Tag Archive for Writing

2013 Reboot

It’s been a long year already. Most of my plans have been derailed, but now it’s time for a fresh start.

Here’s the deal:

Late last year, my karate instructors told me they wanted to put me up for black belt in March. Two other candidates and I put together our attack team and we started training on Sundays. This also meant attending more classes, practicing and studying more often at home, and following the New Year the three of us started additional weekly training separate from our team.

Writing karate papers today

My writing and studying through the first quarter of the year looked like this

Training soon trumped everything, including writing. If I were a full-time writer, it wouldn’t have been an issue. However, I still have obligations to a day gig and I have a family, so something had to give. For the time being, unfortunately, that meant the writing.

I didn’t want to mention it here because I didn’t want to jinx it. See, my dojo doesn’t play games when it comes to black belts. It’s earned, no question. I felt confident I would pass the test, but there’s always a very real possibility of failure. I had to write three essays, take a 120-question written test, attempt the various physical requirements several times, and the test itself took about eight hours and covered just about everything I’d learned from white belt up to that point. I certainly didn’t want to be the guy talking up my upcoming test in public, only to turn around and have to admit I failed it.

Fortunately, I passed.

Our Kamiza

Our brown belts left on the altar following the kamiza ceremony

All three of us passed, in fact, and I scored better than I expected to. Two of us attended a seminar for our style, Shuri-ryu, the weekend following the test, and then this past weekend we had our formal promotion ceremony to receive our black belts and make things official.

It’s a huge load of pressure off, and it’s nice to finally have real free time again. My karate training will continue, but now I’ll be able to dial things back down to a sane level again. I’ll have my Sundays freed up and I’ll have more time for writing in general. I’ll be able to fiddle around with the camera again, and I can revisit my writing plans for the year once more.

Back on Track

Back on track, in more ways than one

I’ve resumed my normal fitness routine, too. I got back on the weight bench last week, and this morning I went out for my first run of the season. It was short and not near what I hoped, but I’m glad I could get back out there. I’m hoping to run the Warrior Dash again this year if my schedule allows, and I can’t let this stubborn Winter slow me down any longer.

It’s also catch-up time. I owe a few people a few different things. It’s about time I handle that, too.

So here I am with a fresh start on 2013. And it’s Spring Break, so it’s a good week to kick it all off. Stay tuned here this week for more news and updates, and thank you all for sticking around while I’ve been quiet.

Your patience will pay off!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Blurbage

It’s not uncommon for writers to ask one another for blurbs, the promotional quotes that often appear on covers or in a book’s front matter. I’ve got a small collection of them myself, and I’ve provided a handful over the past several years. However, it’s been a while since anyone’s asked me for one.

Until Monday, that is. That afternoon, two separate blurb requests rolled into my email inbox.

I’m not quite sure how I ended up with the requests. Don’t get me wrong, these are both friends of mine and good writers, and I’m more than happy to help them out, but I’m not sure what good my name will do them. Why would my word carry weight if I haven’t been able to get a novel published since 2001? How do people know who I am if I’ve been only sporadically published since 2003? Or if my productivity has been crap since 2005? Sure, there’s the Stoker thing, but does anyone really care?

Or am I just being a neurotic freakshow again?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Pros and Cons of Illness

Between flu, pneumonia, and now some kind of killer, sinus-assaulting virus, this winter has just plain sucked for me. It all started with a fever on Saturday, progressed to sinus headaches, and now is a combination of both, complete with the occasional fat blob of ugly, brown-green snot streaked with red. This has given me plenty of time to weigh the pros and cons of being sick.

Pro: Another day off work.

Con: Too frickin’ worn out or lightheaded to get any work done at home, either.

Sadly, the latter includes writing. The fever just kills my concentration, so my planned three days of writing became three days of vegging out in front of the tube. Which brings us to the next set:

Pro: I’ve been able to eliminate a lot of old programs from the DVR

Con: Boredom.

Yes, I cried like a baby at the fade-out to the Rescue Me season finale, and I’m glad to have finally burned through the second half of Damages. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was better than I expected, and The Brothers Grimm was worse than I expected. There’s only so much TV I can watch in a stretch, though, and I far exceeded that limit and got bored. Boredom in creative types leads to:

Pro: Learning about things like nasal irrigation.

Con: Actually trying things like nasal irrigation.

Oh yes. I tried it. The Wife was thrilled to see me using her fine China creamer to do it, too. This created its own subset of pro and con, so I’ll indent them:

Pro: It actually works.

Con: Salt water across a nose you’ve rubbed raw over the weekend burns.

I’m thinking less salt next time. Or maybe something besides coarse kosher salt… But hey, it did work. Flushed loose all kinds of nasties. Gross.

Pro: Being home for the arrival of the iMac.

Con: Being too damn fuzz-brained to set it up.

Yeah, the iMac’s here. Big, sleek, white box. Unfortunately I never had the time to set up the office for it, and I’m still too worn out to do anything about it tonight. Heck, I can hardly stay focused on this simple blog post.

In the end, the cons have it.

I hate being sick.

My nose smells salty.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Writing on the Road

Road Warrior

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.


Circumstances aside, I often welcome the chance to write on the road.

At home, I’m surrounded by distractions. If I feel like procrastinating, there are home projects to be done: seal off the attic fan, bag & board the last several months’ worth of comics, or clean out the utility room. If I’m feeling lazy, there’s the tube and a stack of DVD’s I haven’t watched yet. Then of course there’s the rugrats and the pets.

On the road, there’s little else to do with my downtime. I take care of the travel business and then I’m either in a car or in a hotel room. On this particular trip there were no real sites to see, and even if there were I was far too tired to get out and see them. So I fire up the laptop, log on to the free wireless, and go to town.

Tap-tap-tapity-tap until I’m too tired to move my fingers. Edit and post in the morning, and back to trip business.

The car’s a nice place to write, too. We had an hour to the kid drop-off site, and then three hours to our destination. I conned the wife into driving that second leg, propped the laptop on its namesake anatomy, and went to town.

Trips go so much faster when you lose yourself in your writing. You don’t even notice the radio, which can be helpful when the wife’s in the mood for country music. If I could have left my internal editor home and just let the fingers fly unrestrained, I’d probably have gotten even more done.

Hmm. Maybe I need another vacation.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

New DVR Live At Last

I finally got around to posting the latest episode of Down Vendetta Road to Muy Mal from the road this morning. You can find episode 10, “Conversation Starter”, right here.

It’s a good thing my wife let me write in the car, or this might have been delayed until next week. I’m looking forward to things settling down soon, so I can get some consistency rolling for the next few episodes.

Look for episode 11 by the end of the month.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

2007: Year in Review

If someone were to ask me how this year went, my first reaction would be to call it a write-off. Then I got to thinking about it, and it actually hasn’t been so bad after all. Let’s look back, shall we?

I started the year by selling the German rights to Deadliest of the Species to publisher Otherworld Verlag. The book was pitched to retailers this month, and it will see publication early next year under the title Das Tödliche Geschlecht. I followed that up over the summer with another book sale which I’m still asked to keep under my hat.

Restore from Backup, my novella collaboration with JF Gonzalez, was released from Bad Moon Books. The hardcovers sold out on preorder, but you can still get copies of the trade paperback.

Moonstone Books published The Phantom Chronicles, a prose anthology of Phantom tales including my short story “The Servants of Set”. Moonstone is also the publisher of my comic book Werewolves: Call of the Wild.

I received word today that In Delirium II is shipping. This anthology includes a reprint of “Crazy for You” by myself and Brian Keene. This story previously appeared in Crime Spree. The book doesn’t appear to be listed on the Horror Mall yet, but I imagine it will be up for order soon.

Finally, I attended two comic cons — one large and one small — and did signings at two comic shops. I sold enough comics to pay for the trip at the small comic con, and I was well satisfied with the results of the large con and the signings. I also had fun, and probably picked up a few new fans to boot.

I’d like to have accomplished more, of course, but I don’t feel I should be complaining.

In personal news, I joined the Academy of Okinawan Karate in March and started studying Shuri-ryu, a style of karate. I climbed the ranks from white belt through yellow and to blue belt, and I’ve learned a lot of cool things. Between classes and home exercise, I’ve managed to lose 30 pounds and I feel better than I have in years. I’d have to say that’s the best accomplishment of the year. My class and workout schedule may have put a dent in my writing productivity, but I feel like my health improvements will keep me writing for years to come.

I joined an active Flickr photo group called 52 Weeks, where users post a picture a week for a year. I did fine for a while, but the last few months I’ve fallen way behind. I would like to have posted an honest week 1 and week 52 pic right now, but it’ll have to be off a little bit. You can, however, see my contributions so far right here.

Finally, I expanded my computing horizons by picking up a MacBook at work. I’m sure I’ll be talking more about it in the future (and I’m writing this post on it now), but this gets me closer to being a triple threat in desktop computing.

There are a few things I wish I’d accomplished or wish I’d done better, but hey, that’s what next year is for. Overall, I’m content to call 2007 a win.

Onward and upward.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Down Vendetta Road: The Story So Far

The Muy Mal relaunch is imminent! Because I’ve left Down Vendetta Road hanging for so long, I thought it might be a good idea to post a complete collection of the first nine episodes (thanks to Tod for the suggestion). If you’d like to read it, just follow this link:

Down Vendetta Road: The Story So Far

This is a chance for current readers to get caught up again as well as a good jumping-on point for those of you who haven’t read any of the Asphalt & Alchemy tales (or any of the Muy Mal works, for that matter) yet.

While I’m at it, I’d like to give a big thanks to Russ Dickerson, the official artist for Muy Mal. Russ really went out of his way to change the look of the site for the relaunch, and we think he did a fantastic job. Thanks again, Russ! You da man!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Muy Mal to Return on January 1st for a Limited Engagement

Muy Mal, the place for free fiction about very bad things, will return January 1, 2008 for a limited engagement. Originally conceived by authors Weston Ochse, Mike Oliveri and John Urbancik as a shared-world, online fiction universe, Muy Mal exploded through RSS readers and podcast clients on January 1, 2005, providing fans with more than 60,000 words of dark adventure culminating in a spectacular, end-of-the-world event called Cataclysm in February 2006.

Since then each author has been concentrating on other projects. But a convergence of events has generated renewed interest in the stories and characters the authors left in fictional limbo.

“I’ve had a host of comments wondering about Seeker,” says John Urbancik. “The fans loved the character, and frankly, I miss him. It’s time to bring him back and tie up some loose ends.”

“I’ve also received emails asking me about the zombies and saints,” says Weston Ochse, author of the Chronicles of the Black Bishop story arc. “I left a very sympathetic character strapped to a windmill. I think I should figure out a way to get him down, you know?”

Muy Mal (loosely translated as very bad in Spanish) was the brainchild of Mike Oliveri, author of the Asphalt and Alchemy story arc and the webmaster. “Muy Mal began as an experiment in online fiction delivery. Thanks to the power and flexibility of WordPress, the stories are accessible in a familiar, blog-like structure where each new chapter appears at the top of each writer’s section.” Protected under the Creative Commons license, the authors want people to read the stories, download them, copy them, and give them to their neighbors; just as long as they’re read.

So what exactly is Muy Mal? It’s a world very much like our own, similar in time and place, but just about thirty degrees off reality. It is a world in which magic never ceased to exist; a world that is a very bad place. Is it horror? It’s Muy Muy Horror! There might be magic and there might be fantastical creatures, but in the end everything is horror. Oliveri’s work has been described as Sam Spade meets Stephen King. Ochse’s stories have been described as Clive Barker meets Quentin Tarantino. Urbancik’s dark fiction has been described as Clive Cussler meets Neil Gaiman. More than just flattering, these comparisons highlight how horrific the stories are.

“We’ll run until June 1, 2008, then call it quits,” says Oliveri. After that, they have other options. The Muy Mal Triumvirate has been approached by several publishers asking about a future book. El Cazador, part of Ochse’s Chronicles of the Black Bishop, has been looked at as a possible comic book. An independent movie producer has also queried the three about the possibility of a future project.

“So far nothing’s certain other than June 1 will be the end of Muy Mal in its current incarnation,” says Urbancik. “As far as the future goes, we’ve made no promises to anyone. We’ll keep our options open.”

Called ‘an exercise in innovative thinking,’ by Rue Morgue Magazine, all the stories have been archived and are available to read, download, and in some cases, hear. The authors urge readers to take the opportunity to read the back stories at www.muymal.com so they can be ready for the January 1 return.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Enough Tech! How 'Bout Writin'?

I’ve been blogging just about everything but my writing the last few weeks, so it’s high time I at least mentioned it before people start to forget that’s what I really want to do in the first place. Here’s a status report on several projects:

I’ve been thinking The Malice Engine may see life as a graphic novel rather than a prose novel. The content lends itself well to a visual presentation, and to be perfectly honest, it will probably see print a lot faster that way. I also think it would make a kickass animated feature if I can figure out a way to pitch it that way sometime. I’ve been sitting on a complete chapter-by-chapter outline for some time now.
The German edition of Deadliest of the Species is being shopped to German and Austrian book retailers this month. The publisher is seeing a lot of growth and is doing well with their current products, so I have a reason to feel good about my chances. I’m hoping to be of greater help to the promotion efforts once the book hits.

The top secret book still comes out next year. I still need to write a novella that will go on the back of the book, but it appears we’ve got an artist on board. I don’t even want to say who that is, but I will tell you that if you’ve been following the horror small press, you’ve seen his work.

The wrap-up to the story started with “To Fight With Monsters” in 4×4 and continued in To Travel Among Men in New Dark Voices is now officially two novellas. The first draft of the first novella, To Confront the Enemy, has been sent to two prereaders and one has given me good feedback already. The second novella, To Rise from the Ashes, is fully plotted out and just needs to be written. If all goes according to plan, the final published package will be the short story, the first novella, and these two novellas all combined to form the complete To Fight With Monsters saga.

There has been some interest expressed in Powerless, my next novel (unless you call To Fight With Monsters a novel). Not a solid sale, mind, but the potential is there. I’ve taken stock in what I have so far, and I have more finished than I thought. Some cleanup and a solid synopsis and I should be able to drop a pitch on a desk early in the new year.

Patrick Hoover, the artist of Wounded Gods, and I may be working on a different project soon, something more suited to his style. He’s got a few big events in his family life right now, but I hope we can tell you more about it in another month or two. I’ll be talking to a few other people about Wounded Gods in the near future.

Remember Muy Mal? Contrary to popular opinion, John, Weston and I do, too. Honest. We all just happened to get sidetracked by larger projects at the same time. In that respect, I guess we can call Muy Mal a success. The three of us are currently discussing a relaunch with an eye to complete the existing stories and wrap up the shebang. It’s patently obvious we can’t do this indefinitely as we originally planned, but we sure don’t want to leave everyone hanging. I’ll have more on this when we get it all nailed down.

I’m finishing up a zombie short story this week. It’s tentatively titled “My Husband the Zombie” and it will be submitted to a publisher I’ve been working with recently. I don’t want to say who until it’s officially accepted, but the good news is I was invited to the anthology and the plot has already been approved.

That’s the bulk of it. Not a major change from my previous updates, but I have moved forward some. There are a few other things in the works, but nothing near solid enough to be worth mentioning. Unfortunately I’m finding my keyboard time for December dwindling more and more, but January’s looking good.

More to come with the New Year.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

A Pair of Writers' Resources

I found two things that may be of interest to writers.

First up is Writer’s Cafe, which I found via Linux.com. It’s a multi-platform program that lets you organize just about everything having to do with your writing, ranging from outlining to collecting notes and reference material. I’m not big on this kind of thing because I don’t want to spend more time fiddling than writing, but if hyper-organization is your thing, give it a shot.

Second is the Visual Dictionary Online, which I found on Lifehacker. Because you can’t ask Google “What’s the name of that thing that connects to this other thing in a door lock?”, getting details right in a chunk of prose can get frustrating. With the Visual Dictionary, all you have to do is find a picture of the object in question and boom, you’ve got a word and a definition. Way cool.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Question of the Month

Two people have asked me if I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. My answer went something like this:

AAAHH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Okay, deep breath. Seriously.

AAAHH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Um, no.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Horror Web Reviews Restore from Backup

Horror Web’s HorrorWench has posted a good review of Restore from Backup, my collaborative novella with JF Gonzalez published by Bad Moon Books. She has kindly given us 4 1/2 stars out of 5. Among her comments:

Where this gets interesting in afterthought is the style. It’s an interesting collaboration. Having read both of them, I would never put them together–but it works very well, as they feed off each other’s strengths and dilute the weaknesses. Smooth writing that effortlessly makes all those tales you hear about collaboration seem silly and over-dramatized.

There you have it. If you’re a fan of either of us, buy this book!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.