Saturday, December 14, 2013

Michael: An Ebook Worth Your Dollar

My newest ebook will set you back a dollar. It's about Michael, an imaginary friend. Inspired by my limited knowledge of reality perception and nude vandalism. Tomorrow is my birthday, so celebrate my countdown to death by giving me your dollar! I will give you an ebook in return :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How To Become a Sellout In Four Steps

I have some announcements regarding my stories. Everyone stop being logs and listen, because if you read my stories, this applies to you. I'm going to phasing out of free posts online and into paid downloads, then eventually print copies as well. The plan is as follows:

The Last Bus Home is tentatively still on, and will be the final story posted free online, after Midnight at the Bowling Alley. This will occur around the end of November 2013. This list is no chronological in any way, because this places this near the end. Plans may change completely for this one.

Around November 15th, I will begin phase one of the actual transition, which consists of releasing a new short story, called Drive, as a free download on Smashwords. It's free, so download it to get an idea of my new style. If you like it, then you'll want to look into the next installment:

On or around November 20th, I will release another new short story, Ghosts, in paid format. All of my paid short stories will likely range from $0.99 to $1.25 depending on a variety of things I determine in my head and refuse to tell anyone else. I am a crazy hermit. Don't question me. It will likely be based on page length and whatnot. Will there be discounts? Heck yes there will. Smashwords lets me do discounts out the ass! This one will be $0.99.

Around November whateverish (we'll say the 27th just to be difficult), I will release another new short story, Michael, as a paid download for about... $1.15. Don't question me.

These downloads will all contain special features, including a small bit of commentary from me on the writing process for each piece.

Following this at some vague but near future date, I hope to have Anthology Volume One ready, containing revised versions of all of my free online stories (which will cease to be online once this goes up) for a bit more than a single story, obviously. This will also have print versions available, because it is a whole book. Perhaps a poetry collection as well, though which one has yet to be deterimined.

I am really hoping my readership follows me to the land of sellout. They have awesome cookies there.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The End Is Near, Folks

Well, it seems that the end of my live stories (for now) has come at the right time. I posted Midnight at the Bowling Alley a week or two back, and since then, I’ve struggled to get views for it. I was hoping to retire my live writing with more of a bang, but it is what it is. I’ll continue to market it as usual, but I suppose the target number of views before I take all the stories offline will have to be lowered, lest I wait forever.

Granted, this new story contains some disturbing elements, but the ones mentioned in the trigger warning (which I am obligated by human decency to include in the description, for those of us who find such descriptions to be triggering, hence the phrase) are brief. What’s more disturbing than those elements, though, are the actual elements of the story. This is my first story to deal directly with the idea of an afterlife, and some of the actual imagery in the story is completely surreal.

Oscar, having been dragged along to his partner’s mother’s bizarre late-night birthday party at a bowling alley, finds that he may never be able to leave. That’s the no-spoiler version of the summary. Anything beyond that would ruin it for you. You should read it.

In the meantime, let’s have a look back at my short gig as a live fiction author (live poetry is another thing altogether; whole other blog) and see what each piece represents. The titles will be presented with the view numbers, as of right this second from my end.

This will not be funny, so you can pull the funny stick right out of your ass X____x

A Tree In The Park: 48 views.

This story was the first short story that I wrote for the series. It’s the story of Josh, the narrator, spending the day in the park with his mother, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. The entire storyline revolves around their shared memories of a particular tree at this park and how it relates to Josh’s childhood, but the underlying themes are loneliness, disease, and the uncertainty of life itself. I wrote this story for English 111 originally, and my professor ran copies of it and distributed it to the class after this particular assignment was graded to “show them how it ought to have been done.” Quite embarrassing, but it was also a nice rush. The assignment was to select a picture from a set of pictures she gave us and write a story about it. I picked a lonely, dead tree next to a river.

Thus began my very long obsession with marketing and being an annoyance. I know you all love my frequent links to my stories, so shut up.

This story was the second story that I wrote for the series. It’s the story of Carol, who avoids bill collectors by never answering any of her phones. The story revolves around her musing that any one of the constant calls that keep coming in might be her mother. At the end, a message left on her answering machine suggests that something malicious might be at work. This story is not inherently a bad story, but it is, to this day, my biggest let-down. I was overconfident from the reaction that A Tree In The Park got from both readers and college faculty alike, and I wrote this as another assignment in English 111, completely confident that I had rewritten “The Lottery” for my generation this time. I shat odorless feces.

While it was still referred to by my professor as well done, she didn’t have the same kind of enthusiasm for it that she had had for the previous piece. Readers confirmed for me that this story was somehow inferior, and I attempted no less than 65 times to rewrite it into something better. Ultimately, the issue lies with the opening paragraph. It will need to be fixed before this goes into print.

Spin The Bottle: 111 views.

This was my third story for the series, posted quickly after It Might Be My Mother. The story concerns Drew, who has just graduated from high school. He learns a very difficult lesson about friendship, betrayal, and reality. This story was the first to wear a trigger warning, as it contained a rape scene and blatantly addressed the issues of homophobia and trust between gay and straight male friends.This story was, for lack of a less cheesy way of putting it, wildly successful. I received messages from people who related to the main character, and my readership numbers reached levels I was unaccustomed to. In fact, it was so successful that it caused me to go on hiatus from live writing for a few months because of the pressure to top it. Once in awhile, I’ll still see a view of it pop up here and there.

Everyone likes a good rape scene, as it turns out. Just pull some painful event out of your past, decorate it with some surreal elements, and put a trigger warning on it. People like to watch other people in pain, because they’re sick fucks.

The Dead Astronauts: 126 views.

This was my first story in months following Spin The Bottle. I almost didn’t post it, because I was afraid that the ending was overwrought and too dramatic. It was the first story in my catalogue to question the existence of a god. I wanted to leave the answer ambiguous, because fiction is hardly the place for personal beliefs to overwhelm character development. I am not Ayn Rand, after all. The story concerns Henry, who was born on a space station. He’s lived there all of his life, as has his partner, George. Henry wants to know what’s waiting in the starry void outside the flat they share and their minimum wage service jobs in the bowels of the space station, but Henry has no such curiosity.

This story’s success was such a pleasant surprise after being scared to post it. It continues to be a favorite among my readers, returning at least a few views every week, even now. After this story, though, there was even more pressure to perform. I nearly shit my pantaloons when I saw the views jump to 40 in the first 24 hours.

This story was doomed from the start. It was posted only 13 days after The Dead Astronauts, and was not nearly as successful. This was my second story to wear a trigger warning due to the portrayal of emotional abuse. It was the first story in which the narrator not only spoke in first person present tense, which is common in my work, but spoke as though having a conversation with the abusive partner, who is omnipresent. The story concerns Todd, who has just gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship. His ex is still using him for sex, and he avoids thinking of the damage the situation is doing to him by planning a fictional life revolving around an abandoned house with his straight friend Mark. By all accounts, this story should have been written better, and will likely undergo a rewrite or two before being put into print, but it was not as disappointing for me as It Might Be My Mother. The biggest issue, I thought at the time, was the sub-par cover art, which was then revised twice, to no avail. The views simply did not come as easily as they did for The Dead Astronauts and Spin The Bottle.

I remember actually saying to myself after posting this story: “Damn it, that’s the end of the whole thing. It’s all downhill now.” I subsisted on Little Caesars and broken dreams for the next month.

Our Lives In Ruin: 82 views.

About a month after We All Come Home Eventually, I posted Our Lives In Ruin. This was my first attempt at horror, and it was surprisingly successful in that aspect. The story is about Joey, who lives with his alcoholic mother (who has a strange habit of packing up the entire living room into boxes after a night of drinking) in a truck stop town. He meets a dark, charming stranger one night, and suddenly life is bearable, maybe even pleasant. But is this new friend just another way for Joey to hurt himself?

I posted this story all over the place, like feces. I smashed it into communities until I was banned and read it aloud to unwilling victims. I’m sure everyone loved me by the end of it.

This story got most of its views, I’m sure, from my constant advertising of it as a vampire story. And that’s not exactly a lie. The character of Franklin (the stranger) is indeed a creature of the night, but he’s a little more complex than the average fictional vampire. He represents the sum of all human hope and fear in a single, understated (and regrettably unexplored) character. I had planned for this story to be longer, but at 16 pages, it still stands as my longest short story to date. I plan to expand it into what it was meant to be before it goes into print, as it’s been suggested that the ending is sudden and unexpected, and not in a pleasant way. Still, the views continue to come in for this one as well.

One thing I can say with some confidence is that Franklin is not Edward Cullen. Stephanie Meyer fans beware. Actual vampires are contained within this story, and they are not sad emo heaps of perfection.

This was my second attempt at horror, and was written originally for English 112 as a metafiction piece, which is a reworking of another story. I chose to work from Little Red Riding Hood, inspired by Angela Carter’s Company Of Wolves. The story is about David Hood, who goes to visit his grandma in a retirement community in Indiana. He meets Peter Wolfe, a staff member, at a diner down the road from the complex. When he arrives at the condo, he realizes that his grandma has been eaten by a wild animal, and when Peter shows up to help, David notices that his fingernails are stained red. The final scenes are some of the most surreal that I personally have ever committed to writing, and I attribute the success of this story to those scenes, among other things.

I marketed this story relentlessly, too. Whatever channels had not yet slammed on my forehead were utilized, effectively piping the words of this story into the ears of everyone who would listen, much like polka music to the residents of downtown Berne, Indiana. MAKE IT STOP @_@

This is my third attempt at horror. I’ve already described the storyline (go back to the top, poopmouth), and it has all the makings of a grand story. Granted, I just posted this a couple weeks ago, but I’m already slotting it with It Might Be My Mother and We All Come Home Eventually. I can’t quite determine just yet what needs to be fixed with it, but I have really struggled to get views for this story. I think part of it was that it has taken me months to actually post it, and when I did it, I’m sure it was old news. The Dirty Red Fingernails had 34 views the first day. Maybe I’m just bitching. But that leads me to my next item...

A New Story: 0 views because it’s not confirmed or posted yet.

Yes, I may write one last live story if Midnight At The Bowling Alley continues to disappoint me. I am determined to retire from live writing on a positive note. I have several ideas I’m working on, but the most prominent is based on the ever-popular ghost hitchhiker tale that people have passed down for centuries. I may throw in an element of love surviving after death, maybe another story dealing with the idea of the afterlife. I haven’t quite put it all together yet. I’m sure the cover art and title will be done long before the story, as is my tradition.

And now, the biggest item in my catalogue...

Antioch: 1752 views.

Holy shit, people. This novel was what started it all. I have had so many people reach out to me after reading this poorly written, grammatically incorrect pile of nonsense to tell me that it made them cry, or made them realize they weren’t alone. I had no idea anyone was actually reading it at first, and even throughout posting it chapter by chapter, I still didn’t fully get just how many people were reading it. I am very proud of this novel, though it definitely needs a few rewrites before it goes into print.

So there you have it. A blog that is singularly the most boring piece of shit I have ever written, about other pieces of shit I’ve written. I bet you’re glad you stayed to the end. Congratulations. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, only a sandpaper butt plug. I warned you.


Friday, July 19, 2013

An Explanation of Midnight in the Bowling Alley and Some Other Stuff

Well, it's finally happened. In a few days, I'll be posting the final live story of the first collection, titled Midnight at the Bowling Alley. It's taken a long time to write because of my struggle with depression and procrastination and blah blah blah excuses. Whatever. It's written, and it's being revised as we speak. As promised, this is the back story.

Midnight at the Bowling Alley represents a lot of things to me as a writer. Most obviously, it's my first story to deal with the idea of an afterlife. Much in the spirit of The Dead Astronauts and the approach I used with the question of the existence of a god, I wanted to leave the question open as to whether I was implying that the afterlife exists.

The storyline is simple enough. Oscar and Zeke are on their way to Zeke's mother's birthday party and Oscar has fallen asleep in the car. The opening scene is of Oscar waking from a nightmare he can't remember. They arrive at the bowling alley where the birthday party is. After the usual verbal abuse from Zeke's mom, Oscar decides to hang out alone the rest of the night, but he soon discovers that he may be stuck with Zeke's mom forever. The man at the snack bar says that there's no way out.

After putting The House on Bernard Street on hold, I realized that the verbal abuse that Warren's mother was able to deliver to Aaron in that novel was simply too priceless to shelf, so I've transferred a great deal of her into Zeke's mother.

I also realized that I often will write the same storyline over and over. I've decided to stray from the “man wants out of his own life, tries to get partner to go with him, ultimately goes alone” plot line that I find myself wrapping most of my short stories and novels in, and I've decided that this story should be based on the lack of possible escape rather than pending freedom.

The characters are pretty typical of my work, but as with my previous two stories, this is a horror piece. Horror is a genre where character-driven dramatic elements are scarce, and I think this tendency of mine to put my characters front and center and let the main battles play out inside them sets me apart from other modern indie authors. I'm not content to write a story for the sake of writing one. There's a lot of symbolism in everything I write, though admittedly, it has to be pointed out to me by those who read my work.

I suppose this story could be considered the final in a horror trilogy, though the stories themselves (Our Lives in Ruin, The Dirty Red Fingernails, Midnight at the Bowling Alley) have nothing in common as far as plot or characters go. The three stories before that could be seen as a relationship drama trilogy (Spin the Bottle, The Dead Astronauts, We All Come Home Eventually). The first two stories are mother-oriented and represent my first attempts at short fiction. Some elements of all these stories work, and some do not. I'll have to revise them all pretty heavily once I take them down so that I can put them into book form.

Once I've got books to sell, I plan to sell them a few different ways. Most obviously will be online via a website. However, I am insistent upon meeting the people buying my books, so I will likely try to put together a book tour. Who can say? I might do anything. This part will be discussed in a future blog about Antioch.

Now we come to something which may cause tables to be flipped like dominoes. I am likely finished with the “live” format altogether. I may finish The House on Bernard Street live, but after that, everything will be written in private and then sold as books. It's time I moved on to this phase of my career, though I will say that it has been fun watching the view counters rise on these stories as people read them. I've been giving my work away, however rough-draft it may be, and it has made me no money. I've seen that there are people in the world who are willing to read my work, and it's inspired me to believe that these same people might be willing to pay $1 to download an ebook or $12 to buy a printed book.

Don't let me down.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

We All Come Home Eventually: The Back Story

We All Come Home Eventually is a story that actually sprang directly from a line in chapter fourteen of Antioch, where Aaron Dunn talks about how we all come home to what we remember.

The character of Todd is someone that I think a lot of people can relate to on a very basic level, much like Aaron was. In a way, I think that he's sort of an evolution of Aaron, though his ex boyfriend Ryan is certainly no Warren. He's an emotionally abusive omnipresent source of ill feelings for Todd.

His best friend Mark is straight, and he's a constant comfort in the story. I suppose that makes it the opposite of Spin The Bottle, where the straight friend's intentions are not as well-meaning in the end. I do look at the two stories at almost mirrors of one another, both of them dark but for different reasons.

The story is written in first person present tense, which has become my standard way of writing since Antioch. The unique spin I put on this story is that Todd tells the story as though speaking it to Ryan, who is never otherwise in the story more than a few brief mentions of him in passing.

The story has been up for a while, and I've just now gotten around to writing the back story of it. I suppose depression and a busy schedule have a lot to do with it, but you'd think I'd learn to plan for those things.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy We All Come Home Eventually, a short story by myself, Roman Theodore Brandt.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How To Not Get Bombarded With Ihop Cutlery

Prepare your silly scene kid hipster emo vampire boneheaded selves. I am about to rip a general hole in everyones collective asses.

Forgive me for being old. Seriously. I apologize for being 28. I realize that's old age for gays, and believe me, this blog is being written from an old folk's home as a formality.

Being so old, I certainly am unqualified to make any judgments, I'm sure. That being said, watch me do it anyway.

Because I can.

This is my blog, unfortunately for you.

El. Oh. El Camino.

Item one: I'm sorry, but if you're out with me and we're eating or something, and I get a Facebook notification where you're saying “bored, text it,” rest assured that I will kill you. I have four hours to myself, now. Per week. Between work and school and writing, I am booked. If I am able to find the time to hang out with you, and you post something so offensive, so deal-breaking, so spectacularly idiotic and insensitive, rest assured that you will be sampling all of my food. Forcibly, down your face, plates and glasses and spoons bouncing off your person. I will put my sundae up your ungrateful god damned ass. I will shower you in my soda, and I will leave you with the bill in the hopes that I have just made your night more interesting.

I realize that being under 25 makes it mandatory to be bored at all times, but do try to suppress it. Do try.

Item two: Those awful celebration photos I see littering my news feed. The ones where you're singing or something. With your mouth half open and your head cocked to one side, not smiling.

It's pretty rare that anyone makes that face outside of the Internet, but all you shiny rainbow asshats make that face online. It's like a plague. It's like you see a camera phone and your face goes BOOMDUMBASSFUCKME.

I'm sure they make pills for that.

Item three: Let's not post our phone numbers on Facebook walls in comments. I think the reasoning behind this should be obvious to any sentient, sound-minded person. This one is less of a criticism and more of warning.

You wouldn't spray paint your number on the outside of someone's house or car with the words “call me” below it.


Because you, my friend, would look like a god damned asshat. And you would probably be arrested.

And besides that, someone would spend the next five days calling your number and breathing. Am I right?

I MISS U KALL ME *insert phone number*

Classy. Very, very classy.

Darwin award. Here you go.

Item four: You post pictures of yourself, yet you say you're ugly in every one of them. Well, if you're ugly, why spread it around?

Item five: your illiterate haikus instead of human dialogue. Allow me to introduce you to my friends, grammar and punctuation. Admittedly, I post some things with typos sometimes, but I at least respect my native language enough to use it properly, including word wrap.

Humans do not talk like this:

u r annoyng
but i luv u
u hav no lice
so thats good
im done

No. No no no. Absolutely not. Get rid of it. Kill it with fire. Teach it to write whole sentences or destroy it.

Maybe I'm just old for a gay. I can feel the spindles of age creeping into my bones.

Of course, the people I'm addressing here would never venture far enough into my profile to click on a link to a blog, so I'm ranting. That's all it is.

And it's all in good fun. I don't actually want to punch people with brass knuckles made of dinner plates over a Facebook status. But DAMN it feels good to get this all out.

I hope it was at least educational.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

About My Impending Hiatus (Yes, Another Hiatus)

As I've said, it's time for me to take a hiatus.

I've grown a bit tired of the stories I'm writing now. I feel locked into a style of writing that I never intended to own. I wrote the first chapter of Antioch by accident, but since then, I've been writing a long series of relationship dramas.

The truth is that, while I respect this type of writing, I want to write horror. I feel that at my current pace, I'll never be able to write horror. I need time to practice, and time to write.

I do feel that I've gained valuable experience as a writer of character driven dramatic short stories and novels, though.

I'll be releasing two more short stories, and the remainder of The House On Bernard Street, and then I will be in full hiatus. I am only in a partial one right now.

That's not to say I'm not writing or that I won't be writing. I simply won't be publishing it online for a while.

I'll be writing three horror novels, covers and descriptions to follow.

The Caretakers
A novel about a Joe Ramsey and his dying mother, who rent a house in the country. The landlord supplies three men who work around the house, and their presence causes Mrs. Ramsey to get well. But at what cost? Joe learns a sinister secret about the house and the men who inhabit it, and he's soon faced with a decision no one should ever have to make.

The Lucid Dark
A novel about a man who rents a house with four friends when he goes away to college. Before long, though, parts of the house began to disappear. When the bedrooms vanish, so do his friends, and he seems to be the only one who remembers they were ever there to begin with.

Kill John
A novel about John, a college student who's on his own for the first time. He rents a house near campus with a boy he meets in one of his classes. Soon, though, he begins to see dark shadows that look like the people he knows. Soon, he realizes that he can't distinguish between these ghosts and real people they represent, and before long, he's even afraid of himself.

So you see, it's not really a break from writing so much as a step toward goals I'd almost forgotten.

I certainly hope that all of you will stay with me as I change.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Little Backstory: The Dead Astronauts

Well, the time has come to drop The Dead Astronauts. Never have I been quite as nervous as I am with this release, because this story is technically science fiction.

As I have stated previously, I am no Carl Sagan. I've had to suppress the natural tendency to describe in detail all of the futuristic technology in favor of the focusing on what I know how to do, which is to say, tell a story about two guys who don't know where to go from where they are.

I've very much accepted that I am known as a “gay author,” and with that in mind, I feel that it's my duty to experiment with style, etc. I no longer have any duty to prove how ordinary gay literature is. I've decided that rather than try to prove it, I can do it just by writing what I want to write.

The Dead Astronauts is the story of Henry, a lonely cafeteria worker who wants to know what exists beyond the glass walls of the space station where he has lived all of his life. George, his boyfriend, is perfectly content to live the rest of their lives aboard the craft, and wishes that Henry would stop looking out the windows at the stars and wondering if there's a god.

This is an intensely personal piece for me, as it always is. This story's element of wondering if there's a god was particularly challenging, because as an atheist, I wanted him to come to a solid conclusion that there wasn't one, but it simply did not suit the situation, so I left the whole thing ambiguous, and I'm very proud of that. It's not my duty as an atheist to shove my lack of religion on my readers, and for this particular story, a question of the existence of god was best left unanswered and unbiased in its curiosity, not leaning toward or away from my own convictions.

I think that that's one of the hardest things I've had to overcome as an author: the urge to make my characters all atheist or gay. Granted, most of my main characters are gay, but that's what I know. Religion is not always something that has to be dealt with every time one sits down to write something, though, and for the most part, I prefer to avoid the subject unless it moves the story forward.

I hope that this story means something to someone. As always, thank you to everyone for your continued readership, and for your support.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Indie Author Threatens To Turn World Into Parking Lot

I've decided to put together a tentative release schedule for the next 30 days. I'm going to post the art for the releases in this blog alongside the anticipated drop date.

01/14/13: The Dead Astronauts. This short story takes place on a space station, and follows my most commonly used theme: a character in a very ordinary life (for the time and location) and the desire to find something better. It's one of the riskiest stories I've written, as far as setting and writing style go, because I'm no Carl Sagan. I've taken the focus off of the high tech elements that normally dominate the genre so I can focus on the relationship, which is something I do know how to do.
01/20/13: Chapter Three of The House On Bernard Street. The third installment in my second live novel. With Christmas at Warren's mother's house looming, Aaron faces stress and familial resentment, as well as the equally frightening threat of Christmas at Warren's Dad's house.

01/26/13: We All Come Home Eventually. This short story focuses on the dynamic between a man and his best friend in the aftermath of a breakup. I'll reveal more about this later on.

02/02/13: Our Lives In Ruin. This short story focuses on a man and his mother living in poverty in a small town. More details about this later as well.

Also, at some point, I plan to put up the new art for Spin The Bottle, designed to match the vintage toilet bowl spittoon Saturn rocket thing my new covers have going on. Also, A Tree In The Park and It Might Be My Mother are being taken down after the release of The Dead Astronauts for revision and expansion. 

Stay tuned. I'll link to all of these things as they occur, including any easter eggs I decide to crack open on your collective foreheads.