Tag Archives: writing

Brian Barr Storyteller Showcase: professional story

I’ve always loved telling stories and writing since I was a kid. I would share ghost stories with my cousins and friends, write comics on lined paper, jot short stories, etc. I had a love for reading and fiction for as long as I can remember.

The first time I got interested in publishing or releasing my own work was when I saw my friend Matt Rowe releasing his own Xeroxed zines in a DIY punk fashion. I was impressed by Matt’s creativity in writing articles and poetry, and doing art; it awakened a need in me to create and put out my own work. At the time, I learned about different avenues, but it would be a while before I actually pursued serious publishing.

My books started to get published around 2014/2015. Carolina Daemonic was my first novel, released by J. Ellington Ashton Press, and I published Empress with Chuck Amadori through Comixology first. I published short stories, mostly horror, through a few small presses before my friend Jeff O’Brien got me into publishing stories on my own. I still publish with small presses and publishers, but I also like to release my own work. I mostly marketed on Facebook, where I was shocked to see so many writers, artists, and comic creators, and fans of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. I also did a little local promotion, and El Burrito, my favorite restaurant which is no longer in business, sported posters of my work and helped sell my book. I did a local showcase at Richland Library, and also collaborated with a bunch of local authors for a Make Your Own Adventure book the library hosted.

Doing Empress with Chuck Amadori has been a great learning experience for me. Chuck taught me how to write comics to the point, and how to best outline my scripts without clutter. We worked with the artist Marcelo Salaza and the colorist Matheus Bronca, who are amazing, and currently we work with artists Sullivan Suad, Zilson Costa, and Geraldo Filho. Matheus still colors a number of our covers and helps with flats, I believe. Without them, our comic would not exist.

I’ve learned that in order to be more successful, specifically in the areas you care about, you have to be true to yourself and connect to the right people. Not all audiences will appreciate your work, so you have to find the right audiences for what you like to do. You also have to engage with them, and be a fan yourself, loving, sharing, and appreciating their work genuinely. You can do this if you really care about what you do and the people you network with, and it comes to a great advantage without effort. I’ve also learned to know when an audience or direction doesn’t work and to keep moving.

My brain-saving technique is to listen to my brain when I’m writing. Basically, if I feel drained and uninspired, it’s time to rest. When I’m in the flow, it’s time to write down every idea that comes to me, to store it, and to get in the zone as I write. Just let it all come out, then revise and revise until I’m ready to send it to an editor and release a story as a finished project. But there are times when I need to recharge and it doesn’t help to push at that point. Sleep gives me the recharge I need.

The Secret Life of Mrs. London

Charmian London took care of Jack London, typing as he dictated, editing his work, catering to his need for constant attention from “the crowd,” and picking up the pieces of his alcoholic binges. Products of their time, the Londons settled into a routine where Charmian sacrificed her life to Jack’s success, much as her friend Bessie Houdini did for her husband. Although Jack’s dalliances are often referenced, Charmian and Houdini’s affair is only hinted at throughout the story, before being stated outright only after Jack’s death.

Small contradictions in this book had me going back for clarity so many times that I stopped keeping track of them, accepting them as a minor annoyance of the writing. The story begins well after the London’s greatest adventures, a shame, since they’re referred to so much that I really wanted to read about them. I know this is considered historical fiction, but I researched as I read, and everything I found agreed with Rosenberg’s version, including Bessie’s condition, which prevented her having children.

The writing didn’t flow well for me, as I was more interested in things other than all the titillating details of adultery. Near the end, two events stood out that distracted me from the story. When Houdini tends to Charmian after she’s drenched in the rain, he “lifts” her magically from the bed. We all know the floating woman is a trick, so this seemed superfluously silly in this scene. Later, after Bessie acknowledges the affair of her husband and best friend, grants her acceptance of it to Charmian, and shows her friend her secret room of dolls, she passes out and stops breathing. Charmian brings her back to life by calling her name and touching her face. Although the book was nearly over, I almost stopped reading here.

I received this book through NetGalley for an honest review. I enjoyed reading about Charmian London, but the secret life of her affair with Houdini was more melodramatic than intriguing. Still, it was interesting to learn more about the Londons and the Houdinis in general, and it sparked my interest enough to do a bit more research as I read.