Thursday, March 31, 2011

All My Enemies*

The new title of a short story that's been kicking around in my head for a couple of years now. Man, my bedroom ceiling is just chock full of ideas.

*Teh Google tells me this is also the title of a song from someone named Dyablo. I'm in no shape to judge Dyablo's lyrics, so I will simply take the following lines as today's zen koan:


how are you goin to fuck with a dawg who packs guns
ima srtangle them bitches who is havin fun
ima cat with wild hot verses man
ima blow out my enemies and them fuckin bastards
i aint worried to push them weak skills

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I am Stephen King meets Ursula Le Guin*

A few of you may know that I self-published a book of short stories a few years ago on Lulu.com. I did a sucky job of formatting the book, so I've subsequently pulled it from print**, but just this morning I noticed that someone on Amazon actually reviewed it - and apparently really liked it. Hill Fort Rambler of Lexington Kentucky, if you're still out there, thanks very much, and sorry for the tiny-tiny print and the big white spaces on the pages.

5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen King meets Ursula Le Guin, October 27, 2009


By hill fort rambler (Lexington, KY USA) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: All the World a Grave (Paperback)

Michael McClung's no holds barred approach delivers modern day fairy tales both refreshing and highly entertaining. The protagonists, set in the most peculiar and otherwordly of scenarios, are balanced with quirks and foibles, giving them tangible depth that allows the reader to relate to the darkest of their sufferings. I read this book after perusing a rather boring New York Times bestseller, and I literally could not put this book down. If you are mesmerized by the macabre depictions by Stephen King or are drawn to the fantasy worlds of Ursula Le Guin, you will find this book a rare gem. Be prepared to have your stomach turn at times. For adults only and certainly not for the faint of heart.
Here's a pic of the cover for the morbily curious:



*According to somebody I don't even know/didn't have to pay!
**Signed copies available for one gajillion dollars. Or a taco. Very limited quantities available.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cage match: Vin vs Jon Snow

Brandon Sanderson's Vin vs George RR Martin's John Snow. Who will win this death duel? Only the fanboys know! (But my money is on Vin).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Need your input

So I'm thinking about doing an Amazon experiment and publishing my short story 'All the World a Grave' on Amazon. Say you were shopping around for a quick  horror or dark fantasy read, and saw this for 99 cents. Would it grab your attention?




Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Still not skiving: another Joo Chiat Blues excerpt

Nair didn’t call me that afternoon, or the following morning, on account of him being decapitated.


Going home on his big BMW bike, he hit a patch of oil on the Shears Bridge and went flying over the cement divider into oncoming traffic. Hit an open-sided lorry transporting plate glass. They fished his helmeted head out of the water a few hours later.

Jaimie Wee called me about seven the next morning to give me the news. I was surprised about Nair, but less so that Jaime was the one to call me about it. He was the right hand man of Singapore’s biggest, baddest underworld Tow Kay, an undead piece of shit named Ah Soon.

My handphone brought me out of the dregs of sleep. I rolled over and picked it up from the nightstand. I grunted into it.

“Sorry to wake you, William, but there’s been an unfortunate occurrence. Devin Nair was killed in a motorcycle accident last night.”

“Jaimie. Your boss order the accident?” I sat up on the edge of the bed and tried to dispel the cobwebs.

Jaimie laughed good naturedly. “Ah Soon may not be fond of lawyers, but he doesn’t generally have them killed. Especially not his own lawyer.”

“Your boss was Nair’s client.”

“And indirectly yours, yes.”

“Well tell him thanks for the five hundred, and I’ll be donating it to the Children’s Pocket Fund in his name.” I walked into the living room, lit a cigarette, trudged to the kitchen and started microwaving some powdered caffeine in water. I couldn’t bring myself to think of it in coffee terms or I wouldn’t have been able to gag it down.

“Tell him yourself. He wants to meet with you today. The sooner the better.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so, Jamie. No offense to you, but you work for the biggest scumbag in Singapore, possibly all of Southeast Asia. Plus I’m getting my nails done. I got a voucher in the mail.”

“William, there’s something you need to know. What happened to Nair was no accident, and it will happen to you next.”

“I don’t even own a motorcycle.” I watched the coffee mug go round and round inside the microwave. That Woody character from the Pixar shows was painted on the side. Got it free with two tubes of toothpaste.

“Don’t be deliberately obtuse. You will end up dead, just as Nair did.”

“And why is that, Jamie?” I turned away from the microwave to get the sugar out of the fridge. I have to keep it in the fridge. Ants.

“Because you know about the mask, and those in possession of it know about you.”

Just then the microwave made that little dink sound that means it’s done irradiating my kitchen. Then it made a big boom sound and the door flew off and through the space where my head had just been. It smashed into the wall with enough force to gouge the paint and the concrete beneath it. My back was scalded by instant coffee and lascerated by bits of ceramic Woody mug. I may have screamed.

“William? William! Are you all right?”

“Shit! That was my favourite fucking mug!”
So this morning I am sitting at the East Wind kopitiam (Vietnamese favourites!*) near my apartment, drinking my kopi c (coffee brewed in a sock with heavily sweetened condensed milk**)


Not really doing a lot of writing at this very moment (no, blog posts don't count). I am, however, doing a lot of thinking about writing, how I write,  why I write, and why I don't write. This last week has been something of a therapy session for my inner writer, I guess. Lots of things to digest.

Thagoth: The novel that has been the albatross around my neck for close to a decade. Much as I hate to admit it, the whole experience damaged me. Somewhere in my psyche it seems the notion lodged itself deep that either I was a faliure as a writer or that it didn't matter how well I wrote, because the game was rigged. Either way, I've had a hell of a hard time writing fiction for years now. It's damn hard to shake a loser mentality. It wasn't just the Thagoth experience that contributed to it; many events have happened in my life over the last few years that fed into vicious cycle of self-defeat. We'll save that for another post, though.

Acknowledgement: Over on Scalzi's blog, a simple conversation with Kat Goodwin about the state of the ebook market gave me something I didn't expect, right out of the blue:

"Yes, in 2003, you were screwed. Publishers had been burned on e-books before back in the early 1990′s. And there simply wasn’t a real set of working bookselling vendors in 2003 to sell much in e-books. (Amazon had not fully committed.) There were some companies doing some stuff, including self-publishing, so Del Rey tried the contest, but it wasn’t enough of a market then. When they decided to dump it, you should have been put into print, although that might have required a new contract, but you got “orphaned” — your editor and advocate left and the new ones didn’t want your stuff. Happens a lot; never meant that your book wasn’t worthy of an audience."


A few words from someone in the traditional publishing arena telling me things I already knew carried a psychic weight that surprised me. I told myself this stuff for years, but it made no impression. External confirmation has. It's still working through my system, honestly.

Validation: 1. Thagoth Yes, telling my facebook friends has raised sales of Thagoth, but honestly it's not the sales. The money I'll make from it isn't such a much (we're talking low three figures or high two figures unless something truly unexpected happens). What's priceless to me is that people actually cared enough to repost the link to the book and say nice things. Food for the writing soul, after years of wandering the desert. I can't thank people enough.

Validation: 2. "All the World a Grave" There were 21 stories in the anthology, and the Speculative Book Review singled out three for praise, including mine. The story that only I and Sarah Prineas believed in.

I'm a writer. I write. I can't let all the other nonsense get in the way anymore.

* Not sure if they are referring to the food or the ladies of the evening who frequent it.
** Don't you dare judge me

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My brainz. It works funny.

Lying in bed last night, staring at the ceiling, it came to me what my story-in-progress "The Rashomon Gate" "was really about. Voila, just like that, I had the ending and a big chunk of the middle fall into my lap.

Total non-spoiler tease, it's sort of a Purloined Letter of extreme proportions. Poe for the save!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Your daily dose of inspiration

She Don't like Firefly...

...so she's gone, gone, gone.



Some things you can accept about another person in a relationship, and some things you just can't.

-via Kat Goodwin's blog.

On Piñatas in Singapore

1. They are made in China
2. They are constructed with steel reinforced concrete
3. Number 2 is a lie; they are made of really thick cardboard, though
4. Number 3 means that instead of a festively decorated bat, the piñata should come with a festively decorated spear.
5. To paraphrase my friend Christien, they get wha they deserve for being filled with candy.

Love Dickens? Love The Wire?

Then you absolutely have to check this out.

"Omar comin', yo!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I miss my friend Randy Schaub. The most decent person I ever met.

Here's a post about him on Bookslut from his brother Michael, listing ten books Randy loved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Singapore calling

Last night I called Ballantine in New York because I realized it had been, oh, five years or so since I received a royalty check for Thagoth. After the initial release, sales dropped off fairly quickly, and the last check I received was for something like $25.16. Then we moved, and moved again, and I just couldn't be arsed to call long distance at midnight to talk to somebody and let them know. But of course I got to thinking about it since the Great Facebook Campaign began, and so I called.

A nice lady named Nancy is sending out my check. In the last five years or so Thagoth has earned me the handsome sum of $70-and-change. If I remember corectly, I get 50 cents or so from every copy, so that means about 150 copies have been sold in the last five years.

I'll probably sell that many copies in five days. It really is a new world for ebooks, huh?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

...with a little help from my friends

In Singapore they call it pai seh. Growing up I don't think we had an exact word to cover it, but it was the feeling of embarrassment/shame for making a mistake or imposing on someone. That's what's kept me from letting many people know I'm a published writer. When it comes up in conversation, I sort of squirm mentally. 'Aw, shucks' without the sense of false pride.

Yesterday I decided to let my facebook friends know that I had an  ebook out there, and that it was only $2.99. I asked them to pass on the link to it.

At the beginning of yesterday, THAGOTH was #397,564 on Amazon and #371,279 on Barnes & Noble.

Tonight on Amazon it's #45,093 and on B&N, #224,395.

This is for my fb friends:
Note to self.

Remain calm

Some people (okay, one person) has expressed some startlement at the recent changes on this here blog. I would just like to reassure everyone that change is good, change is natural. This is still SomethingSticky, I'm just adding the bit of my life that I've mostly left out -- the writing as profession bit.

Why haven't I really blogged about that much before? Mainly because it didn't exist much after THAGOTH got published. Depression, life change, fatherhood, life in general, including a serious bout of writer's block.

But, knock wood, I've got the old tingle back. Writing is happening around here, perhaps at a slower pace than previously, but steadily. And I still consider myself a writer, after everything that has happened. Self-identification is a powerful force.

So this blog should also reflect and reinforce that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Amanda Hocking is one of my tribe

Now don't get me wrong. It's unlikely I will ever read any of her work. Paranormal romance makes my eyes bleed. Literally. I have a doctor's note. But Amanda Hocking is one of my tribe, nonetheless.

You go, girl.

Thanks for inspiring me to believe in and promote my own work.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

more proof I haven't been skiving

This is the first bit of a short story (unrelated to the WL King stuff) I'm working on. Funny thing is, I saw a call for 'monk punk' short stories, but the deadline had passed. I wanted to write it anyway. The original Rashomon story has always kind of haunted me, as has the Kurosawa film which had very little to do with the short story. Anyway, if Kurosawa can steal for inspiration, so can I.



The Rashomon Gate

In those days the Capital was in a sad state of affairs. Famine and flood, fire and whirlwind had each made their appearance over the years, one disaster leading on to the next in a chain of misery. Nearly everything, it seemed, was in disrepair, including the Rashomon Gate. All manner of wild things had crept in over the years and made their home in the dilapidated structure; foxes, badgers, robbers. And other things.

You may have heard that people would bring unclaimed bodies there to dump, and this is true. Furtive figures would mount the wide red staircase that led to the tower atop the gate, dragging their burdens, sometimes perhaps with a sketchy sort of respect, sometimes just performing distasteful chore, according to their own natures and the natures of the departed. And then they would depart, and the crows would descend from their perches on the ridge poles and the once-bright shibi that graced their tips.

Rashomon Gate was not a place one would want to hang about in the daylight, much less in the night. It would have been a curious sight, therefore, had anyone been watching, to see the wizened monk who came to the gate one midnight in summer.

He came up Suzaku Boulevard at a deliberate if staggering pace, strong legs tethered to age-twisted hips. His staff was more than an accoutrement. His robes, once a sober black, were faded and dusty from the road. It had rained fiercely the week before, flattening crops; the past five days, however, had seen a sun intent on desiccating the land.

The monk stopped there beneath the gate, scratched an armpit, hawked and spat. “No help for it,” he muttered, and began the painful climb up the red stairs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just to prove I haven't been skiving

Here's a snippet of the work in progress:

"This looks different from the other works," I said, and started, finding the woman suddenly standing close enough to whisper in my ear. You know, or stick a knife in it.

"Ah, yes," she said, not acknowledging my startlement or what had caused it. Her attention was on the mask in front of us. "An earlier work. Part of a series of eight."

"Where are the others?"

"Lost," she said, perfectly made up lips giving the ghost of a frown, "during the Cultural Revolution."

I let the silence build till it became uncomfortable, which took about three seconds. "What is it, anyway?"

"A death mask."

"I didn't know the Chinese were into death masks."

She shrugged, a minimal gesture. Like everything about her, it seemed. "Artists draw from many sources, many cultures. Insipration is where you find it."

"So who's this a mask of?"

"Unknown."

"Nobody ever asked this Deng guy?"

"If they did, there is no record of it."

"No record?"

"Deng Jian Rong shot himself in the head in 1987."

That uncomfortable silence again. This place needed Muzak. "Artists. Unstable types I guess."

She smiled politely in reply and made a card appear in her hand. Holding it out to me, she said "I'm afraid we're closing up now. Do please call on us another time, Mister King."

Shit, I thought, palms suddenly sweaty. How did she know my name?

A review

So the Speculative Book Review had some nice things to say about the story I had in the Flesh and Bone anthology. I think I like them.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

for my children

high walls and a blue sky above
the wind shakes the trees, leaves fall,
skirl down around me
an imitation of autumns I have known-
that, in this place, you will never come to know

and the faces I have known
surround me, and some are gone
for good; some I will love for good,
for good or ill. Yours I will love for good
and all.

should you wonder about me, you should know
some part of my heart I set in a high place
to keep it clean of the muck,
long, long before you came along
but now I think I made a mistake-

I love you, I love you, with all my heart
though with these two hands I tore it apart;
I love you on the rise, but you must trust
I also love you on the fall.