My Promise as a Writer

I promise to entertain you to the best my twisted little mind can manage. I will take you from the light, and into darkness. I might even let you see the sunrise at the end of the journey, but that I can't promise. My stories will sweep the hair from you brow, leave your stomach in knots, and suck the air from your lungs. But no matter how far we descend, I will offer you a fragment of hope to cling to. I will treat you to dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and anything that falls into the strange and disturbing. Will we re-emerge into the light? Well, that is the point of taking the journey. I hope you will join me on these adventures.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

WRITER PROFILE: CLAYTON DIGGS

A blog by Clayton Diggs and J. M. Tresaugue



As I sat down to write this blog, a bit of hypocrisy came to light. I don’t promote anything other than my writing career. That is not entirely true. I also promote good to excellent books, and the writers behind them. This blog serves as an amendment to previous statements on promoting/advertising. The joy that comes with reading a good book endures for the lifetime (or memory) of the reader. That joy is enhanced when coming across a great find, and passing it along to friends, family, and the strangers you meet in the bookstores and coffee shops. This month’s great find is the writing of Clayton Diggs.


Diggs made himself known when pointing out a few errors in my blogs. Since then, I have been following his work, and having a great time. Diggs’ writing doesn’t merely show promise. He is talented! His blogs are well crafted, filled with humor, and conclude with a recipe well chosen for the subject matter. (Been looking for a coffee related recipe on his site, but have not had any luck so far.) Perhaps the recipes are what lifts him above most bloggers.  No. It’s his style, his crisp and clear writing, the humor, and the recipes. Clayton Diggs’ future as a master in his craft is secured. At the time of writing, Diggs is working on his first book. Unfortunately, the title has been locked in a firebox, buried in the dank depths of McDougal’s Cave, and guarded by a horde of rabid bats. Regardless, I look forward to Diggs’ debut novel, which he intends to publish as an independent writer.


Diggs and his writing style are best described by the writer himself:


Clayton Diggs is an author from totally in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the Deep Dark South. So deep and dark, it seems, that neither Clayton nor anyone he knows has any damn idea where the hell they are. Most people where Clayton lives can’t find their own town on a map, and most have never even seen a map. In Clayton Diggs’ hometown, there are more raccoons than human beings. Clayton often shoots raccoons, though not out of malice but simply because they mess with his trash. He really does hope that the raccoons he offs with a shotgun go straight to critter heaven.

Clayton Diggs currently has several books of fiction in the works, soon to be available for general consumption for Kindle, Nook, and on Audible.com. His writing, like his blogs, shows flashes of the dulled rapier wit that has made Southern humor famous throughout the land. At this moment, Clayton isn’t available for comment because he just blasted another damned raccoon and is trying to skin it. If you’re following him on Twitter, you know this to be true. If you’re savvy on skinning raccoons, please do send him a message, or tweet him on twitter. He’s getting kind of desperate, and when he’s desperate he takes to drinking, and when he takes to drinking, he often ends up in jail, and even though the sheriff is his cousin and will release him in the morning, it’s still not an experience he’s real keen on.
Clayton Diggs is a somewhat bitter divorce√©, but he does hold out some hope for future romance. He loves his dogs, he loves his truck, and he loves sending boxes of horseshit to his ex-wife. He’s an optimist, if an ambiguously ironic one, whatever that means. We would ask him to clarify, but once again, there’s the raccoon issue, so we’ll have to wait.

Follow the link to read more by Clayton Diggs’: http://claytondiggs.com/

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

THE NEVER ENDING REVISION



A poem is never finished, only abandoned.--Paul Valery



The same can easily be said of novels and blogs, or almost any written endeavor. That one sentence could have been written better. How did that typo make it into the manuscript after all those proof readings? My answer is simple. I’m too close to the subject matter. I know what I intended to write, so that is how I read the segment. Thankfully, my cadre of volunteer proofreaders is excellent. They are under orders to make the pages bleed red ink, and they do. They are brutal with their recommendations. Mistakes, however, still surface, like an obstinate poo surfing the eddies in the toilet bowl. Want proof? I received a message from Clayton Diggs in regard to a couple blog postings: “Dude, I like your blog! Check for typos: ‘There maybe some interest’ should read ‘There may be...’. Also, ‘I must read’ = ‘A must read.’ I reviewed the blogs, and he was right. The changes were made, the blogs reposted.


Diggs is a stranger to me beyond his tweets, and this translates to him taking a significant risk in contacting me. Not everyone enjoys having their mistakes pointed out, particularly those made in a public forum. (I appreciate the manner in which he handled the matter.) He had no idea how I’d react, so I hope he is as pleased with me as I am with him.


With the upcoming release of Shadows Beyond the Flames and Other Stories, I will be placed in a situation in which I have less control over who reads the collection of shorts. The future readers will find mistakes. It’s unavoidable. Take a look at your shelves if you want proof. Pick up your favorite book (I’m reaching for It), and flip through the pages. You are guaranteed to find at minimum one typo and a sloppy sentence or two. Chances are, the book you picked up was written by an established writer who went through the traditional publishing process. These books we are holding have been picked apart by the writers, their cadre of proof readers, agents, editors, and typesetters. They did a marvelous job. The book looks great, feels important, and, in a few years, will smell great. Who is to blame for the grammatical errors, plot holes, and sloppy sentences? Fault lies with no one but the author. This is true even when the error is unintentionally inserted during the typesetting. After all, it's the writer's name on the book cover, not the typesetter's. Errors in publication must be dealt with, so let’s get started.

The editing never ends. Misspelled words and other typos were found as my wife and I worked on formatting Shadows Beyond the Flames, giving us a chance to make last minute corrections. I’m sure there are more to be found by fresh eyes. That’s where you, the readers, come in. Like school text books, I’m open for business when readers report errors. Being an independent writer/publisher, I can afford to include the corrections in following editions. This is a good thing! Nothing frustrates me more than spotting an error in a big name author’s novel, especially when the book went to press ten times, or made it to an illustrated anniversary edition. The publishing industry knows it is cheaper to leave the typos in place rather than typeset the novel yet again. Independent publishers have more wiggle room in this regard (all due to technology). The errors can be fixed. That misplaced comma must be removed, and there corrected to they’re. “The king sits upon a thrown until he his throne down by his subjects. . .” Wait! Reverse that! Such typos can be the kiss of death for independent writers/publishers since they carry the stench of hack, amauture, dilettante--whether deserved or not.


Do I have a big ego? No! It’s HUGE! And it has to be if I’m going to tell readers to drop that lovely cash for my book. Yet I’m grounded enough to know I’m not Midas on the keyboard. (Well . . . not all the time.) I have no choice but to accept and seek criticism if I hope to grow as a writer. I may politely disagree but not until I take a look at the writing in question. As an independent writer, I don’t have the years of experience and knowledge contained within the name of that publishing company printed on the spine of the book you grabbed. I have myself, a cadre of proof readers, and people like Clayton Diggs who is willing to give a fellow a hand without expecting anything in return. (Please do not take my statements to mean Mr. Diggs is available to proofread unsolicited manuscripts.)

As the release of “Shadows Beyond the Flames” approaches, work is underway on my website. We (that is the royal we because I’m a royal pain) are constructing a forum where readers will be able to identify the poop that made its way into publication. Those recommendations, if agreed upon, will find their way into the second edition. I also give credit where credit is due. Participants in the forum will find their name in the acknowledgments after every nugget of poop has been gathered and flushed for a cleaner second edition.


My job is to provide my readers with entertaining stories. Mistakes tend to rip readers out of the story, forcing them to puzzle out the writer’s intention. I’d rather keep you, the reader, engaged in the story rather than reviewing your knowledge of literature as your eyes pass over a “whether” that should have been “weather.” I’m certain those instance can be eliminated with your help.


Thank you for your forthcoming criticism.


To learn more about J. M. Tresaugue visit: http://jmtresauguebooks.webs.com/

To Learn more about Clayton Diggs visit: http://claytondiggs.com/

Sunday, July 17, 2011

WHY I HATE BLOGGING AND WHY I STILL DO IT



I hate writing blogs. I hate being in a position where I must write one blog a week, preferably more, if I hope to remain relevant. And really, what is the purpose of writing a blog? Promotion. The purpose of writing a blog is to promote either yourself, a philosophy, a business, or a product. Only one of the above applies to me.


I’m not terribly interested in promoting myself as a person. I lead a boring life, planted at a desk day in and day out, writing and revising. I clean house, mow the lawn, and cook dinner Monday through Friday. I walk the dog and ignore the cats. What’s there to promote? I suppose I could write a blog about hiking with the dog. There may be some interest in the stories (look at the success of “Marley and Me”), but the need to tell those tales of tail wagging can be satisfied in a short conversation with those who are truly interested in my dumb mutt. (I’m counting an audience of three who’d patiently listen to the dog stories.) Do I tell people that my dog likes to drink river water? Show me a dog who doesn’t like to drink from a river or creek. “I’m in the wilds! I’m drinking water from a stream! And it’s not in an f-ing bowl!” Cute, but uneventful. I tend to shy away from cute stories for my reading and writing. It’s not me. Neither am I interested in complaining about the perceived losers filing in and out of the box store all day long. Not interested in writing about the mundane. That is not the type of writer I am. There are plenty of folks out there who can take the common events of everyday life, and transform the dog walk into an amazing adventure. They are damn good at what they do. But that is their thing, not mine. Neither am I interested in writing about the triumphs and disappointments of my daughters. They have a right to privacy, which is why I use the dog for examples--he has no concept of privacy. Basically, there is no need to promote J. M. Tresaugue as a person. Our lives are not that different. I have a journal if I want to write about my life. That way I am only boring myself, and not you.1


Do I have a philosophy to promote? I’m pretty sure everyone does. My views tend to surface in my fiction writing, but that is an illness all writers suffer from. Do they belong in a blog? Not for me. I’ve made my own choices in politics and religion, and encourage others to do the same. I refuse to tell people that their life will be better if they vote a certain way, or what they should do with their faith. I have no right to interfere in your business! I’ll interfere in the dog’s life, but that’s because he is living in my house, eating on my dime, and pooping in my yard; all without any return. (He actually thinks I like him!) I grudgingly interferer in my daughters’ lives, but only to keep them safe and to encourage them to think for themselves. (They actually think I like them! Okay, that is true.) No point to chronicle a personal philosophy here since my philosophy is not interested in beating up your philosophy. (Did I contradict myself? Yes!)


Should I write I blog to promote a business? Hell no! Especially if I’m not getting paid! The only business I’d promote would be my own, but I don’t own a business. (The only exceptions are for the rare occurrences when I’m completely blown away by a company accomplishing something amazing, like colonizing Mars.)


Now we come to promoting a product. Do any of us truly need yet another advertisement? Advertisements are on our clothes, on our license plate holders, on the products we buy, storefronts, billboards, movies, youtube, social networking sites. They arrive unsolicited in our mailboxes. Open your eyes and you’re assaulted with advertisements. This includes the corporate propaganda in your office. The only time we are free of advertisements is when we sleep. (But I’m sure there are teams of assholes working to change this--we are talking eight hours out of the day when the erection pill companies can’t reach you. Do you think they are happy about that?) So do you really need another advertisement? Probably not. But I do. I write fiction because I’m driven. Perhaps addicted is a better word. Find me on a day when I have been denied the chance to work on a story and you won’t find much to like. I see no purpose in sweating over the keyboard, revising and revising until I’m tired of reviewing the same old pages (and then revising once more) if I’m not going to do my damnedest to get the stories into the hands of readers. I’d stick to journaling if I didn’t want people to read what I write. I sit in front of the computer day in and day out for us--to keep me sane, and to entertain you. I put days and weeks into the short stories that will take you less than an hour to read. I sweat for years over the longer works. The short stories in “Shadows Beyond the Flames" were accumulated over a five year period, with most penned between 2009 and 2010. I think a few bucks is a worthy trade for all the work that goes into story creation (if I didn’t my wife and I would still have room for more bookcases in our house).


So that is why I blog. To promote my work and to keep you updated on my projects and events. And that is also why I hate blogging. You worked hard for your money, and now I’m working hard to exchange your money for books. Yes, I am conflicted. Unfortunately, there is no way out. If I am to get my book into your hands then I have no choice but to advertise. Besides, I have to feed the kids somehow. Won’t anyone think of the children?

1 Furthermore, my wife will be the first to tell you this blog does not represent my personality. (She is going to be pissed she is a footnote!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Author's Note from "Shadows Beyond the Flames."

Author’s Note I: You Really Should Read This First

My wife once asked, “Could you write a story with a happy ending?” She was reading the first draft of Victim at the time while I was scanning the pages of Asimov’s Science Fiction. After a moment of contemplation, I came to the conclusion that writing happy stories might be impossible for me. Shrugging, I answered her question the best I could. “Sometimes Always was suppose to be an uplifting story of a father reminiscing about his daughter." But even that story
clings to its fair share of death and murder. I deserved every bit of eye rolling in regard to my lame defense. The Groaning Attic is perhaps the only story I’ve written that comes anywhere close to a happy resolution.

Many of the stories contained within this volume are filled with folks being maimed, dying, and having an all around frightening time. Yes, there is some humor, but don’t expect much. When I write, I tend to go to the dark places, the places that send me scrambling under the blankets late at night. Don’t ask why because I don’t have an answer for you. I’ll let you know once I figure it out for myself. I do know, however, I’m not alone in my desire to look into the darker side of life. The proliferation of horror and dark fantasy books, magazines, fanzines, and ezines are proof enough I’m in good company. So if you are timid or loath the ominous sounds in the night, then these stories are not for you. Don’t worry. This probably means you are well adjusted. (Hopefully you bought a paper copy so you can take it down to the used bookstore, and get something useful out of this volume.) If your passions are similar to mine, then you are about
to embark on a series of adventures that will not disappoint. I enjoyed writing these stories, and I’m arrogant enough to say you will enjoy reading them.
A helpful hint for those who insist on continuing from here: The worse of the gore is found in the first short story, The Manual. Please proceed on from here as you see fit.

Monday, July 4, 2011

About "Shadows Beyond the Flames and Other Stories"


J. M. Tresaugue’s Shadows Beyond the Flames and Other Stories proves he is a versatile writer. His stories span science fiction, fantasy, horror, revenge, and the plain strange with social commentary thrown in for kicks.

Shadow Beyond the Flames Cover Art