14 years ago, my brother came up with a great idea. He said, “Why don’t we have a film strip festival party.” Like so many ideas, we went for it. We stretched a bed sheet between a couple of volleyball poles. We borrowed a projector and invited a few friends to the back yard. About 30 people turned up for the show. Since we had entitled our production company Gangrene Productions, we decided to call the event the Gangrene Film Strip Festival.
Recently I had a conversation with my younger brother. We talked about music and the difference between art and genre pop. We concluded at the end of the conversation that in order to be an artist, one must remain true to his or her expression whether it be music, writing, painting or otherwise. And one must not be concerned about financial compensation. This is because in the face of so much pop media, audiences rarely recognize true artists.
Fifteen years ago, I and a small group of friends scraped together a back yard film festival party. I think maybe 30 people showed up, some of them bringing short comedy films they had shot. We projected the films on a bed-sheet stretched between two volleyball poles. It was so much fun we decided to do it again the next year. So many people came that we decided to move it to a rented high school auditorium for the third year. Now about a thousand people show up every year for this event.
If you feel creatively blocked, like you have run out of good story ideas, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. I believe that if you can come up with one great story idea, then you have an unlimited supply of other ideas in that creative head of yours ready to break free and flow out onto paper.
Although Scrivener has wonderful features, there are a few risky things about it that make it dangerous to use. Scrivener offers many excellent tools to keep chapters, research, character sketches, and external documents in good order. But it lacks big time in portability.
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of calculating and recalculating your story length in pages and word counts while trying to put down your novel. Especially for new writers, hefty word counts feel good. Long stories seem to indicate writing stamina. In my opinion, hefty word counts mean nothing more than typing stamina.
Friends often recommend novels to me, telling me, “you won’t be able to put this one down.” I guess I have a short attention span because I usually have no trouble putting any book aside.
A while ago, I became intrigued with the idea of writing a few songs about zombies. This mild interest turned into 2 studio albums, Zombie Sing-a-long and Zombie Sing-a-long: Whistler and the Children (Part 1)–with part 2 coming soon. As part of releasing the first zombie record, I performed a few of the songs live and posted them on the internet. I offer you a zombie love song entitled “So Tender” with music by yours truly and zombie love song lyrics by my good friend Mark Steiner.
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Along with advanced weaponry and raw grit, humans have faced evil in many forms. Such trials have led to the buildup of strongholds and caches of food, water and energy. It is arguable that such strongholds can’t support the numbers required to save humanity, that a selection process or a draft might become necessary to determine who lives and who dies. Although such a draft might become the norm in the face of a zombie apocalypse, I posture that humans will still stand. They will gather where they must, in private compounds, armed with private weapons, undoubtedly unregistered. They will organize into ranks and files, creating their own martial protocol. For most of the scattered tribes of humanity, there might be no recognition for government, but humanity will survive. If for no other reason than that humanity must survive.
For whatever reason, people love those gory, flesh chewing monsters: zombies. I attended lunch with a publisher who had recently broken away from Wizards of the Coast. She outlined her pics on hot, upcoming fiction. At the time, she told us to poise ourselves for the year of the zombie. I felt good about that, because I had just finished the first draft of my novel, Allied Zombies for Peace. That was nearly 4-years ago. More recently, I worked with a talented comic book artist on an exhibition of performance art at a comic book convention. We talked about zombies. He said, “I thought it was just a fad.” A fad it may be, but zombies are a fad that can’t be killed with a pick axe, chainsaw, or any other instrument.
A few weeks ago, I began an ongoing review of the Scrivener Software tools for writers. I began with an initial look at the software by watching a few of their tutorial videos then diving into draft mode. I decided it would be helpful to write an entire project, novella length at least, in Scrivener and post my notes about Scrivener along the way.
I thought it might be fun to release some of the background material I write in the process of putting together my novels. Currently, while pre-readers are working their way through my second novel, SMALL TOWN MONSTERS, I’m working on the second of 4 interleaving stories that will make up my upcoming third novel, FUNK TOAST AND THE PAN-GALACTIC PROM SHOW. This story outlines the journey of The Poison Nickels, the opening band for Funk Toast at the Collundrome’s premier event in the novel.
Craig Nybo (Allied Zombies for Peace) collaborates with Brady Canfield (Wombat Rue) to create the first ever live comic at SLCNerd, a convention held in Salt Lake City.
I enjoy playing in a band with a group of lifelong friends. We play under the band names: Wasasquatch, Rustmonster, and Funk Toast, depending on our mood. Getting ready for an upcoming Wasasquatch show, we interpreted and recorded Rebecca Black’s Friday Friday. We had such fun with it that we decided to shoot a rock video. Here it is.
I had a blast reading this book. It’s tons of fun. It’s clear that Mr. Butler is a musician. He knows his stuff. He uses the lingo as he tells the story of a touring band bent on going after the devil himself. It’s a revenge story with electric guitars and even a rock and roll tambourinist.
KAYSVILLE, UT – Zombies seek equal rights in Craig Nybo’s new book, Allied Zombies for Peace. Nybo’s novel pits an undead civil rights group against the KKK during a 1968 Veteran’s day parade. Throw in a tough as nails faction of Vietnam War veterans, a group of peace loving hippies, a smattering of World War 1 veterans and the Columbus, Ohio Police Department and an otherwise patriotic parade turns into an unfettered slugfest.
In an earlier post, I commented about writing a novel with Scrivener. I lumped Scrivener with many other products. I might have been too hasty in my judgment.
Often, specialized novel writing programs, such as Scrivener, Storybook, or Newnovelist offer unnecessary crutches. It is important to remember, as a writer, that the most important component to writing is… drumroll please… writing. Although writing a novel with Scrivener seems like an attractive draw, it is better to balance what it takes to learn a new, complicated piece of software with just getting the copy down. It’s better to spend your precious writing time putting your ideas on paper than marching up a new software learning curve.
What is the best zombie book ever written? According to Tor books, Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry tops the list, followed by My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland.
With Small Town Monsters nearly complete—at this point slated for an April release—I get to choose my next project. I always enjoy the creative crossroads. I have learned that creativity begets creativity. Once one gets into the zone and plows into a project, it is difficult to turn off the idea generation machine. New ideas flow into the mind at every turn. This often makes it difficult to stick to task and finish the project at hand.
The good people at The Inside Mag contacted me and asked if I had anything I would like to publish on their entertaining and informative online magazine. I looked through my files of unpublished short work and found Soul Broker.
I just received the final artwork of the wraparound cover for Small Town Monsters. I think it’s brilliant. Paul Alexandrescu, a skilled artist who resides in Bucharest, Romania—the perfect location to be painting werewolves—again delivered expectedly wonderful work. He also illustrated the cover for Allied Zombies for Peace.
Good prose flows like water, sometimes at a trickle, sometimes in torrents. As an author, it is your job to keep that water moving by removing—or even more importantly, not placing—obstacles in the path of the flow.
Yesterday, I was thrilled to receive the initial comps for the jacket to my upcoming novel, Small Town Monsters. I am working, once again, with Alexandrescu Paul, a talented artist who resides in Romania. He illustrated the cover for Allied Zombies for Peace and I am happy to work with him again.
Still plugging away at SMALL TOWN MONSTERS. The current revision has become more involved than I initially anticipated. I wrote the first rev of this book waaaay back in 2005. At the time, I thought it was complete. Boy was I wrong. I have become a much better writer since then.
Many new fiction authors view writing the great and mighty novel as an almost insurmountable task. There is no mystery to completing long form fiction; it takes elbow grease, patience, and perseverance. It also takes an organized plot structure on which to hang your prose.
Every story comes at you with its own voice. On a plate of foot, if plot and character are the meat and potatoes, voice is the seasoning. Meat can be seasoned mildly with a little table salt, perhaps some paprika and a dash of cumin just to add some interest. The same meat can be seasoned with hotter than Dante’s 9th circle of hell habanero flakes, horseradish, and a pinch of cayenne. The meat remains the same, but the experience of eating the entre is wholly different.
As my debut novel, Allied Zombies for Peace, has hit the print world in paperback form, I have turned my attention to releasing the same work to the eBook world. I thought, erroneously, that this would be a simple process. But as I have researched the market, I have discovered this to be quite an involved process.
I recently finished writing a novella entitled Funk Toast and the Pan-galactic Prom Show. I have to say, this story has been an absolute pleasure to write. Putting the words down felt like eating a great big cloud of cotton candy. Each bite made me smile. I found myself giggling at every turn in the plot.
Some authors pound their staves, declaring like town criers, that the best place to start when writing any story is by exploring the main characters. These authors are correct in this sentiment. There are other authors who, with perhaps an even larger staff, pound even harder, shouting that plot is the place to start and that without conflict found only in plot structure, character can not be fully fleshed out. These authors are also correct.
Zombies go up against the KKK in this new novel. Check out the book trailer. You can buy Allied Zombies for Peace, from Amazon.com or any other book sellers. You can get an autographed copy by buying it right here at craignybo.com.
Looking for explosions, violence, and mayhem, look no further than act 3. You can think of act 3 of your story as its business end. Up to this point, your protagonist has slogged through a lot of “blood, guts, and beer”—as put by the late great Johnny Cash. But, much to your protagonist’s chagrin, her journey is not over. Although she has overcome many obstacles in the form of first and second act conflict sequences, the final rounds, the rounds found in act 3, will exact more of her than any conflict she has faced to this point in your story.
Undoubtedly, now that you have written a roadmap for act I you have a pretty good idea of what you want your protagonist to accomplish in act II. Let’s get started. As I have so often stated, when writing a long form piece like a novel or a feature screenplay, it is helpful to employ…
Pre-order The Novel Today Allied Zombies for Peace – A Novel Expected release date: 10/31/2012 Pick it up for $8.99 + $2.00 Shipping to anywhere in the USA. Zombies vs. the KKK: The darkest hour in undead civil rights history. Allied Zombies for Peace covers the violent 42-minute time period that took place on…
During this exercise, you will be forced to explore the feasibility of your story. You will have to face plot problems head on and work them out. You will discover nuances to your story that you haven’t yet considered. You will open new characters and log them into your character document. You will give yourself research assignments.
Last Friday, I was elated receive a highly anticipated package in the mail. I worked open the end of the cardboard box and upended it. The contents spilled into my hand.
After years of agonizing, I have finally decided to self-publish my debut novel, Allied Zombies for Peace. Self-publishing makes me nervous. Print on demand presses constrain no one from publishing their work, whether it is good or poor. Hence, readers often think of self-published novels as sub-par. There is truth to this.
Get ready to roll up your sleeves; its time to put some real elbow grease into your story structure. By now you have a good idea of what your story is going to be. You have probably been working on it in your head even when you are away from your word processor. The more you think about your story, the quicker you will find ways to add twists and turns to the plot and nuances to the characters. But it is essential to put your ideas down on paper.
Even the best writers say, “Write what you know.” It’s an old mantra that writers hear all the time from key note speakers at writing conferences. Although it is important for you to write within the spectrum of your experience, it is also important to write a compelling story that convinces readers of the legitimacy of setting, feasibility, and character sincerity. Research then becomes essential.
By now you have a living story in your head. It’s scratching and clawing from the inside, trying to get out. To this point, you have barely dipped your pen in the inkwell by writing a logline and theme. You have started to organize your approach by putting together a story canon. It’s now time to craft a story skeleton upon which you can later hang all of the necessary organs and flesh (in some cases quite a gory endeavor). Time to add to your treatment document.
Living as a writer, whether you are published or not, writing great novels or spending evenings to help those in need to buy papers online, has many perks. The greatest of which, in my opinion, is the constant and unstoppable parade of stories in your head. Now that you have reached the point where you…
Now that you have an effective logline written for your novel, it’s time to breath life into your idea by giving it a clearly defined theme. You might be thinking, “Theme? Come on, Craig, I’m not writing one of Aesop’s fables.” To that I say, not so fast. There is a strong argument for theme. Read on to find out more.
Several people have asked me through this blog where they can get this or that project on which I have participated. First, such requests flatter me. Thank you so much for showing interest in any of my projects. It is an honor to find that you have enjoyed them.
Responding to the request, I thought I would post a listing of everything that I have released over the years that is free. By free, I mean you can download anything on this list without paying for it. But some of these projects are attached to mild requests for donations. Should you want to dotate a little, bless you. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the show.
Do you want to write a novel? I think I can help. I have decided to post a series of articles I have written that share a method I use to write novels. Admittedly, every novel seems to come from a different place and I employ as many techniques as I tell stories. But this method has worked for me many times.
I guarantee that if you follow this approach, you will end up with a finished novel. To put my money where my mouth is, I demonstrate every article in this series by developing a story right in front of your eyes. By reading this series, you will see a new Craig Nybo novel bloom from inception to completion.
I expect to hit the world with Allied Zombies for Peace as my debut novel. This story follows a group of civil rights activist zombies as they march in the 1968 Veteran’s Day parade in Columbus, Ohio. When parade officials place the Allied Zombies for Peace, a civil rights group, behind the Ku Klux Klan for the fourth year in a row, sparks ignite. Add in a tough as nails Vietnam Vet contingent and a group of Nam war protestors that call themselves the New Revolutionaries for Peace and Love, and you have a bomb on your hands with a spark-spitting cannon fuse. When everything explodes into bedlam, the “Veteran’s Day Parade Massacre” becomes a benchmark event in civil rights history.
I just put the master CD for Zombie Sing-a-long: Whistler and the Children (Part 1) in the mail. I am completely excited about this new record. I had a blast writing the songs and recording them down at mediaRif.com studios. I especially enjoyed collaborating with friends on this project. A shout goes out to them.
As I prepare the final tracks for the second Zombie Sing-a-long record, I have to look back on this project, put my hands on my hips, and shake my head a little bit. The record offers 10 new zombie related songs and part 1 of a story called Whistler and the Children (read by Nate Peck). On the surface, Zombie Sing-a-long: Whistler and the Children (Part 1) comes off as just another record out in the already noisy independent artist community. But for me, this record represents an interesting journey.
This concept album follows the story of post zombie apocalyptic long-haul trucker, Whistler, as he gets more than he bargained for when he attempts to loot an abandoned big box store in the zombie aftermath. He discovers that a group of children, lead by a kid named Dutchy, have holed up in the store. Before he knows it, Dutchy and his half-pint followers knock Whistler cold and intend to steal his tractor-trailer to strike out on their own. Whistler must free himself and rescue the children before they fall to the appetites of hundreds of flesh-eating zombies.
Breaker Z follows a band of long-haul truckers as they come to the defense of a little, Southern Utah community against an onslaught of zombies.
This novel has been an interesting experience for me. Originally I intended it to be a short story to be read on an album, interleaved with songs about the undead. But as I put together character sketches and a plot outline, I soon saw that it had more weight than I had expected. This project, as a short story, left too much unsaid. I decided to say it.
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