THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB discussion

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Authors and Their Books > GROUP AUTHOR FORUM - MENAGE- A- 20

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Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Life, death, demons, and doughnuts. The perils of love; the perils of hell. Ghosts, TV, and human sacrifice. What do they all share? A group of writers, published and unpublished, with no other goal than to make you gasp in shock. Thirty stories, twenty writers. Prepare to get hooked.

The moderators of Goodreads.com writing group, On Fiction Writing, lead by Carlos J. Cortes, author of Perfect Circle and The Prisoner, created this anthology to promote the extraordinary talents of its members.

We have published an e-book with thirty short stories from twenty writers, to give away free from every blog and website we can muster. Our goal is to enrich the lives of 100,000 readers with snippets of rare beauty they would otherwise miss. To download this free ebook, go to http://www.menage-a-20.com.

Get Hooked --San Diego Dispatch
An orgy of many-splendored prose --Pocatello Times

Life, death, demons, and donuts. The perils of love; the perils of hell. Ghosts, TV, and human sacrifice. What do they all share? A group of writers, published and unpublished, with no other goal but to make you gasp in shock. Thirty stories, twenty writers. Prepare to get hooked.

Download your FREE copy by clicking HERE! Look for pictures of the authors and other extras at http://www.menage-a-20.com/

Like to hold a book in your hands? Paperback and hardcover copies can be printed at Lulu.com ! [close:]


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Between us, the authors in M20, who are also members of this group, contributed twelve of the 30 stories.

And excellent stories they are (he said modestly.)

In fact all 30 stories are great.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
wonderful Paul! How did you all get together to collaborate on a book - in other words- what was the "choosing of writers" process?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I just downloaded the E-Book. I love short story collections! Looking forward to reading them. :)


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Well, Rick, I think the idea just arose among the more regular contributors to the On Fiction Writing group, although it may have been Carlos J Cortes (another member of this group) who actually proposed it. After that, every member of OFW, some 800 at the time, were invited to contribute a story, between 1000 and 5000 words.

Human nature being what it is, only some twenty responded to the request, so the stories were, in a sense, self-selecting.

It was a wonderful process to take part in. The editing, the proofreading, the re-editing, the artwork, and finally the publication, all done to the highest professional standards.

A great deal of work was done by Carlos, and by Gwen McIntyre, who did most of the donkey work that a publisher would normally assume. The other eighteen authors owe them a debt of gratitude.

Some of the stories needed considerable editing and revision. Some needed hardly any. All ended up improved in some way and deemed worthy of inclusion.

Although, come to think of it, there may have been stories that weren't selected. I wouldn't necessarily have come across them.


message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul Hope you enjoy them, Jeanette!


message 7: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Thanks for the thread Rick. This is great.

Jeanette; I can't wait to hear your feedback. Thanks for downloading.

The project was proposed by Carlos and Paul and I along with the other mods helped read submissions and eventually decided on the shorts that are included. We did the reading 'blindly', which means that only Carlos knew who submitted what. And I recall reading two stories that didn't make it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the writing talent out there.


message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul See how faulty memory can be? Well, my memory anyway.


message 9: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) I think maybe because the two that I remember didn't follow the guidelines. It wasn't that they were terrible, just not what the project was about. That's something authors have to pay attention to.


message 10: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Anyway, I wonder each time I read a review of Menage, which were the favorites and why? Do you wonder? Not because anyone is better, I'm just curious to know what draws people to a certain story or genre. We have so many different ones in this, it would be interesting to know. Don't you think?


message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Yes, it would be nice. Of course, it could also get depressing if no-one ever mentioned our stories in their list of favourites.


message 12: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Yes, never thought of that. Wait...no one has mentioned mine.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
I find the whole process facinating! are there any plans for another collaboration?


message 14: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) We haven't made any solid decisions, this one was a lot of work and was sort of a test run. We'd like to do another one. I would definitely do it again. I don't know about the rest though...


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
here is a link to Carlos' website- with some great info on this facinating book

http://www.carlosjcortes.com/the_book...


message 16: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) The picture or wallpaper of the painting was 'doctored' to include all of the authors' faces. I like how we all made sure to turn our heads the right way, but few thought to assume the proper expression. It's supposed to be a funeral scene.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
well it looks great!


message 18: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) I loved it. Carlos's idea, and it was a good one. Very funny.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Renee wrote: "I loved it. Carlos's idea, and it was a good one. Very funny."

I liked it to. You all look like you enjoyed the project -- maybe that's why you forgot to look mournful. :)


message 20: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Probably. It was a lot of fun and when he proposed the picture we were really excited. Although he chose the positions. Hmm. I wonder why I, the tallest woman in the group, got the role of little person?


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
lets hope we can get some of the other writers in Group- I love hearing your and Paul's perspectives on the project- My enormous respect for writers makes me very interested in the process of writing- and I wouldlove to hear the various experiences of the "Faces in the Photo" :>)


message 22: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) I hope they join in too. I'll add a little note about how I wrote each of mine. Probably only interesting to me. The Fine Print I had all written in my head while I was sick. Laying next to the toilet with a nasty flu bug. When you read it, you'll get the connection. It started there and then the rest filled itself in.

Lonely was something I wrote to step outside my comfort zone. Until that short story I wrote primarily horror fiction. Now I'm venturing into more mainstream, 'literary' kind of writing and I absolutely love it. I'm glad I did this project, or I may not have realized that I love writing that type of fiction.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Renee wrote: "I hope they join in too. I'll add a little note about how I wrote each of mine. Probably only interesting to me. The Fine Print I had all written in my head while I was sick. Laying next to the toi..."

had you an idea of the kind of story you would contribute? or did the plot for the story result from your emotional state at that time?
I find this facinating- love how you stepped outof your comfort zone- it seems that can be expanded to all people and the lives they lead- sometimes it takes stepping out of one's comfort zone to discover that what was thought to be comfortable was in fact merely confining


message 24: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) The Fine Print definitely reflects my emotional state at the time...and my physical one.

Lonely, reflects how I've felt at different times and it reflects people I know.

I actually had another story that was my first submission. Yet He's here, is in my writing. It was more my 'regular' style of writing. Funny, a tad on the horrific side. But the other two (in my opinion) were a better quality of writing.

And I totally agree that everyone should step out of their comfort zone now and then, not just in writing. You never know what you'll find if you don't.


message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul Yellowfang came from an idea of a demon who possesses people with bad teeth - and a visit to the dentist.

Vacant Possession - what if, when people lose their sense of self (in cases of, for example, senile dementia), something else steps in to fill the vacuum?

Plus I like writing gory horror :)


message 26: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) You write the best gory horror, Paul. Yellowfang had me cringing and I might have puked in my mouth, just a little. Puts the dentist in a whole new light. Ick.


message 27: by Paul (new)

Paul Well, thanks, Renee. You say the nicest things.

Seriously, I find that a good idea is all I need for a short story. Think about it for a few minutes, let it percolate and mature in the subconscious for a day or so, then write it.

Each story was written in one session. I gave them a quick proofread and edit and that was it, done.

OK, Gwen and Carlos spotted a few typos I'd missed, and Gwen made a couple of suggestions, but both my stories in the anthology are essentially the first draft.

If only it were that easy with full length stuff...


message 28: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) If only...


message 29: by Brian (last edited Mar 26, 2010 03:09PM) (new)

Brian | 274 comments Hi Paul: What a unique experience it must be to contribute in a collaboration of short stories. I like gory horror and would like to know which author influenced you the most? I can not think of a collaboration of author's short stories in one book off hand, can you think of another example? Most novelists find it much harder to write short stories since the character development, plot, descriptive passages etc, is limiting. The whole process has to be written with much less words. Can you give other reasons why the transition is easier for you? What a fantastic concept and congratulations to all who contributed!


message 30: by Brian (last edited Mar 26, 2010 03:58PM) (new)

Brian | 274 comments I have an open question to any of the goodreads authors involved in this extraordinary idea. I believe that any author should, to a degree, be responsible not to inject an overboard amount of their own ideology. For an extreme example, it is like writing that Auschwitz was a fabrication of government propaganda thus a lie. Does anyone feel that horror in general has moved more towards vigilante justice? A good example is "Law Abiding Citizen" whereas the main character was handed injustice by the judicial system and therefore everyone involved must pay. Although a movie, I find that the appeal of horror novels is waning and is now changing into vigilante justice. Just like the vampire genre has evolved too much into "paranormal romance" when in my opinion vampires are nasty creatures.


message 31: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Actually, I agree with you Brian. I think that as the author, you have to be very careful not to inject too much of yourself and your 'judgements' in certain types of fiction. You're right, vigilante justice is the 'flavor of the week' it seems.

Vampires, that's tricky. I think I like the vampires of old. But not too old (as in Dracula, although that is one of my favorites). Anne Rice had a pretty good balance in her books. The vampires were likable, but they were what they were. They drank blood and often weren't too particular on which blood they drank. I think vampires should be dark.

I'm a fan of authors who base their fiction a little closer to reality, although I still enjoy a happy ending. This is the balance you have to try to achieve. You can have your happy ending, but that doesn't mean all the bad guys 'get theirs' in the end. Does that make any sense. Getting tired.


message 32: by Brian (last edited Mar 26, 2010 05:39PM) (new)

Brian | 274 comments Yes, we are very much in agreement. I enjoy books more sometimes when the antagonist does not accomplish his/hers schemes or dies. I also like it the rare times that heroes die in defending their convictions. Ann Rice, in my estimation, achieved a balance very well in her books. Vampire lore for centuries were immortal creatures not particular of who's blood they drank. I personally do not like the trend that is expanding rapidly of romance intertwined with vampires. I agree with expanding boundaries very much, decimating genres entirely offends me as a reader. That is just my opinion, there would be many who disagree. That is fine for I enjoy a good debate rather than be upset by differences of opinion. I enjoyed your comments.


message 33: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Thanks. Although, I must admit, I do enjoy Sherilyn Kenyon's books. Which have the romance in there pretty thick. But hers are so steeped in history and mythology, I am hooked.

Funny you mention books where the heroes 'die' or perhaps don't have the happy ending we expect, rather a bittersweet kind of ending. I love writing endings like that, although I have heard several times that those endings don't sell. We'll see I guess.


message 34: by Brian (last edited Mar 26, 2010 06:01PM) (new)

Brian | 274 comments Well Renee I learn something new quite often. It never occured to me that bittersweet was not a literary culture that was utilized too often, rather than those types of endings do not sell very well. That does appear to me as strange.


message 35: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) I don't know if that is 'fact'. I should clarify what I meant by that. It's what I've been told by various...people. How's that? I have read many that were bittersweet, and loved them. That's why I disagree with said people.

I think this sort of ending is utilized frequently in literature. At least in what I've read. I've also read it frequently in horror.


message 36: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments Whoever wrote that "this sort of ending is utilized in literature frequently" coincides with the same observations from many of the books I have read. So naturally, I thought it was a redundant tendency. Has a publisher ever told anyone who wrote a short story in this collaboration that they did not like the typical ending? Yes, very prevalent in horror too.


message 37: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Hmm. I don't know. Good question. I haven't heard it from a publisher, which is why I decided I'd wait and see.


message 38: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments Admittedly, I can see the two sides of a coin. I am a vampire purest and what I find a disturbing trend could be deemed expanding boundaries by others.


message 39: by Paul (last edited Mar 27, 2010 02:09AM) (new)

Paul Hi Brian: offhand, I can't think of any other book which was the result of a collaboration between so many authors. Plenty of anthologies, but they're usually controlled by an editor who selects stories from the aspiring entrants, or who does a 'Best of' type volume. The last story in M20 was actually done by all of us writing a segment. You have plenty of examples of dual authorship - King and Straub, Niven and Pournelle etc, but twenty? Is that a record?

I think I find short stories so easy because there really isn't that much need for character development. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that there is character development, but it's more limited and cruder. The king in short form fiction is the story idea. Good idea = good story. Weak idea = weak story, no matter how beautifully you craft the words or develop the characters or have sparkling dialogue.

Or perhaps that's just me...

Horror authors: Machen, Lovecraft, King, M R James.

Ideology: I inject my characters' ideology. Sometimes it coincides with mine...

Vampires: creatures of purest evil and bad breath. They kill us to survive. So we should regard them in the same way a gazelle regards a lion. The difference being that gazelles tend not to band together to stomp the life out of a lion.


message 40: by Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB (last edited Mar 27, 2010 07:56AM) (new)

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Hi Brian: offhand, I can't think of any other book which was the result of a collaboration between so many authors. Plenty of anthologies, but they're usually controlled by an editor who selects st..."

I recall when I was working in the World trade Center- A book came out called NAKED CAME THE MANATEE- There was a great Big bookstore in the WTC Mall and there was a signing for the book with 3 authors there- Carl Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard and Dave Barry
I think a similar book came out written by female writers

Arthur Machen, Paul, I strongly feel is a very unjustly forgotten writer- I am so glad you mentioned his name


message 41: by Brian (last edited Mar 27, 2010 10:37AM) (new)

Brian | 274 comments Agreed Paul, in my mind that is exactly what vampires are and to interject love into soulless, vicious creatures is just not my cup of tea. "The Talisman" is one of those famous collaborations between Steven King and Peter Straub. I thought the book was excellent. H.P. Lovecraft is certainly an author I hold in high regard for his horror novels. Stephen King was fantastic but his last number of books (maybe fifteen year span) in my opinion has not been even close to his early work. I can only guess at what has happened, during that span to present he is just a mediocre writer at best. He sells millions by reputation. My evidence to support this claim is very apparent when he wrote under Richard Bachman(I think) for his short stories "Nightmares and Sreamscapes" only 20,000 copies were sold until a crafty researcher uncovered the truth then the book became a number one best seller. I will review that book soon. It will contain spoliers as there were more boring short stories than entertaining ones.


message 42: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Brian; Have you read Under the Dome? To me it reads like his early work. I'm loving it so far.


message 43: by Paul (new)

Paul Some of the Bachman a.k.a. King stuff was quite good. The Running Man, Thinner and the Regulators, which was a companion volume to Desperation. I did think his layer stuff got overly long and tame, though I haven't read Under the Dome yet. Books like Rose Madder and Dolores Claiborne were just tedious IMO.


message 44: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) I loved The Running Man and Thinner. I haven't read Desperation. The Dome is good, Paul. I promise.


message 45: by Paul (new)

Paul OK, I'll pick that up fairly soon.


message 46: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) I'm almost finished...400 pages to go.


message 47: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments Definitely, Paul those were very good books, my reference was just one of the books that was not near his best efforts and an example of how reputation can sell an absurd amount of books. Some of the books that I thought were not very good were "Bag of Bones"( a recycled version of "The Dead Zone") and "The Cell" (a recycled version of "The Stand"). I have heard much praise for "Under The Dome". It would be great to read something of his top notch capabilities. "Thinner" was fantastic! It has been awhile since Stephen King has written a book comparable to his first 10-15 years though.. There is many well written horror books still being penned that does not go with the flow of vigilante justice.


message 48: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments very interesting post Rick. I figured there must be a few examples although extremely rare.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Some of the Bachman a.k.a. King stuff was quite good. The Running Man, Thinner and the Regulators, which was a companion volume to Desperation. I did think his layer stuff got overly long and tame,..."

I have to admitt- I HAVE NEVER READ A STEPHEN KING BOOK!
might be only one in Group who hasnt- but I really want to read Dome- my sis-in law just read it and said it was as good as any of his earlier works when he wasnt turning out a 1000 page book every 6 months


message 50: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Gasp!! Never? Oh my, but you must Rick, you must.


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