Saturday, March 7, 2020

Year 5 of an Indie Writer: Week 10 AKA Organic Growth and Contingency Plans

Scott D. Parker

I started the week thinking I'd write about one thing. I ended the week with a cautionary tale

Organic Growth

My son is a fan of a particular franchise. He makes videos about it, sharing them, and watching videos taken by other fans.

But he also takes a break from active fandom. For the latter part of each year through February, he doesn't devote much time to watch videos of other fans or much of anything. He sets a date for his new season to start, and he hit that mark this week.

On 1 March when he started up again, he marveled at how many more views his videos had received during his time away. He was really happy that viewership rose without him uploading new content. His subscriber list also grew.

"That's organic growth," I told him. "It's the kind of thing all creatives long for."

I asked him more questions about his videos. Turns out one seems to be a catalyst. It's an adjacent video, one not directly related to the franchise, but one that melds two franchises together. (I know I'm being vague, but he didn't want me to name drop him.)

His one, out-of-the-ordinary video actually got him more interested viewers. It also brought it viewers of that other franchise who watched, liked what they saw, and watch more of my son's videos.

In other words, his back list brought him more subscribers, more fans. Now, this year, as he makes newer videos, he'll be able to grow his fan base.

But I was struck by that one franchise-merging video. For him, that was the one of the key drivers to earn more viewers. I got to thinking how a writer might do something like that.

I'm still thinking, but the possibilities are exciting and nearly endless.

Oh, and I can't help but wonder if he's onto something in taking a break from a beloved franchise. His excitement built up until his new season started, making it all the more sweeter.

Contingency Plans

I'm thinking the vast majority of us writers--both traditionally published and independents--do not make our money solely from our writing. For those of us in this group, we have day jobs that serve as the primary means of our income, leaving the book business as a side hustle.

That's where I am. I love the book business, but for me, it's the second thing I do. By day, I have a job.

And, after this week, I still do.

Every company goes through a reorganization from time to time, and my company's doing it now. Well, just my team. I am incredibly blessed and fortunate to have maintained my position. I've been on the other side before and it ain't pretty. Most recently, in October 2017, was without a job. I thought I'd get tons of writing done with all the free time because, really, how much time could looking for a job take?

All of it. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Not only that, but it drains the mental energy, too.

Some of that dread seeped into my mind this week before I was told I would stay. It naturally got me to thinking about the side hustle. At the present time, it's not a lot of money. I get nearly all my joy in the writing of the tales. The icing on the cake is where others read them. But I really do enjoy readers who read and share my books.

I have lots of ideas about improving my discoverability, but up to now, I've not acted on them. After this week, and after the example of my son's franchise, maybe it's time to start.

Friday, March 6, 2020


This week Beau Johnson takes a look at Paul D. Brazill's KILL ME QUICK.
Seatown may not have a lot going for it – apart from the Roy Orbison lookalikes and Super Seventies Special every Thursday night, of course – but it is at least the place Mark Hammonds calls home. And after a decade away, it’s the place he returns to when he has nowhere else to go.
From dead bikers to dodgy drug deals, from one downbeat bar to another, from strippers to gangsters and back again: the luckless former musician bounces from one misdeed to the next along with a litany of old acquaintances, almost as though he never left. And if only he can shake off everybody who wants to kill, maim or otherwise hurt him, maybe he could even think about staying.
After all, there’s no place like home, eh?


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Dark Brink of Love

This week I'd like to talk about a project I'm very happy to be part of -- the new volume of films and articles and stories at filmmaker Nicholas Winding Refn's site, byNWR.  It's a site where rare, oddball and little known films have been given loving restoration.  For each film, there is a guest editor, who gathers the material for the essays, reflections, photo collages, stories, music, you name it, connected, in some way or other, to the restored films.  William Boyle is the guest editor for what is now Volume 8 on the site, and this volume is dedicated to noir.  Its title is The Dark Brink of Love

The volume consists of three chapters, with the first of the three chapters now live.  As Bill says, usually you need to create an account to see content on the site (it's free and simple), but they've made this volume available to everyone, no log-in required.

These are the contents:

First off, there's the film: Stark Fear from 1962. Made by two University of Oklahoma professors, Ned Hockman and Dwight V. Swain, it's a psychological horror noir set and filmed in and around Oklahoma City and Norman. It stars Beverly Garland and Skip Homeier.  Long in the public domain, the film has been wonderfully restored by Peter Conheim. It's an odd and disquieting movie, no question. 

In "Derrick Noir: Okies Go Hollywood," Philippe Garnier introduces Stark Fear, showing how the pieces came together on this twisted, peculiar movie. Read his intro to the film here:

In "The Planet Murderer," Chris Offutt considers how his father Andrew Offutt, a prolific writer of porn novels, crossed paths with Stark Fear screenwriter Dwight V. Swain, in the process meditating on literary heritage and the blood that runs from fathers to sons. Chris has allowed the use of some photos of his father, and there are also many book covers from John Cleve (Andrew Offutt's alias). Read it here: 

"'Why'd You Go, Daddy? Was I Bad?'" is a story from the author of Buckskin Cocaine, Erika T. Wurth. Wurth imagines what it might have been like for Cortez Ewing, the Native American actor who plays “The Chief” in Stark Fear. Accompanying the piece are James Mooney's Ghost Dance Recordings and a selection of noir-infused public domain photos. 

J. David Osborne, author of Black Gum, A Minor Storm, and Blood and Water, contributes "Oklahoma: Heartland, U.S.A.," inspired by the title of a tourism ad by Swain and Hockman. It's head trip noir story about his Oklahoma fifty years after Stark Fear, populated by a new variety of desperate people on the ropes: juggalos, small-time crooks, and searchers. Also accompanied by some weird, noir public domain photos. Read it here: 

Gabino Iglesias, author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs, in a story and photo series, delivers a motel noir infused with paranoia and destruction and inspired by the shadowy locations of Stark Fear. You can read and view "Stark Raving Mad" here: 

In addition to all this, there's a lot of stuff from William Boyle himself as well as Tyler Keith.

Bill wrote a speculative memoir from the point of view of former child star Skip Homeier, "The Bad Husband." That's here:
And Bill also wrote a long story, "Cruising the El Nora Motel," inspired by the El Nora Motel, a key location in Stark Fear. It includes original photos from Tyler Keith. This you can read and view here:

I'm not even listing everything that is in this ultra-rich volume, but you can find the complete volume index on The Dark Brink of Love's homepage.

Finally, you can find an overview of the entire volume here:

This should be enough reading and viewing to carry you along for quite a while, and by the time you're done, it'll just about be time for Chapter 2 of The Dark Brink of Love to go live, on April 1st. The film featured then will be Ted V. Mikels's One Shocking Moment (1965).  There'll be more great stuff in this chapter, with contributions from Ace Atkins, Laura Lee Bahr, Violet Le Voit, and Theresa Starkey.

Chapter 3 will appear May 1st, the film Joseph Lerner's Guilty Bystander (1950), and it will feature contributions from Sarah Weinman, Marya E. Gates, Jack Pendarvis, and myself.

But more on Chapters 2 and 3 later.  

For now, with Chapter 1...enjoy the beautiful darkness.

Monday, March 2, 2020

March is Women's History Month...Time to meet new history makers.

                           Nicky Murphy is a master of short-stories, flash-fiction, poetry and many other mediums. She has written critically acclaimed shorts for several of your favorite online magazines, including Daddy's Girl for Joe Clifford and Tom Pitts over at Flash Fiction Offensive. Coming from the glorious North of England, Nicky writes far less than she should but when she does it's a doozy. Her stories are often dark and brutal. Two of my favorite things. I am very happy to present two of her flash stories. Enjoy.                                



The ambulance pulled away from 32 Organza Gardens, in no particular hurry now. 

PC Barnaby watched it leave, then closed the front room curtains and sat down on a faded sofa, opposite the old woman huddled on an equally faded armchair. 

“Nasty shock, Mrs Miggins,” he soothed. “Finish your cuppa, then I’ll take you to the hospital.”

Mrs. Miggins sipped her tea, her hand trembling ever so slightly.

“Thank you, Davey,” she said. “You’ve always been a good lad."

She put the cup down on the coffee table and dabbed a handkerchief to her eyes.

“Well, who’d have thought it, your Albert being so allergic to cats?” PC Barnaby said, helping himself to a chocolate digestive.

“Anna flacky tic tac or something, so that nice young paramedic said.” Mrs. Miggins sniveled. “Who’d have thought it indeed?”

She dabbed again, and hoped she’d remembered to throw away the can of tuna with which she’d eventually tempted in next door’s ginger tom.




She’s not old, her nose is snub, not hooked. Her cat isn’t black, but a rich ginger. It rides on her shoulders when she cycles through the village and glares at everyone with its one green eye, dismissing them with a hiss.


Joel points and calls, the other children follow. He looks at her and the cat with centuries-long recognition, steeped in smoke and screams.


One morning Joel doesn’t turn up for school.


The woman and her cat are long gone from this earth when Joel is found, submerged and nibbled at the bottom of the village pond.


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

This is a public service announcement. You can now see the first season of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Amazon Prime. For people who don’t subscribe to Acorn TV, which carries British, Canadian, and Australian content, this is your chance to familiarize yourself with the indomitable and incorrigible Phryne Fisher.
I happened upon this fantastic Australian show when all three seasons were on Netflix a while back (they sadly no longer are). It’s set in 1920s Melbourne and features a protagonist who is decidedly ahead of her time. She’s a woman of independent means and independent mind, and she—naturally—tends to attract trouble. While packing a pistol and wearing gorgeous Roaring Twenties fashion. There are good supporting characters and a dashing police detective for romantic tension.
Like many of the best TV mysteries, this one also is based on a book series. Kerry Greenwood has written Miss Fisher novels since the late 1980s; there are now more than 20 in the series.
The series is so beloved that after the third and final season, a Kickstarter campaign raised funds for a movie. That will premiere this month.
Now let’s circle back to the Amazon Prime streaming, and why it’s ingenious. Acorn TV has exclusive rights to the series, so why would it (or whichever executive from whatever company makes those decisions) let a rival streaming service have one of its prime properties?
Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears comes out this month.
For the same reason authors would cut the price of their first book right before the newest one comes out. Hook those readers with the older content so they’ll be there for the new stuff.
And that’s just what Acorn TV is hoping for. The movie will be released in select theaters but primarily be available via streaming on—you guessed it—Acorn TV. And it’s hoping that you’ll think the movie is at least worth the $4.99 subscription charge for the first month. Maybe you’ll like other shows and stick around beyond that. Which is a win-win-win for Acorn.
I’m generally not one to recommend helping a company win, but in this case, I’m going to because as a mystery fan, I’ll also be winning. Miss Fisher is that good. Trust me.