Cover Art: The Underneath

So I’m dusting off my very limited cover-making skills and this is the first test subject. “The Underneath” was published a couple of years back in the bizarro print anthology compiled by fellow writer/editor Joe Jablonsky, entitled Like Frozen Statues of Flesh. The plan at this point is to re-publish the story in digital/e-book form for the first time, via Smashwords. Covers tend to be required for these sort of things and I am a small-time author with a small-time budget (i.e. no budget). That particular predicament invokes the D-I-Y mindset of taking matters into my own hands and, while summoning the spirit of independence (i.e. no-name author of meager means), I make fresh ice tea out of lemons myself. Wait, that’s not quite how that’s supposed to go. Well, at any rate, this is the first pass at it. An arm with a gaping wound, which is integral to the bizarre happenings in the story. It actually came to me pretty quickly (I fortunately have a rather eager Muse). This image might stick. It may not, if, for instance, I manage to do something even more cool and creepy with an eyeball (ya gotta read the story once it’s available to know what I mean by that).

Here are some covers I designed in the past (clicky to enlarge):

My best Photoshop work ever, for the digital edition of my short story "Pieces of Candice"
My best Photoshop work ever, for the digital edition of my short story “Pieces of Candice”
A makeshift cover I made for the digital edition of my short story "All Things Considered"
A makeshift cover I made for the digital edition of my short story “All Things Considered”
A little makeshift cover I cooked up in Photoshop for the digital edition of my microfiction "Shard"
A little makeshift cover I cooked up in Photoshop for the digital edition of my microfiction “Shard”
Another makeshift cover by me for the digital version of my short story "Mass Graves"
Another makeshift cover by me for the digital version of my short story “Mass Graves”



Bedtime Story: “Pieces of Candice” by Brandon L.Rucker

Want some dark reading before you go nite-nite? Well, I’ve got a story for you that I think you’ll like if you dig your Edgar Allan Poe mixed with a touch of F. Paul Wilson, or Ramsey Campbell, or Clive Barker, or Stephen King. Yeah, Poe & King might be the main ingredients in this sick soup of a psychological horror story that is “Pieces of Candice”. It’s one of my oldest, darkets, sickest and most unapologetic tales ever told (and I hope to never write something like it ever again, heh-heh).

Excerpt (from the intro):
Please allow me be perfectly clear that this is not a tell-all confession of all the misdeeds that I have done over the years. It is simply an admission about one particular indiscretion.
I wish to confess to anyone who will listen to, and failing that, anyone who will read my brief account of madness concerning one Candice Bean. You will assume I’m a madman and that this confession is a plea for sympathy or for mere bragging rights. My only hope is that no one finds these lurid details to be too sinister that they would deem me as an unreliable source. Make no mistake that what happened to Candice years ago by my terrible hands is indeed true. [more]

Inspired in the mid-90s by the menacing voice used in Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart” , “Pieces of Candice” was first completed in late 1998 and revised a few times over the years after that, but was never submitted for publication until 2010.  The story was accepted and published in Madness of the Mind by writer/editor/publisher Chris Bartholomew through her own Static Movement publishing imprint.  As the head writer of Serial Killer Magazine, she knows a thing or three about horror stories and serial killers.  Earlier this year the story was self-published by the author at Smashwords for digital download to computers and a variety of digital readers.

Update: What Is and What Will Be

This past week I have decided to self-publish a collection of short stories called [CLASSIFIED]. It will be 15 stories, a mix of shorts, flashes and micros.  I have amassed a pretty large vault of stories since the mid-90s, many of which I’ve just been  hoarding like some possessive little hermit for one reason or another. Most of them are from a time when I was a writer who was much more prolific and not as distracted with family and other commitments. One story is newer, and another is so brand new it’s not even written yet, but it is one I have been mulling for a few weeks now that will be a tribute to Nippon-koku/Nihon-koku/Japan. My intention is to release this collection sometime in July, so I will be polishing those babies up and getting them nice and pretty for their big day. What’s not decided yet is if I will take a stab at Amazon’s new self-publish direct to Kindle platform, or just go with Smashwords. And speaking of Smashwords

Smashwords Progress report: (reads/downloads/samples)
Shard: A Bloody Microfiction = 124 since 3/11/11
Mass Graves: A Story for Haiti = 79 since 3/11/11
All Things Considered = 14 since 3/12/11
Pieces of Candice = 12 since 3/12/11

It should be noted that the bottom two were once erroneously listed as for sale at $1.99 and $.99, repectively (my error). “Candice” was rectified last week, and I just fixed “All Things” today. I’ve set both up for Premium Distribution to all the major digital retailers. Should only be a matter of time ‘fore they arrive at those venues. In the meantime they are available for FREE read and download over at Smashwords.

It’s cool to see that a bunch of people have read your writing. Without readers, writing is a little less relevent. Art is to be shared with humanity, not hoarded away from it.

In other news…

Not sure when I will get to the Round 2 matchups for the Gen. Rock & Alt-Rock Region in the Battle of the Bands Tournament. I have a lunch meeting this afternoon in Downtown Indy with Silver Pen founder/president & colleague, Karl Rademacher (whom I’ve talked to, but not yet met), who is in town on business. I haven’t lived in Indianapolis in some five years now (although I started working down there again last summer), and I typically loathe driving in downtown traffic (I hate one-way streets). So Rademacher’s lure, aside from the requisite good company and conversation?

  • “I’ll pay for your parking”
  • “And the chow”
  • “It’s the least I can do, especially asking you to drive in this crap weather.”

Well, I’m no fool. I’ll be Downtown this afternoon. I have no idea where we’re going to eat and chill. Maybe I’ll take pics. Maybe we’ll get some good ideas going for our fledgling Writer’s Association.

Perhaps later today I’ll get back to the Battle of the Bands Tournament. If not today, then tomorrow will be a triple-header.

Off to the shower, but before I go, I found some beautiful music by Sleepingdog thanks to one Warren Ellis (the English writer, not the Australian musician).

Pieces of Candice (and a Smashwords update)

Candice is feeling a bit lonesome. Of the four stories I have up over at Smashwords, “Pieces of Candice”, an Edgar Allan Poe inspired horror story, is trailing behind in downloads. She needs your help (and if you read the story, you’ll know why).

As a psychological horror story with a touch of gore, it’s certainly one of the darkest pieces I’ve ever written. It’s also one of the earliest as the seeds for it date back to 1994 as I was reading a lot of horror and suspense back then. Writers like Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, to name the heavy hitters. When I finally took a stab at writing it in earnest, it took roughly three years of stops and starts to finish it because it was difficult to slide in and out of the narrator’s disturbed mind. I felt pretty icky at times, other times I’d chuckle at my sick sense of the grotesque.

Although I finally finished it in the late 90s, I didn’t pursue getting it published until the summer of 2010 when editor/publisher Chris Bartholomew (Static Movement) put a call out for stories dealing with madness for an anthology aptly titled Madness of the MindWith a title and theme like that I knew that “Pieces of Candice” had a likely home. Thankfully, I was right, although I made some changes to certain details and updated others to bring to this current century.

Recently I decided to publish the story on Smashwords as an “e-book” so that it would exist in print as well as online and digital download. That’s the mode for modern publishing, going with multiple formats (similar to how recorded music has almost always had multiple formats).

If you’d like to step into the chilling, sociopathic mind of Jules (the narrator) for a little night reading, click on the cover image below to access the Smashwords download page. Just be sure to dissociate the art from the artist. -_^

Smashwords Update – First Week Totals:
4 = items in library (2 micros, 2 shorts)
157 = downloads/reads/samples
14 = members have linked the stories to their libraries

E-Book Publisher: 40k Books – Another Player in the Game

These folks at 40k Books hit me up on my Twitter account and are now following me. I’m guessing they found me through Smashwords. So I checked them out. One typo on the front page aside, what I’ve discovered looks pretty good. They publish only novelettes and novellas.  With that model they have published some Hugo Award and Nebula Award winning auhors, as they specialize in speculative fiction (sans fantasy). They are an international organization.

There is an interview over at Writer’s Digest: 40k Books is An E-Publisher That Specializes in Original Short Works

I like this quote from one of 40k Books’ essays: “Ever-tougher competition for eyeballs, coupled with drastic structural changes in the publishing industry – such as the rise of ebooks and the decline of traditional bookshops – means that today’s authors must adopt an entrepreneurial attitude. They need to take a leaf from the book that’s being written in the music business, where bands are building brands without the aid of record labels and similar intermediaries.”

“Writers, regrettably, are reluctant to take this responsibility. There is a widespread perception that culture and commerce are incompatible. Marketing is still erroneously associated with Yeats’s ‘greasy till’ and Orwell’s egregious ‘swill bucket’.”

Yet I am unaware of any advantage 40k Books would have over simply going rogue (i.e. the independent route) with Smashwords, but if you’re looking to push yourself beyond the short story form and go digital, you may as well explore all your options.

Of course, if you’re completely against the digtial revolution in publishing and loathe the idea of people reading your words on some silly electronic device, then completely disregard this information. 🙂

Announcement: I’ve Gone Digital @ Smashwords!

After two month after joining, I have finally published some e-books over at Smashwords. At this point it’s just a few short stories available for sampling and downloading to your e-reader of choice, or simply on the website itself.  These are just a small taste of what I do. I cover several styles and genres in my writing, so the stories I will be publishing will reflect that diversity. Later down the road I will feature longer works.

For now, there is:

Previously published in Madness of the Mind (Static Movement imprint, 2010)

Previously published in The Cedar Chest (Static Movement imprint, 2010)

Previously published in A Pint of Bloody Fiction (House of Horror, 2010)

Blogpage link previously published via Crossed Genres

The discovery of this rather empowering self-publishing platform (which was started in 2008) pretty much nixed my plans for The Rucker Files over at WordPress.  The Ruckerfiles was to be my online archive of writing works as well as a place to self-publish whatever work I wanted. I fully intended to continue the submission process to other publishing venues, but still, I want to be able to D-I-Y some works that I had no intentions of ever compromising for other editors and whatnot.

Now with Smashwords, if you know anything about the platform, the idea of The Rucker Files just seemed a little moot at this current juncture. However, there will be a place for this all-encompassing archive in the future. For now, I intend to use Smashwords for my primary self-publishing venue. If you read up on the platform, the reasons are obvious and sensible.

Much more to come throughout the year.

Update: This Weekend

Cover Design

This weekend I must prepare for the launch of my self-publishing endeavors over at Smashwords. I am going to kickoff with four short stories ranging in length from under 500 words to slightly over 5000 words. I already have a cover made up for “Shard” (see sidebar), but I have three others I need to design. Gonna need to proofread the stories again, even despite them all having been previously published in low-circulation publications.

Finish up WIPs

I’ve got a hearty handful of short stories that are 3/4s, 3/5s and 4/5s away from the finish line. If I wrap up at least two of those and get them sent off by Monday, then I’ve been a focused and rather busy bee. That means I’ll be at odds with sleep, which would be a little unfortunate as I’ve played that game all week already and it’s caught up with me. Even though I’m far from BFFs with the sandman (i.e. sleep), I do understand the importance of that particular non-active activity.

Rocking Out (i.e. songwriting)

I will also being playing some guitar, some bass…maybe the keyboard along with the drum machine to start composing some new music. Not sure what’s going to come out of me considering the variety genres I have swirling around in my head since the stuff I regularly listen to is so diverse. I haven’t seriously written any new music since the end of summer, so I’m pretty anxious to see what manifests.


– Another project this weekend is to find away to convert the DVD of a 2006 Motosota @ ORANJE show we performed into a more common and editable format. Stay tuned on that.

– I also need to record a tutorial video for a 2008 song of mine called “The New Regime” for Joshua Hooten, my old friend/guitar buddy/Dichotomous metal partner. Which reminds me that I need to learn some new guitar riffs of his as well. Should probably upload another one of our old tunes to ReverbNation+Facebook as well. Just not sure which one.

– I’ll probably update the Infamous Quotes page also.

Okay, I’m off. My guitar impatiently waits….

Two of my best friends