October 17, 2012
THE SWARM nears 20,000 sales - and I did not know
It should be no surprise I love October. I was born just six days from Halloween, so it is no wonder I like this time of year so much. It must also explain why I like to write the unnerving stuff I write. I have been focused on some entrepreneurial things beyond writing, but my mind always turns back to the thing I really love and it always happens this time of year. So THE SWARM, which has sold almost 20,000 copies in less than a year (I actually added them up today), will be re-marketed for the remaining weeks of October in celebration of MY MONTH (yes, I wrote that). I sort of became so busy that I forgot to check my sales, but on Amazon in the UK it was selling like 1,700 a month past two months.
I found a couple of reviews of THE SWARM that are not on NOOK or Amazon. Check them out!
BEYOND THE SIGN WILL BE RELEASED DIGITALLY on October 31, 2012 on Apple, Nook and Kindle Devices. I think this book is the most unnerving, thought-provoking one I have written to date. I think if you read THE SWARM and then BEYOND THE SIGN, it will show you two very different stories with equal weirdness. It will also show you much more character depth and complexity. So check back, keep your index fingers (or your thumb, if your one of those odd people...I will not even suggest the eleventh finger, but God only knows...) hovering near your smart phone.
Here are some teaser reviews for BEYOND THE SIGN. Note that the original title of the book was OLD DIRT ROAD. Check them out!
I put some thought into why my creative juices (and other juices, but let us not go there now...my eleventh finger is busy downloading apps in my iPhone) always flow around this time of year. Perhaps it's the noise the wind makes as it moves, unchecked, through leaf-less trees. There is a gleeful, celebratory tone to it, isn't there? Or it might be the way the sun falls, not sinking but dropping below the trees with little warning. I think, too, that it might be the way a gray-washed sky can suddenly unleash a binding winter snow, blowing your electricity out and leaving you, a shadow among shadows, to think how strange your home feels in candlelight. I think often about how malformed shadows look inside a powerless home, especially in the fall months when the days grow short. I think all these ideas culminate into a single, self-preserving thought in us all: fear the night, and the creatures that lurk therein.
September 20, 2012
BEYOND THE SIGN - To be released on Halloween
I am really, REALLY excited for this book to get out there and to see how it is received. It is more polished than The Swarm. I think it is a tremendously complex story, with a lot of symbolism, but above all the story that starts with Eddie Glenn stumbling into that space at the end of the dirt road, where the shadows seem misplaced and the sound of the highway is somehow moaning, was truly unsettling and unnerving to me. I do not know where these ideas come from, honestly. The Great Gulf maybe, where the dead sing? I do not know. Sometimes when I am finished with a book, or while wrapped deep in it, I understand why some artists go over the Edge. It is a scary thing to not feel in control, like you are driving a car in which you cannot turn the steering wheel...just sit back and roll with it. But is anyone of us really in control? But as heavy and troubling as BEYOND THE SIGN was to me, its author, it has tremendous meaning and power and it was liberating to write. It also ended up being so personally prophetic that I get chills thinking about it. Perhaps I will write about that once a bunch of people read it.
February 24, 2012
The Mile Jetty - Freebie (and one of my fav)
As promised, here is another short story called The Mile Jetty. I think you will like it. It was actually one of the first stories I wrote, when I was just discovering something within me as a story teller. This version is a rewrite, because the first one was rough and choppy. I think this version is much better. My parents have a small beach house in a NJ shore town (very much like the fictional Bay Isle in THE SWARM). When they first had it, I went alone for a walk on this part of the beach that is a designated Bird Sanctuary. It is roped off, and you cannot swim there, but at certain times of the year when the birds are not nesting, you can walk along it. Well, it is about a mile walk to the end, and at the end is this gray jetty stretching into the water. On the way there, alone on a gray morning, I came across a sea turtle that had died on the sand. It was so odd and out-of-place that it set my mind on edge. I got to the jetty shortly later, and walked to the end of it. I was alone the whole time, and my imagination was already accelerating. As I stepped over the gaps in the rocks, I saw a lot of trash: beer bottles, a friggin shoe, dead fish. I did not stay on the jetty very long. I went back home, passing the dead turtle that watched me with its dead black eyes. I kept wondering why there was so much trash stuck in the jetty, and this imaginative story came forth.
This will always remain one of my favorites. Partially because it was during a time when I was discovering my talent, but also because it was borne of a real-life experience that was just so strange!
Thank you everyone for following along! Keep checking back, keep reading good books, and do not head to strange jettys alone.The Mile Jetty - Short Story
February 16, 2012
Stephen King's Pet Semetary
This is, hands down, the most frightening novel in existence. Stephen King has often talked about how he left the book in a draw, unpublished, because he believed it would be too awful to bring to the public. Let me talk a bit about it. Also, if you HAVE NOT READ PET SEMETARY, then DO NOT READ THIS POST, as it will spoil it.
I think King is referencing the death of the toddler, Gage, as the too awful part. Certainly, that is horrific and awful. But I think that, even if the novel had not involved a child's death, it would still be the most frightening novel ever.
Why? King's language and prose. In this work, above all, King's writing at its best presents a feeling of omnipresent dread and helplessness. As in most books I read that are worthwhile (and these days I am not finding that many, sadly, most fiction published seems to be generic copies of each other), I will dog-ear pages where certain passages struck me as very powerful. And because I am a writer, ever once and a while I will re-read those pages for inspiration, or to remind myself I have light-years to travel before my talent is at a comparable level (if ever). Here is a passage that I marked. For those that have read Pet Semetary, this is the part where Winston Churchhill, the Creed's cat, gets run over and Jud, the neighbor, calls Louis and startles him out of an afternoon nap. Louis, the protagonist, knows that it will be his little daughter's cat before even seeing it. Upon seeing Louis's reaction, Jud will then decide to pass on the secret of the Micmac burial ground beyond the Pet Semetary. This is some of the most powerful, dread-inducing prose I have ever read, and it is the perfect setup for what is to come: a journey past the dead-fall and into the strange woods in which the rolling laughter of a (Wendigo?) creature can be heard. We all know what happens to the cat after it is buried up on that Micmac burial ground, where the bedrock's close. Anyway, here is what I consider one of the most powerful dread-invoking two paragraphs ever:
It was about five-thirty. Twilight was ending. The landscape had a dead look. The remaining sunset was a strange orange line on the horizon across the river. The wind bowled straight down Route 15, numbing Louis's cheeks and whipping away the white plume of his breath. He shuddered, but not from the cold. It was a feeling of aloneness that made him shudder. It was strong and persuasive. There seemed no way to concretize it with metaphor. It was faceless. He just felt by himself, untouched and untouching.
He saw Jud across the road, bundled up in his big green duffel coat, his face lost in the shadow cast by the fur-fringed hood. Standing on the frozen lawn, he looked like a piece of statuary, just another dead thing in this twilight landscape where no bird sang.
Right after this, Louis goes to cross the highway and almost gets run down by a truck (foreshadow), until stopping at the last minute. Much later, when Gage is struck by the truck, we get the impression as readers that the Micmac burial ground and the spirit/evil/whatever trapped there somehow can control the trucks or cause these accidents, as if knowing what will happen: that some idiot will come and bury whatever the trucks hit. These two paragraphs, in very simple language, provide the omnipresent sense of dread that will be with you, as the reader, as you move forward in the book from this point on.
He just felt by himself, untouched and untouching. Man, in the context of the story, that is a powerful line. I also believe there is much more in terms of the story's roots: the part of it we do not see, or might not see upon first or second read. Pet Semetary is at its core a novel about secrets. King writes in the forward, Death is a mystery. Burial is a secret. The rest of the novel adds to the strength of this, including Rachel's sick sister (Zelda, I think her name was) who was secretly locked away. Why not click the link below, which directs you to a post I did on Stephen King's website and user forum. It lays out some of my thoughts on why, after Mr. King wrote the book, he saw what the book was about at its core and strengthened it. Even consider the mispelling of the title "Semetary" instead of "Cemetary", which I talk about in the forum post. Did King do this by accident, and then cleverly disguise it to the reader as a child's mistake? I am not sure, but I think not. Secrets begins with "S", and the Pet Semetary is the biggest secret, passed on by the men of Ludlow through generations. Do you know why? Because the soil of man's heart is stonier. And a man grows what he can, and tends it. Read the post, and perhaps re-read this masterpiece, if you can.
February 12, 2012
THE SWARM peaked at No. 10 on Barnes & Noble NOOK Top 100, and a stupid reviewer on Amazon
THE SWARM, a horror and supernatural thriller, peaked at No. 10 on Barnes & Noble Top 100. This was yesterday and now it is down to No. 11, which still is not bad. It has been selling 1,000 copies a day for the past couple days. Thank you everyone for reading it! I am hoping this generates enough income for me to write full time, as I have many stories to tell.
On another note, I read a review this morning on Amazon for THE SWARM that gave me a 3-star on the condition that the first scene, which involves and describes the experiences of a miscarraige, was too vial for her to read. She then had the audacity to presume that I never had a miscarraige.
She is terribly wrong. The first chapter of the novel describe what my wife and I went through. The description is...well, descriptive and visercal and is meant to evoke emotions of disgust and horror. After all, what about the lose of a child (whether a fetus or in reality) is not disgusting and vile?
But I get it. Somethings are too difficult to watch or read or face with clear eyes. I cannot watch anything on the news related to children being hurt. As a father of two now, such acts go against all my instincts and emotions, and couple that with my very clear imagination, I cannot handle listening to news stories on children being hurt. The Casey Anthony case was one of them. While all my family was watching the trial, I could not stand to listen to the descriptions and actions.
I would think that, if it was described so vividly and powerfully, than this would be evidence that I had first hand experience with it. In any event, you can read the review and my comment back to the village idiot HERE
Thank you again, and hopefully will have some exciting news for anyone following along (here is a teaser: potential movie deals and print book deals, but that is all I can say now!).
February 11, 2012
A Freebie, as thank you - Just a Messenger Short Story
As a thank you, I wanted to put a downloadable short story up for FREE. It is a PDF file, which means everyone should be able to get it. It is a horror story, and you will have to go into it with an open mind. A lot of the technical stuff probably does not work, but that did not stop me: I had a story to tell and I told it. It is told almost exclusively through Instant Messages and emails, which I thought would be fun. I wrote it back in 2004, before the popularity of Facebook and Twitter, so I stuck to good old Instant Messanger. And so the formating may seem odd, but it works, I think. Hope you enjoy it, Dimple.
February 8, 2012
THE SWARM has been kicking some literary (literal?) ass - What the hell does the ending mean?
I am really happy THE SWARM got to No. 2 on the NOOK horror bestseller list and likewise No. 23 on KINDLE. I actually had a solicitation from two movie production companies, which was cool and unexpected, though I am fairly sure nothing will come of it.
I want to talk a bit about the literary aspects of THE SWARM, though some may argue there are none and that is fine; art and creation is great because it allows for a wide variety of opinions. First, though, I apologize that the replies on this blog were deleted. For some reason, the posts were appearing throughout the enter page on each topic. Since I did the programming myself, I need to stop to figure out why, then get a better version up. I am very sorry about that! In the interim, if you had questions on this, you can email me directly rob_(at)_sketchesfromacelestialsea(.)com. Remove the underscores and other junk; this helps stop spam.
There was a review on Amazon that gave me 3 stars today, and one of the concerns (besides the typos, phew, I will not live those down) was that the ending was not clear, or not explained. So originally I had recorded a video of me talking about the Deeper Meaning in THE SWARM, but it was too disjointed and rambling (my thoughts flow much better while writing). Finally, though, this 3-star review prompted me to offer a little more on THE SWARM to those who have read it, and it is provided at length below. If you have not finished THE SWARM, THEN DO NOT READ FURTHER, for there be spoilers ahead, Wanderer.
First, there is no right way to have interpreted the ending or book. This is not school, or an assignment and I am not a professor or literary scholar. I wrote THE SWARM to tell a story, but saw something deeper as I was writing it. So if what you read here is not what you took away from THE SWARM, no worries; I will not be mad and you will not be wrong. Art is an interpretation or way for the artist to express the world, and it is not always received the same way by those who read or see it. So please do not be upset or mad or discouraged or hateful if this is not what you thought, okay? Thanks.
As THE SWARM progressed, I began to see threads throughout the book. They were no overtly apparent, but rather formed the mesh back-bone that held the story up, and it occurred to me that there was something more in the book and that I should strengthen it. I am not Hemingway or Fitzgerald or James Joyce, just Rob Heinze, the guy who is apt to trip while walking on stage in front of a crowd, and I did my best with it. Here we go, we are about to get crazy in here, ready?
There is a belief in something called The Collective Unconscious, which was a term coined by Carl Jung. Here is an excerpt directly from Wikipedia.com:
My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
The collective unconscious concept is also featured heavily in Yeats powerful poem, The Second Coming, in which it, The Collective Unconscious, is referred to as Spiritus Mundi from which the poet receives a mental image of the antichrist being born in a desert wasteland. For those that have read THE SWARM, you will find a lot of Yeats poem echoed throughout the novel, particularly when reading about the character Reagan and direct language borrowed from it, such as, the ceremony of innocence shall be renewed.
A modern day analogy to the Collective Unconscious would be saying that all humans come pre-programmed (pre-coded, engineered, whatever) with already downloaded images, thoughts, fears, etc...(like that of the antichrist in Yeat$#39s poem) that are universal to all of humanity. If this does not support the evidence that Something (or Someone) created us, then I do not know what does.
I then thought, well, what if there was Collective Unconsciousness that was not human? Surely, there must be, right? And I further thought, if all of conscious beings of the same species share a pre-programmed collective unconscious, could it not be possible that a human, if provided a link (think again in terms of the modern computer world) to an alien collective unconscious, could that human not receive new experiences through some sort of mental download? Could it not be possible that a similarity in alien Collective Unconscious and Humanity#39s Collective Unconscious exists?
I believe that is very possible, and I also believe that all of life (even non-living things, in fact, for there are only so many chemical elements with which to form the physicality of our universe) is connected and shares a core of creation. Think about it: if the Big Bang created the universe from a central point and exploded outward, all things in the Universe must share characteristics. I am not a physicist, though I have always loved astrophysics and general physics, and wish I had more of a mind bent towards the geniuses in that field. But instead I can use only my artistic skills (or lack thereof) and senses to think about the universe. So really think about it, and tell me if it might not be possible that some other life-force could be scattered throughout the universe from the Big Bang, evolving without us knowing, its ultimate evolution goal to go back home, to its core, its existence and creation? Is that not what we, humans, are doing here?
So with this in mind, you can see why the ending of THE SWARM grew incoherent as the 1-star reviewer on Amazon wrote. There is no easy way to express this with words, while keeping it in the context of the story narrative and not descending into cant and lecturing. I never wanted to write a story showing the above stuff, but I wanted it to be there, get it? Like the ever-reaching roots of a tree that hold it up, out of sight, but which can be unearthed if dug. That is what great books do, and while THE SWARM does not qualify as a Great Book, it is my humble attempt and it means much to me.
Here is some more food for thought, to steal a cliché. There are a large amount of foreshadowing elements as to what the ending will be, most of which are references to going home or coming home. For instance, the rich guy, Colin Redman, who gets killed (unplanned, even surprised me) felt like the washing waves seemed to whisper to him welcome home, my love, welcome home. In the same capacity, Quentin Warsaw (the character for whom I actually felt a little sorrow, as he seemed unable to keep himself from spiraling into worse situations) feels as though he came home when he was at that strange spot. There is also one point in which there is reference to women pregnant from the swarm twirling in quick circles as if to blast off (think about that with the context with the ending). Of course, there is the woman Kelly, who is mumbling home, home, home while in the throes of one of her many trances (or downloads from an alien collective unconscious).
I would ask people who called the book incoherent to consider how difficult it is to write the scenes of Kelly's visions (or downloads). The human language was created from human experience and serves to represent and communicate our world to each other. A writer, whose tools are words, is limited to language to describe something beyond his or her experience. Trying to provide a simile or analogy to an alien unconscious or alien experience...well, it ain't easy, sleazy. So while Kelly's visions and the ending may seem rambling and incoherent, there really is no other way to express it. The woman getting the information, think how she must feel, how that must contort her mind, her connection with reality (at least as we humans know it). So in this context, it has to be incoherent and does require a little more thought, but only if you want to dig up the roots, you know what I'm saying? Those are always my favorite type of books and stories.
And what we have in the end, where Kelly gives birth and forms the physical link to the alien consciousness (which was the island itself), the connection completes and it is now able to link to its other relatives (for lack of better word) and pull into its great core, the point of its creation. What that is...I do not know. It was only how I envisioned it. And as to why it was light that was described as rising, well, how is distance measured in the universe? In light-years, indicating that at the speed of light (which travels the fastest of all things and is representative of energy in the SWARM ending) is the only practical way to transverse the universe. This is why, at the end, the sky comes alive with lights as all these scattered alien entities connect and go home, to that single spot, billions of light-years away, which shone longer than the rest and blinked out.
Readers, are we destined for the same spot on the edge of the universe? When we die, when we go home? I do not know, but I think we will find out just how much all our universe is connected at that time, when we go home.
So that is it, still not easy to express, and I think it works better in the context of the story, rather than spat out here like so much intellectual mucus. If this is too heavy for you, or not what you got, no worries. THE SWARM started as a story, and it ended as a story. I just saw these underlying threads in the book, and brought them together and am now showing you, Reader, what I found.
Also, if you want to comment on this, click the Facebook link on the left and I will start a new post and you can comment below. Peace, Rob
January 16, 2012
In Which Author Rob Heinze (me) Discusses Why There Are No Print Books of His...AND also talks briefly about THE SWARM, his newest novel
Here I am in all my rambling, stumbling, I-am-a-writer-not-speaker glory. You have been warned, but if you want, go ahead and listen to me ramble about why my books are only available digitally and also ramble about THE SWARM.
Copyright 2012 by Rob Heinze