so. I imagine it looking the one shown above.

So I am feverishly working on that right now. Okay, it's a low grade fever.

I love that they asked me to do this, as things are getting closer to the launch of Fall in One Day – so it is exciting times.

If you're just dying for the latest woofreakinhoo post (um, yeah), well here is a snippet of an interview I did for BMP.

***

Join us as we chat with author Craig Terlson, the newest member of the Blue Moon Publishers family, about his writing and upcoming literary YA novel Fall In One Day!

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 

Even though I ended up with a career as an illustrator, and then later, graphic designer, my earliest memory as a kid was wanting to be an “author” (which is what I called it – because, anybody could write, right?). As a kid, I was a voracious reader, even plowing through the World Book Encyclopedia, which impressed my parents and annoyed my sisters. I always figure if you read enough books, eventually you will want to write them.

What inspired you to begin writing Fall In One Day? Did you draw from personal experiences? 

In the 1980s I worked in the hospital where LSD testing was first experimented with in the 1950s. Growing up in the same city, I’d always heard the tales of alternative treatments for addictions and psychiatric patients, but I never knew the full story.

Years later, as I read about the history of LSD therapy, I was amazed at the fascinating connections that all led back to my hometown. I combined this history with my own memories of growing up in the 1970’s in a small Canadian city. We were TV kids, being amongst the first to get U.S. television stations because of our proximity to the border. I still remember watching Watergate, and wondering what the hell was going on down there.

These experiences wove together to form Fall In One Day.

Can you describe your revision and/or editorial process?

I do ascribe to the Stephen King adage of writing the first draft with the door closed (from On Writing). But once I have the shape of something, I am a huge believer in beta-readers and editors to help me see the things I missed. As I gather comments, and my own insights from leaving the manuscript rest for a while, I begin to revise by asking two main questions: “Why?” and “Is this true?” For something like a novel, that’s a lot of questioning. I also don’t do a chronological edit, page by page, until much later. Instead I jump around to different parts, and try to deal with the various problems that emerge. Sometimes, like with Fall In One Day, I need to put a book away for a couple of years before I can really come back to it with fresh insight.

 

Pop over to Blue Moon for the rest of the interview.

Monday
Feb272017

The Parallax View - (Watergate on the Tube: Part Two)

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, having my whole concept of what was, and what wasn't, true challenged as I sat in front of the tube watching the Watergate hearings. 1973... right.

I was too young to really understand what was going on, but in my memory I felt the tension. For sure, now, I can go back and watch clips on youtube, but I'm trying more to think about what it meant back then.

Let me start with a Charlie Chaplin reference, cuz, um why not? When I lived in Toronto in my 20s, I fell in love with Repertory cinemas – I'd always loved movies, and especially the weird ones (it was a few decades before I would hear the term "art house" or "indy films.") The Rep houses were my education in weird film, as well as really old films. There was one theatre called the Nostalgia that showed silent classics, Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and of course, Chaplin. When I started watching them, I didn't get it at first. Chaplin was funny and gifted to be certain, but so many of his routines and physical comedy had been done before. Then it hit me. Wait a sec... Chaplin did them first. I remember that moment with great clarity. I saw that all the others were impressions of Chaplin, but he had started it. Hard to explain, but this was a pivotal moment.

I digress, silently, like Chaplin – but for a reason.

Maybe this is a stretch (probably is... and too late), but I think of Watergate in these terms. In our current society, we have come to expect that politicians will lie – corruption and falsehoods are just part of it. Sure the current orange cheeto that is unexplainably still in power, has pushed this to an even farther extreme. And I'm not going to say he has made an art out of lying, because no credit of any kind should be given. But let's just say we have become used to lying politicians. No one expects campaign promises to be fulfilled. 

I am not saying that Watergate was the first time politicians lied, or even the first time they were caught doing it. I'm sure a quick look at Wiki-google-pedia will pop up many instances of people in power lying. Go have a look. I'll wait.

.......

 

See.

But here's the thing, Watergate was the first time that this sort of hearing was put across all the major networks, and beamed into our living rooms. Even the little Canadian ones, like mine, kicking off Star Trek, Hogan's Heroes, Gilligan's Island, Columbo, or any of the wonderous shows of my growing up. I already talked about this in the last post, so it must just be a sore point (and to be honest, those might not have even been the shows that were pre-empted.) 

My point is this was a major shift in culture – amidst a plethora of other shifts, which made for a turbulent time, but also a fascinating time for artists and film makers. In no way am I making light of the severity of the corruption by saying – oh well, at least great art came out of it. But it is interesting to look back at American movies in the 70s (referred by many as the Golden Age of American film), and see how a society was trying to make sense of these shifts. More than the shifts, trying to make sense of a government that told lies.

As mentioned before, the heyday of paranoia films came out of the 70s. Have a look at the Parallax View, staring Mr. Major Lefty, and oscar flubber, Warren Beatty himself. Altman films also had that paranoid vibe, as did Coppola movies (especially The Conversation). And a crime movie that I've blogged about before, Night Moves with Gene Hackman. The endings of these movies did not offer much solace. Beatty's character (Joe Frady... Frady for Pete's sake, why didn't I recognize that before?), when he finally understands the conspiracy in the Parallax View, is killed. Hackman's character at the end of the Conversation destroys his apartment looking for bugging equipment, and then plays the loneliest sax solo in his self-ransacked bathroom. Hackman, again, at the end of Night Moves is on a boat that goes in a slow continuous circle, a sign that nothing has been solved. The 70s were full of downer endings – so it wasn't like we were being told, "yes, you are being lied to, but it will all work out". Because it didn't.

I reflect a lot on this time in history – the 70s remain my favorite movie era of all time – but even more so in our current climate. We know we are being lied to, we may even be complacent to it (sometimes it sure seems that way). But like the odd complacency of seeing Chaplin do all those "old" routines, I pivot in my brain and remember that time when TV told me that people in power were lying to us... to me.

 

Here is a paragraph from my novel Fall in One Day that captures a similar moment happening to the lead character Joe Beck, a 15-year-old. Joe is stuck in front of the TV when Watergate comes on, and talks to his dad about it. (The Martians has to do with that lovely green glow that early TV sets had when the colour was wonky.)

***

I’m pretty sure nothing like that has ever happened around here, or not that anyone has ever told me. Just like those guys on TV, the real stuff gets hidden.

“A bunch of liars.”

“What did you say?” Dad asked.

“Those guys. You can tell.” I pointed at the glowing screen slowly being filled up with Martians.

Dad got up to fiddle with the knobs. “This is complicated stuff, Joe. I don’t think someone your age can quite understand what’s going on.”

Mom brought in supper to us—the burned smell was the roast, but at least the gravy was good. She put the food onto the foldout tables, and the three of us listened together. My mother smiled as she passed me the salt, whispering, “Here you go.”

Finally, they finished what they called a Special Report, with one last picture of a guy with slicked-down hair. None of these guys looked like crooks, but I knew right then that I was right. These guys were definitely lying. And I figured something else out: they were really good at it.

***

The above from my novel, Fall in One Day - which is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Thanks for reading! 

And finally the trailer from Parallax View: