Archive for SupportTheLittleGuy

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!

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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.

What’s a Happening

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

 

What’s a happening with Brandon Layng’s writing?

A few good things to report about myself. The launch of #SupportTheLittleGuy E-zine was a success, with positive feedback on the stories and the reviews. The campaign itself is taking off and writers/publishers have gotten back to me with plenty of good news. I’m happy to see it’s helping out so many people. But it is pretty strange being back in the publishing end of things. Read more about the campaign to bring more exposure to the small press publishers and writers, at: http://www.supportthelittleguy.wordpress.com or read the first issue of the e-zine at: http://www.stlgzine.wordpress.com

If you’ve been keeping up with my infrequent postings you know that “The Last Concert” my zombie Apocalypse concert tale has a home at www.talesofworldwarz.com and readers are enjoying it so far. Many comments have labelled the concert in the story, “Deadstock”. Which has brought a smile to my face.

One of my newest written short stories, “Wigging Out” has been accepted for “Made You Flinch: 2 for Flinching” edited by Bill Tucker from Library of Horror Press. It’s a must-read when it comes out, too many great writers in both volumes of the antho to name, but also my story includes some real-life creepy things that happened to me as a kid. Believe me, it freaked me out then and it will freak you out now. I’ll post more once I find out the release information on the anthology.

Speaking of creepy stories in anthologies. Gef Fox who runs a review site called, Wag the Fox ( http://waggingthefox.blogspot.com ) recently reviewed Belfire Press’ Courting Morpheus anthology, which if you recall contains my short story “Can of Worms”. I was very pleased when I saw a mention of my story in the review. Gef calls my little terror tale “stomach-turning horror”. It gives me great pleasure when a reader comes away from my work feeling that way 8)

You can read the rest of the review here: http://waggingthefox.blogspot.com/2010/11/rabid-reads-courting-morpheus-by-jodi.html

What I’m working on now.

“Don’t Know Your Own Strength” is a novella I’m tentatively labelling as Young Adult Horror. I’m never sure how far the horror elements of a story will go and it’s possible that it may become something too mature for highschool aged readers by the time I’m finished. As it stands the story (approx. 13K at the moment) will appeal to both young adults as well as adults. Here’s a brief synopsis:

Quincy Banner considers himself a geek, a comic book nerd, and it doesn’t help that almost everyone else agrees with him. He’s an outcast from the comic book crowd for his love of old horror comics instead of spandex wearing busty super-woman and men. The school jocks consider him easy prey any time they have a bad day and to add to the 1980’s film plot that is his life, he’s in love with the quarterback’s girl. Quincy’s had enough of being saddled with every affliction plaguing a teenager’s chances at popularity when he decides to answer an ad in one of his comic books. Dr. D. Satanica’s wonder pill promises to fix it all. But will they cause more problems than they’re worth when he wakes up in the woods covered in blood?

“Unravelled” another novella, I’ve been writing that pits an amalgamation of all the television mystery men from the ‘70s and ‘80s (from Columbo to Mike Hammer) against an ancient Egyptian mystery revived in our modern day. I’m having a helluva fun time writing the character, Det. Harry Brakes, a divorced, too smart for his own good, alcoholic, cop with a knack for solving the tough stuff. The only thing that’s been holding back this story has been a lack of communication from a local museum I was hoping could help me with research. I may have to resort to contacting a few other museums instead.

“Orphan Mary” I’ve been working at this one piece by piece since the story appeared on www.talesofworldwarz.com More often than not, Tales of the Zombie War gets sent my undead tales – with the exception of “Princess” which appeared in the Undead Special Edition of Morpheus Tales Magazine – and this one received a lot of response from readers wanting to know more about my Typhoid Mary-like character who was responsible for spreading the zombie plague. She’s just a little girl wishing for a family and she has a story to be told, so I’m trying to tell it.

“Life Sentence” which is another Tales of the Zombie War e-zine story has received the most responses by readers for one of my stories on the site. I asked readers when it originally was published to give it a read and let me know if they wanted more. And they did. The account of an inmate trapped in a super jail written between the lines in an Ernest Hemingway novel caught people’s interest and they asked to be told what happened after his cellmate re-animated into one of the “Rhinos” (a thick-skinned zombie controlled by a mutated strain of the cold-causing virus). “Life Sentence” is not a novella like the others I’ve mention but is a shorter novel at this point. I’ve continued to work hard on it as the story builds but it has been slow going. I’m hoping to have the first draft finished by early 2011.

“Angel’s Crossing” my debut novel, which has been sponsored as a newsletter exclusive e-serial from Graveside Tales Publishing is now in its 7th instalment. We’re into Part Two now. Readers have met “The Writer” in his lonely library office, writing the world into being. They’ve been introduced to the bloody lust of the Bedroom Slasher, a serial killer stalking the bedrooms of Forest Hills’ female population. Raphael and Eddie Raleigh had a vivid, savage meeting at the Gas King gas station out on the highway before the angel left the gas station attendant a shocking surprise at home while he went off to watch a concert starring the paraplegic trumpet player, Gabriel Cruise. The sky opened up all of its fury and Michael Howe burned in its fiery column, while Uriel tended to an old widow’s horses with his dog, Judas. In the most recent instalment the reader discovers the true nature of the Bedroom Slasher and what his presence may mean for the little logging town of Forest Hills. Don’t miss out on any more instalments, sign up for The GRAVESIDER newsletter today at http://www.gravesidetales.com If you’re already reading the book and you’re enjoying it, why not tell a friend to subscribe so they can get their free read too? I’d greatly appreciate it. Coming soon to my website will be an audio commentary on the book. I’ll be talking about the process of writing along with what inspired certain scenes. Keep an eye out for it.

“Movie Night” & “5 Perspectives on an Artificial Baby Toy” PDFs are still available to my followers on Twitter. If you’re not already following me on Twitter, why not start today? DM me your e-mail address and I’ll send you the first PDF as a free gift to say, thank you for following me. If you tell a friend about me and they DM me your Twitter screen name, I’ll send you a copy of the second PDF. “Movie Night” originally appeared in Darkened Horizons: Halloween Special Edition and is an homage to 80s slasher flicks like A Nightmare on Elm St.. “5 Perspectives on an Artificial Baby Toy” is a never-before, never-will be published novelette reserved as a special thank you gift for promotions. The only way you can ever read it is by taking advantage of times like this. The story takes place in a future where the world’s trees have been wiped out by biological warfare and the surviving population lives in super-cities with oxygen machines. The way of the world hasn’t been altered by the struggle to survive; elitism and commercialism have reached new depths in depravity. Follow me on Twitter today for your chance to receive these terrific reads, http://www.twitter.com/BrandonLayng

CHAT — I’ll be hosting another chat again soon. An announcement will be made on here, my site and over at Twitter. Watch for it and come join me. We’ll talk about Angel’s Crossing, #SupportTheLittleGuy and Horror movies/books in general. It’ll be a good time had by all.

IMPORTANT LINKS

Brandon on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/BrandonLayng

“The Last Concert” http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/2010/10/01/the-last-concert-by-brandon-layng/ 

“Orphan Mary” http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/2008/11/08/orphan-mary-by-brandon-layng/ 

“Life Sentence” http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/2008/05/02/life-sentence-by-brandon-layng/ 

Angel’s Crossing/The GRAVESIDER http://gravesidetales.com/gravesider/?p=subscribe&id=1 

#SupportTheLittleGuy HQ http://www.supportthelittleguy.wordpress.com

#SupportTheLittleGuy E-zine http://www.stlgzine.wordpress.com