Archive for Brandon Layng

PUG: The Making of a NaNoWriMo Horror Novel

Posted in Contests, News, PUG/NaNoWriMo with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2013 by brandonlayng

PUG: The Making of a NaNoWriMo Horror Novel

November is almost upon us, which means crazy meatheads like me are stretching our fingers in preparation to cram 50K of words into a month from out of thin air. Since I haven’t been interviewed in a while and my two zodiac signs (Leo & Rooster) are growling and strutting for attention, I figure I’d introduce you to my November project, PUG, by asking myself a few questions. In the process maybe you’ll understand what inspires me, why people get the crazy idea to let their mind & fingers spazz out for a month, and possibly – hopefully – I will make you want to either follow my progress or even better, join me on this fun-freakin-tastic journey.

Who/What/When/Where/Why?

– I first heard about NaNoWriMo, a challenge for writers (amateurs and professionals alike) to write 50,000 words in one month, from my friend, Jodi Lee, back in 2007. You can find out more info about the challenge and the non-profit organization at http://www.nanowrimo.org . My first two novels took me forever to write and I thought I could use the extra motivation and a deadline for a real word count would put the pressure on me I needed to write my third book. I won that first year and the one after that. Those two books are the still as yet unpublished Sin in Skin and A Walk Amongst the Dead. I’ve worked on a few other novels between then and now, and a whole slew of short stories (some of those have been published, lol). Mostly, I’ve been editing those two NaNo books, because they are awesome. I mentioned in a previous post how I got a little help from one of the writers I most admire, Ray Garton (read his books and you’ll understand why I think he’s totally fucking cool). After his read-through, I was humbled and encouraged by his advice. I then turned into a hermit with his head buried in draft after draft of his novel.

*BTW I’m finally getting up the guts to send AWAtD out to one of two publishers I most want to find a home for my book with. The problem is, they are both holding open submissions and I can’t decide which to send it to. A little advice on that front would be a great help everyone. So share your two cents in the comments section, please.

What is PUG about? Give the people a synopsis, why don’t you?

Okay, here’s the official NaNo synopsis:

Bob Ballard and his wife, Linda both grew up with a family dog and they want their newborn daughter to enjoy the same experience. They bundle up baby Alexandra and make a trip to the local animal shelter. There Linda falls in love with a pug. They adopt her and decide to name her, Sugar (“because she’s so sweet”), but baby Alex doesn’t seem to trust the new family pet. Her parents think their little girl will grow to love her new puppy.

But they don’t know Sugar. And they didn’t bother to ask where the shelter found the dog.

Soon neighborhood cats will go missing and the crazy cat lady next door will accuse Sugar of being behind the disappearances. Bob begins to suspect he should have trusted his daughter.
Will he convince Linda their dog is evil before it’s too late? Or will she have to see the danger herself before she will listen?

What inspired the idea to make the monster an evil Pug dog?

A couple of years ago my wife adopted a pug from a local shelter. She named her, Cupcake. Cupcake was a rescue from a puppy mill, was only a year old and had already given birth to a litter of pups, and had spent most of her so far short life kept in a kennel. If you’ve ever met a puppy mill dog you know they are either aggressive or nervous. Both of our dogs (we also have a Boston Terrier – my puppy – named, Mickey) are puppy mill rescue dogs. But whereas Mickey is obsessively clean and rarely makes a mess outside of the area of his dog pad, Cupcake is not. She eats her poo. I tell everyone she does. It annoys the hell out of me. She’ll poop and pee on her pad or in the vicinity of her pad and then will eat her poo to spread the mess around. She mushes it into the floor, smearing it all over. We’ve researched the behavior. We’ve tried dozens of solutions. None work. I understand why she does it. But it still drives me nuts. Sometimes, I think she does it to be a little evil. That’s ridiculous though. She’s too cute to be evil. Or is she?

You’re taking a whole month, putting everything else aside, and writing a short novel/novella. What challenges might stand in your way? How will you keep yourself motivated?

Ha, ha, ha, ha, and ha! It’s going to be a challenge for sure. My wife just broke her foot. She’s the one who keeps our home running. She’s amazing at it. If I’m the home security, she would be considered the home manager. I have Crohn’s disease and as a result of all the bleeding, I’m severely anemic and fatigued, which means I can’t keep up with the day-to-day around here at the speed she does. One of my other duties around the house is taxi driver for everyone (including extended family) and that means when someone needs to go somewhere I’ll need to put down the writing to get in the driver’s seat. I’ll also be spending half of my day doing the final polish on that other manuscript I was taking about and preparing a submission package. I have a five-year old and a twelve-year old (who’s Asperger’s Autistic).

To deal with all this and get those words desperately down on electronic/real paper I plan on stealing any second I can to sit and write. I’ll be seeking the help of my pain medication, smokes, and a crap ton of movies. I’ll also make sure my inspirational books like, On Writing by Stephen King, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, and The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass are close by. I will be dragging my laptop into the bathroom with me – not in the shower, of course.

And I will be learning to say, “Leave me alone. I’m writing.” To everybody.

I also plan on writing an update on my progress once a week and posting it to my blog to keep me honest. I’ll be looking for your help with this, my readers. Your encouragement is much appreciated. In my next posting I’ll be asking you to send me pics of your evil looking dogs so I can post them on the blog for all to see. Get your cameras ready. The winners of most evil dogs will be in for some canine-related prizes.

Any advice to others who are considering taking the November NaNo plunge?

Yeah, don’t stress about it. This is suppose to be challenging, but it’s also meant to be fun. I had more fun then stress by the time I was done – both years I won. I remember the astonished sense of pride I felt when I managed in the final push to write 9K of words in a 3 ½ hour coffee shop bonanza. I bragged to all of my friends I’d done it. None of them had ever attempted such a feat. They thought it was pretty amazing.

Now, what if I didn’t finish in those two years, how would I feel? I’d have been proud of myself for trying and I would have kept on trying. Those books I started working on wouldn’t sit on a shelf gathering dust because (like what actually happened both times) I would have taken a month off and went right back to writing them. Even at 50K the book is rarely done. Your first draft will most often be only half-finished and then there are the drafts that come after as you edit. Think of it like a trip into outer space. You have your rockets strapped on and you thrust out of the atmosphere, that’s NaNoWriMo work, the thrust for adjustment and the coasting that comes after isn’t so hard, but it will take longer. Finishing the book just becomes your way of maintaining orbit. Either way, you’re out of this world until you are completely done and the book is off to publishers. Then you’ll be so excited because it’s time to blast off again.

Good luck to all of you getting your NaNo groove on this year. And to the others… I hope to hear the clicking of your keyboard during NaNoWriMo 2014.

Now a message from our sponsor.

Pugsalicious dog food. Filled with meat by-products in a blood-based gravy. Your pug will say, “Yummy” and keep that rascal from making a home in your empty stomach cavity.

A WRITER’S JOURNEY: Part 17

Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , on February 2, 2013 by brandonlayng

A Writer’s Journey: Part 17
Not So New Ideas

How are you supposed to feel when you find out a totally cool idea – possibly the basis of a scientific theory – is not so new and a genius like Stephen Hawking already came up with it?

I was struck by this story idea one night while working at an apple packing plant (I’m not going to say what it is, because I may still write it one day if I can ever figure out how) but it involves people in parallel dimensions where time runs in opposite directions. I was excited when the concept hit me. Here I was, with not only what I thought was a great story, but possibly a theory that no one else had considered.

Then a few years later I buy the Sliders television series on DVD and realize the show created a season finale around this theory, which Stephen Hawking had already called “Time’s Arrow”.

I felt so completely disappointed.

It isn’t the only time it’s happened.

I wrote a story called, “The Last Concert”, about a band that needs to keep playing a concert to calm a crowd of undead fans hungry for their brains. If you’ve watched Dance of the Dead you already know they had the same idea, apparently at about the same time as I did. I wrote my story for submission to an anthology called, Bits of the Dead, the story was rejected and published a while later. At the time I wrote it, I wasn’t even aware the movie existed. I watched the movie and said, “Hey, that’s my idea!” My wife concurred, as surprised as I was. After researching the movie, I discovered it came out around the same time I wrote the story, the times too close together for a movie to be produced from a stolen idea that hadn’t even been published yet, even if someone had grabbed it from the submissions’ pile.

One of those weird coincidences, I guess.

The thing is, it makes me wonder: is it possible to still have a new, original, unique idea of your own? Or are we doomed because there might be someone else out there who could have the same idea as you within a few years of it blossoming in your mind?

The world keeps changing and as it does new soil is laid for ideas to grow. Or in some cases these ideas will shape the future.

So go forth word gardeners and cultivate. Remember, everyone uses the same flowers. It’s how you arrange them that makes your stories a thing of beauty.

STUFFING – Flash Fiction

Posted in Free Fiction with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by brandonlayng

STUFFING

By Brandon Layng

Ted pulled himself out of the heap of garbage and toys. His young friend, Garrett, had moved out and left him homeless. He scanned the street to the south. Then the north. Downtown was in that direction, probably his best bet for finding what he needed.

Food topped his list. He felt emptied out inside. If he was going to survive and have any hope of being taken into a new home, he had to eat and fill himself out.

Get cuddly.

Get clean.

Get a home.

In that order.

The journey to downtown was fraught with peril. He dodged cars, their eyes like searchlights pinpointing him with their stare. A big slab of black and brown muscle, Ted thought it might be a mutated dog, with a spiked collar chased him for a block and a half. The dog must have gotten loose from a yard, three links of chain hung off the collar.

He managed to lose the dog by climbing into a dumpster, but not before his leg was nearly ripped from his hip. After twenty minutes had passed, he poked his head over the lip of metal bin. The Rottweiler/Hellhound mix was waiting patiently.

A scruffy tabby wandered into the alley, did a double-take at the dog, realized its mistake and made a beeline into traffic – the dog hot on its tail.

Trouble gone, it occurred to Ted that food might be right under his butt if he actually looked for it. He scanned the pile, deciding on a place to start. A black spot buzzed in front of his eyes. He swatted at the noisome fly with a paw. He enjoyed the splat as the pest connected with the inside of the dumpster.

Bracing against the metal rim, he began rummaging through the heap of trash. His nub of a tail twitched as he rooted around crumpled bank statements and left-over Chinese food.

Buried underneath a computer monitor, his black eyes spied the treasure he’d been digging for. Well, not quite the thing he’d hoped to find – a nice synthetic cotton blend would be nice – but it was good enough.

He popped the pink insulation into his mouth and hopped down to the pavement.

With a smile on his terry cloth face, Ted adjusted his bowtie and skipped to the alley’s mouth.

The insulation left him stuffed, and it would surely itch on the way.

All he had to do now, was find a carwash or birdbath, then place himself in the path of a kid. He’d be home free.

***********************************************************************************************************

If you enjoyed this little tale feel free to post a comment. Hopefully, I’ll have some more flash fiction pieces like this I can put on the site in the future. If I get enough of a response I’ll make sure to keep posting them while I send others off into the submissions pile.

A WRITER’S JOURNEY: Part 16.1

Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2011 by brandonlayng

A WRITER’S JOURNEY: Part 16.1

The Books that Started it ALL

I won’t say it’s true for all writers (exception to every rule and all that jazz) but most writers can pinpoint a single book as the one that inspired them to write. I’ve heard all kinds of inspiration stories from my friends and peers. Children’s book writers wanting to capture the joy of hearing Dr. Suess read to them as a youngling. Horror writers hiding under the covers terrifying themselves with their first scary book. Or the writer so unimpressed with a horribly written book they are inspired to write something better.

We all have a story about the first book that made us want to write. More often than not, those same books have an influence on what we write. And it seems that for authors who write in certain genres, they can often share the same book or writer as their initial influence.

I credit a few books and writers on changing the course of my journey to becoming a full-time writer. But the one that made me say, “I want to be a writer”, is No Change, Please by Gordon Korman. Korman will probably be familiar to Canadians more than Americans or UK readers. Korman began his writing career at a very young age, barely into his teens he began with his Bruno & Boots books. The first in the series was This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall! begun during a semester in the 7th grade. His English teacher encouraged him to finish the book, which was published by Scholastic along with many of his 55 books that followed.

My grade 5 teacher was reading No Change, Please to the class and explained to us how Korman started his journey to the book we were hearing. That was the moment. Right there. Being told that a kid roughly the same age as me had written a book and had it published, inspired me to try and do the same. Well, I didn’t. I wasn’t published until I was in grade 8 and it was a short story in the photocopied school newspaper. I followed that up with a few poems in different issues of that paper and a couple more short stories and poems in highschool Writers’ Guild anthologies.

But I’d been bitten by the bug.

For this part of A Writer’s Journey, I decided to ask some of my peers to share their stories about the book that inspired them to write. They were all asked the same question and I was amazed by their responses. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Maybe you’ll find a book in their answers that will inspire you to write your own book. Or possibly you’ll take the time and read something by the authors themselves and find that spark you’re looking for.

***

Zoe E. Whitten

Website http://www.zoewhitten.com/

The first book to make me want to be a writer was Stephen King’s It. His characters were so real, and I wanted to create people just as flawed and believable.

***

David Dunwoody

Website http://daviddunwoody.com/

I think I’ve wanted to write since I was 10 or so. Around that time I wrote a story called “The Lost Souls” (recently updated as the novella “Lost Souls” for THE UNDEAD: HEADSHOT QUARTET). At that time I was reading Louis Sachar and Roald Dahl, but I don’t believe they were as much of a direct inspiration as what I wasn’t allowed to read – the King books in my parents’ bookshelf, books my older sister had told me about and at which I sneaked peeks whenever I was home alone. It was more than likely IT that did it for me, as that’s the only one I can recall with clarity. I didn’t read the entire novel until I was in my twenties, and it is one of my favorite books today, if not my #1. As a kid, I think the mystique and taboo of the book was as affecting as what I actually glimpsed in its pages (and what I did glimpse was wonderful and scary and definitely left an impression). Between its title – emblazoned in giant blood-red letters on the hardcover – and the fact I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near it, the book took on a mythic quality which only drew me more to it and to that genre. I really do have my parents to thank for getting me into writing horror. I don’t think they’d take that too hard.

***

Mark Leslie (Lefebvre)

Website http://markleslie.blogspot.com/

Wow. That’s a tough one. When I first heard the question I thought, oh, cool question – now what book was it for me? And then I realized that I couldn’t be 100% sure. Why? Because I’m pretty sure I wanted to become a writer long before I actually started typing out stories on my typewriter which was in my early teens. Of course, it was many years after when I started sending my stories out to publishers (which is often what I think about when I think about becoming a writer). But to be true to wanting to become a writer, it goes back even earlier than my teen years, it goes back to even before I wrote long prose tales. When I was a boy, I loved to draw cartoons; to tell stories via a combination of words and images. Before that, I remember creating epic adventures with either my Lego figures or my Fisher Price figures, compiling long complex plot adventures that would last weeks in short episodic segments.
And throughout all that time, there were a lot of books I read, many of which likely provided me inspiration to want to tell my own tales, produce my own stories.

So, nailing down a specific single book that inspired me to become a writer is a challenge indeed. I mean, if I go back far enough, it was likely a comic book (likely a poignany story told by Stan Lee about a young outcast teenager with the proportional strength, speed and agility of a spider) that inspired me to want to write my own tales. Later on in my childhood, it might have been one of Lester del Rey’s novels such as Marooned on Mars or Tunnel Through Time. In my early teens, there were books such as George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides that I remember enjoying so much and wanting to write my own post-apocalyptic tale.

And when I first pulled out my Mom’s Underwood typewriter and started seriously hammering out tales, Piers Anthony was a writer whose science fiction and fantasy novels I was avidly consuming. The use of my pseudonym of “Mark Leslie” was derived from reading about how this particular author’s full name was Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob and he simply sliced off the extra names to get a “writer’s handle” that was easier to say and spell.

But in a nutshell, it might seem like a cop-out to the question, but it seems as if books have always inspired me to be a writer – and the books I read today continue to inspire me to write. When I was young and I read a tale that I marvelled at, that tickled my imagination, I would set forth and want to write my own story that would do the same thing for other readers. And when I write today, it’s not without that part of my mind that conjures up the feeling I get when I read a great story or book.

***

Amy Grech

Website http://www.crimsonscreams.com

When I was twelve, an aunt gave me a copy of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Being at a very impressionable age, I devoured the entire novel in one sitting! King’s haunting portrait of an All-American family facing evil sparked my imagination—that’s when I knew I wanted to become a writer!

***

I’d like to thank all of the writers for taking the time to answer.

I’ll be coming back to this question again. Hopefully you’ll join me for the second half of this part of A Writer’s Journey.

Until next time, keep writing!

One of the BEST days

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by brandonlayng

What do you say when a writer you have the utmost respect for, that the genre has the utmost respect for, tells you he thinks the first half of your unpublished book is good? Yeah, sure you say “thank you”. Or you can smile like an idiot and jump around like I did. Because I haven’t yet revealed who’s reading the book and since I didn’t ask his permission I can’t give out names or go into too many details (Updated below post). I’m just too damned happy to keep my mouth shut about my excitement. I have spill some of it.

Before I talk about what was said, I want to talk about the author in question. He’s written some of the most innovative horror I’ve ever read. He continually amazes me with each book I read. His fiction has made me laugh, turned my stomach and want to jump in the pages to kick some ass. He’s one of my top favorite horror authors. So any praise from him, means a great deal to me. It’s that validation we’re all looking for. You want to hear from someone who’s been there and still doing it, that you have what it takes too.

He’s not done reading the manuscript yet, and I’ve got fingers crossed his opinion doesn’t turn sour on it before the end, but… seriously, he’s already made my year. The only thing that could top it would be being able to send him a copy of the published book with one of my wishlist of publishers’ names on the spine.

To top off all the great things he said about the book, he made me feel like a writer. There’s always talk about the lonely writer sitting in a dark basement plugging out words nobody is going to read. Well, a lot of days in front of the laptop, I feel like that. Today, I didn’t feel like that. And I probably never will again. Thanks to him. So if you’re one day reading a copy of “A Walk Amongst the Dead”, be sure to drop him a line and tell him thank you again (for me, and you, if you like the book) right after you read his introduction to the book. He’s offered to write one and I want to take him up on that offer, hopefully future publishers will see it my way and put it in.

I rank this one of the best days of my life. So far.

I’m not done writing you know.

*After asking if it was okay to post his name, he said it was okay. I’m very honored to say the author of roughly 60 published books, Grand Master Stoker Award-winning author, who is reading “A Walk Amongst the Dead”, is none other than… Ray Garton! If you don’t know who he is and you’re a fan of Horror, you should be ashamed of yourself. March out or log onto Amazon and buy one of his books today. He writes some of the craziest, scariest, most twisted stuff out there. His book “Lot Lizards” recently went into reprints through e-Reads.com buy a copy HERE It’s a good place to start. Then move onto Live Girls, Bestial, Ravenous, Nightlife, The Loveliest Dead, Dark Channel and many more you’re sure to enjoy them all.

A Chance to Help

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by brandonlayng

Recently through the ongoing #SupportTheLittleGuy campaign I was asked if the campaign could apply to assisting filmmakers. This falls into a gray area for the campaign which is aimed at helping small press publishers and writers gain more exposure. But I took a moment to check it out.

I’m glad I did. Edward Hightower (I’m reposting his comment left in my “About” section below) of Landed Gentry Productions is soliciting the public for funds to back a small film project called, “A Waltz”. There is a link to the video in his comment below. I watched the video, you should too. I’ve seen a few of these videos on kickstart.com and the ones I’ve seen are not as professionally made as this one. It was inspiring and showed the promise this film has in the hands of these independent filmmakers. Unfortunately, there is less than 7 days left to donate money to this project, but I encourage everyone reading this blog to take some time to invest in someone’s future. This is a great opportunity to do something worthwhile, to be able to look back and say “I helped to make this film happen”. They are still close to 2/3 away from their $10,000 goal. Even if you can only donate $1 it helps and you can considerate a Christmas gift to future generations who will benefit from this film being available for their viewing pleasure. Watch the video and see if you aren’t moved to find out more about this story.

Now a few words from Mr. Hightower:

  Hello Brandon, Edward Hightower here, actor in and producer (one of three) of A Waltz, which fearofwriting recently shared with you. Here’s a link, to refresh your memory or introduce the project to others: http://kck.st/9DKqbZ

We have 7 days to go and really need to get the word out there. This project is created, performed, produced, filmed, edited and whatall-ever-else by entirely local Northern California artists and technicians. Not only does its success fund locally-produced independent film, it also supports local artists and the local economy. Filmmakers are the chasers of unimagined dreams. Help us build a net to catch them.

 Thank you, sincerely,

Edward Hightower Actor/Producer The Landed Gentry

As writers, we are often inspired by film. This is a way to say “Thank you” for all of those movies that sparked an idea for a story and to ensure that you have more inspiration in your future.

Donate today and #SupportTheLittleGuy

Take care,

Brandon Layng

WE DID IT! Don’t forget the LittleGuy!

Posted in News, What Pissed Me Off Today with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by brandonlayng

Our efforts bore fruit. The Pedophile’s Guide to Love & Pleasure has been pulled from Amazon.com. I’d like to thank Amazon.com for doing what’s right, for listening to their customers as they stood united against this book. I’d still prefer to know that all profits from the book have gone to make reparations to victim support groups. But I’ll leave that up to Amazon.com and the author to make that wise decision.

Now it’s our turn.

We need to remember that a continued boycott of Amazon.com means we’re hurting the people who deserve our support. #SupportTheLittleGuy and return to your regular shopping. Many small press/indie publishers and authors depend on Amazon.com as a way of continuing to provide us with hours of entertainment with their written words. If anything we need to show them now more than ever that we support them. In your anger don’t forget the LittleGuy.

Please buy a book from a small press publisher or author today.

I’ll be removing my previous post later today, because I don’t want people to misled into believing this issue continues in regards to this individual book.

Note: I would like to add, that if you purchased this book, out of curiosity or any other reason, I strongly suggest you consider making a donation to victims of sexual abuse support groups. You should also feel shame. You’ve lined this man’s pockets and shown others that a book like this can make money because of people being morbid. You’ve helped to encourage his cause.