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If Walls Could Talk: Leveraging the Public Domain

M.H. Norris

The Public Domain is a magical place full of fun shiny things begging to be used by writers, not only enhance their stories but to give them a little grounding in the real world.

Seriously, go take a second and look at songs, books, characters, and poems that are in the pubic domain.

PublicDomain

And they aren’t the only things. One thing that I have found is technically in the Public Domain are Urban Legends. Have you ever actually gone and looked at the sheer number of myths that are out there?

As a special treat, with James’ permission of course, I’m going to give you guys a little piece of the short story I’m working on for All The Petty Myths.

“Since the beginning of time, man has told stories. When a letters came along, these were written down. Some would surpass their origins, over the years, becoming what we know to be legends. Today we call the study of those legends, mythology. Every culture has their own distinct system yet at the same time we all share a group of similar stories.”

Who’s talking—well, you’ll have to wait for the anthology to come out to find out who. But let me tell you, I’m looking forward to seeing how this story turns out.

But things come into the public domain all the time. And people don’t realize the sheer volume of things you can find. For example here, let’s look at my book Badge City: Notches. There’s a scene where I use a song that is in public domain. For me, it just added a little something extra to the scene (and honestly, it’s one of my favorite scenes that I’ve written).

Some things to note, different countries have different public domain laws so be sure to double check and make sure that what you are using is in fact in the public domain. Canada got James Bond in their public domain, this year. Meanwhile, the United States had a legal battle to affirm Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain—and there’s currently a legal war going on to prove Buck Rogers (and characters like him) are as well.

It’s easy to fact check though (and as a writer, you should be fact checking anyway). A simple Google search will point you in the right direction.

Its something I’ve enjoyed looking at and seeing what I can use to enhance and improve my scenes within my stories.

What are you going to find?

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If Walls Could Talk: Reflecting on a Year Gone By

They say Hindsight is 20/20 and in most cases that’s true. But as I sit here and feel nostalgic, I wonder if that’s always the case.

What are you feeling nostalgic about, Mary Helen? Or, more to the point, what are you talking about?

Today is the third anniversary of my first short story being published. It’s the anniversary of the first time that M. H. Norris came into print.

And what a mix of ups and downs the last three years have been.

The old website was full of post of tips and tricks I’ve learned and it’s amazing to go back and see how far I’ve come in the first three years of my writing career.

So, here’s a vague overview of things I wonder if I knew then what I know now would I have done things differently.

1) You are always learning.

I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit this, but I thought my first short story was good when it came out. Now? I’ll admit that it was a start and it gave me a chance to get my name out there. It also gave me a confidence boost and let me know that maybe my writing dreams were possible.

But, now? I would not say that it’s good. I mean, it’s not awful but I was a very young, very inexperienced writer.

Writing is a craft that you have to continuously work to improve. There are always things to learn, things you can improve on, different ways to tell a story. But that’s part of the fun.

2) Sometimes, opportunities will surprise you.

I wasn’t expecting Notches. I wasn’t looking to write a whole book. But Pro Se handed the opportunity to me and I had to take it. Sometimes, you have to be open to the opportunities around you.

After all, by taking that chance, I now have a book out. That book was in the top 30K books on Amazon it’s debut week, which is incredible.

3) Keep a bucket list handy.

I have a list of things I want to write eventually and some of those things might show up in forms I didn’t originally intend. But you never know what opportunities will come.

4) Feel free to walk away.

Sometimes, you have to be willing to walk away from a writing project. It’s hard, especially if you’ve been involved for a while. But sometimes it’s for the best.

5) Be willing to juggle.

Sometimes you are going to have several jobs that you want to do. And sometimes you’re going to have to be willing to work on various stages of different projects at the same time.

Edit one piece, write another, research a third, talk about a fourth. Sometimes I do have multiple projects going at once and to me it helps to. If I have something else I can work on, it helps writer’s block to go away.

6) Always look to the future.

Always be looking to the future. Have your BHAG (that stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and always be reaching for it.

I want to someday see the Bestseller’s List. And I plan to get there. I’ll go on the New York Times website and look at it and say “someday, I’ll be there.”

And then I go back to writing.

If Walls Could Talk: Dragon Libraries and Thanksgiving

M.H. Norris

If walls could talk this week, they’d be talking about one of three things this week. Or rather, the people around the wall would drown out whatever else it wanted to say with those three things.

First, happy 52nd birthday to Doctor Who.

Second, Thanksgiving is on all our minds. Visions of turkey and all the fixings dancing through our heads as we realize that we have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

From all of us here at 18thWall Productions, we want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. We hope that you have a fun day with family, food, friends, food–and did I mention food?

One thing we’re thankful for is actually the third thing that is occupying time at 18thWall’s watercooler. The digital release of From the Dragon Lord’s Library, curated by Nicole Petit. Out now, and available on this very site. Volume One & Volume Two are ready for your eager reading.

Did you ever wonder what a dragon keeps in his library?

You can tell a lot about a dragon by their hoard.

Not the shiny one, the other one. The one where they keep their favorite things. Some dragons keep a private stash of dwarven-wrought artifices, and others tapestries that run from wall-to-wall and corner-to-corner. The Dragon Lord himself has a library. A library that devours halls and caves, filling them with every kind of book and codex and scroll.

These are the stories that fill his favorite shelf. Of course they’re his favorites—they’re all about dragons. Pull these stories down. Breath in the vanilla scent that only comes from the oldest books. Savor the writing. Trace your fingers over the calligraphy.

Welcome to the finest library ever known.

Featuring stories by Jilly Paddock, Joanna Hoyt, Claire Davon, J. Patrick Allen, T. Fox Dunham, Dorian Graves, Denarose Fukushima, Kelly A. Harmon, E.A. Fow, Robert W. Caldwell, Jim Lee Patricia S. Bowne, Shawn Hossein Mansouri, Silas Green, Rose Taylor, Edward Ahern, Elizabeth Hopkinson, Gregg Chamberlain, Liam Hogan, Sylvia Downes, and Sue Pettit, this two part collection features the first volume for general audiences and the second volume for readers of all ages.

I’m thankful for the chance to get to come to the wall every week and give it a voice. I love the chance to get to sit down, type whatever is on my mind and hope that you enjoy it as well.

What are some things you are thankful for this Thanksgiving?

We can also be thankful for the idea of what’s to come in 2016. We’re heading into the last full month of stress and publishing and—finally—turkey. It’s a time where things are so magical (like dragons—couldn’t help that reference).

And we’re thankful for you all for coming to read our stories and for taking this journey with us.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

From the Dragon Lord’s Library: Volume 1

From the Dragon Lord’s Library: Volume 2

If Walls Could Talk: Writing Every Day

M.H. Norris

I’ve written about this topic a few times, it’s a popular one amongst writers. But NaNoWriMo is great for one thing. It allows a writer to establish a daily writing habit.

1667 words a day is a lot and if you fall behind, it can seem overwhelming to try and catch up. And Friday you can start to win at NaNoWrioMo. And people are ready to go.

Me?

I’m sitting her smiling and nodding as I creep over 30K words. I don’t plan to see 50K until the very end.

But to each their own.

I do try and write around 1000 a day of one project or another. Sometimes, short stories are a good example, I write a little less.

Steven King, if I remember right (James has my copy of On Writing so I can’t look it up), writes for a set amount of time every day. I think he’s a morning writer.

I laugh at morning writers.

James laughs at morning writers.

Once again, to each their own.

My favorite time to write is the afternoon to early evening, though it isn’t entirely unusual to find me writing late at night. Usually, you won’t catch me writing a whole lot after midnight, because, like Cinderella, the clock strikes midnight and the magic is gone.

But I do see the value of writing every day.

I see the value of writing every day especially when you have several projects that need your attention.

Somewhere along the way, I got into the habit of working on several projects at once. There are weeks where I say, “this week I’m working on this this day, that another day, and so on and so forth.”

To me, that helps me to keep myself interested. Different stories, different characters, different chances to get to tell all these different stories.

Some people will argue that that means I can’t focus on any one particular project. But to me, too much focus on one single project is a sure fire way to give myself a nasty case of writer’s block.

And then I don’t write any day.

Which it isn’t the end of the world. You need a break now and then to allow yourself to relax and refresh (not according to Steven King, who says that you should write every day, including your birthday and Christmas).

So until I make it to the bestsellers list, you might just want to listen to him instead.

The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia: Total Drama

Join us each week as we share a new excerpt from Robert E. Wronski Jr.’s book, The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia, now available in print and digital editions!

TOTAL DRAMA (ANIMATED SERIES)

Release Date: July 8, 2007 – present at time of writing (Contemporary Setting)

Series: Total Drama

The Story: A reality show recruits a group of young people to compete in challenges in an isolated location. Each season has a different themed setting, but each season sees the same celebrity wannabes returning for more drama and humiliation to recapture that 15 minutes of fame.

Notes: The cast were about 21 when the show started, and would be around 28 now. For now the show operating in real time still works for the Horror Universe concept. Another few seasons and they will be stretching the “young people” bit if they keep using the same characters.

SEASON 5 EPISODE 16 “TWINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING”

Release Date: July 8, 2014 (Contemporary Setting)

Horror Crosses: Evil Dead

The Story: The second half of season 5 is Total Drama Pahkitew Island. In this season they do have new contestants joining the cast, while they phase out the old cast. Clearly they want to keep with the concept as I said above. The setting this time is Camp Pahkitew. This episode centers around a balloon competition. Plus love and hate, loyalty and betrayal. Reality show stuff.

Notes: One of the contestants, Max, is a hopeful evil genius. He has snuck contraband into the camp, including a copy of the Necronomicon ex Mortis.

If you’re dying for more, you can find The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia on Amazon, and more of Robert E. Wronski Jr.’s work on The Television Crossover Universe.

If Walls Could Talk: A Novel in a Month

M.H. Norris

For some reason, I got it in my head a few weeks ago that doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) would be fun. It’s a good idea I said to myself, an excuse to knock out a draft of something in 30 days.

The above statement is true, it is a good excuse to knock out a draft of something. It’s also a great excuse to knock out something because you want to see if you can make it work. Having the deadline and the community of support behind you while you experiment and play and push yourself is a good idea and an invaluable tool.

National Novel Writing Month

Because NaNoWriMo is an experience I recommend and—knock on wood—so far I haven’t fallen behind.

So, in today’s edition of If Walls Could Talk I’m going to take a few minutes to take a break from my frantic attempt to make today’s word count and talk with you. Hopefully encouraging any of you readers who are embarking on this journey with me.

What is NaNoWriMo? I realized that I should take a second to introduce it in case you haven’t heard about it.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place in the month of November. It is a time where writers strive to write 50 thousand words in 30 days. If you are not in the mood to do that math right now, that equals out to about 1667 words a day.

While NaNoWriMo is fun, and I highly recommend it, it is a challenge and isn’t for the faint of heart.

This is my third time doing NaNoWrimo. If I win, it will only be my second win. And that victory was not easily won.

Day 4 so by the end of today you should have at least 6668 words if you want to be on track. If you are behind, don’t sweat it. I was behind in 2013 (the year I won) and did a come-from-behind-victory thanks to a road trip. I took advantage of being stuck in a car to catch up, get ahead, and coast over 50 thousand words.

One thing I did: I put the NaNo calendar in my Scrivener research tab so I have quick and easy access to what goal I should have for each day (it also takes away my excuse to wander to my browser tab and spend ten minutes looking it up (and then wandering to Facebook to chat with people—when you’re struggling for words, anything is much more interesting than writing.)

Stories are a precious thing. 18thWall is dedicated to finding fun and unique stories and bringing them to you. Taking the old ways of writing and bringing those styles forward.

Because there is something about a book that just takes you to a special and magical place. And as writers, we get the privilege of transporting readers to worlds that only previously existed in our heads. How cool is that?

So here’s my pep talk, finally.

Write that story that is on your mind and in your heart. I received that advice ages ago from an author I greatly admire and I wanted to make sure I passed it on to you.

And write. This is advice for myself even because I’ve struggled already this month to reach the daily word count. But each day you get to have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you make it.

So good luck fellow writers! May we all make it to the end of this crazy month together with a fresh new story upon our pages/screens.

If you need me, I’ll be frantically getting to today’s word count. See you next week!

The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia: The Federation Holmes

Join us each week as we share a new excerpt from Robert E. Wronski Jr.’s book, The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia, now available in print and digital editions!

Federation Holmes

THE FEDERATION HOLMES (NOVEL BY DANA MARTIN BATORY)

Release Date: 2001 (Setting is 2265 A.D.)

Series: Star Trek; Sherlock Holmes (see notes)

Horror Crosses: Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos

Non-Horror Crosses: Lord of the Rings; The Lost World; Indiana Jones; A.J. Raffles; The Saint; Journey to the Centre of the Earth; Pink Panther

The Story: On the Amusement Park Planet, a construct is made of Professor Moriarty from the stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The construct embraces his character so much that he leaves to embark on a life of real crime. Spock makes the logical deduction that only constructs of Holmes and Watson can stop him.

Notes: This is an anthology of interconnected stories by the same author. The premise is used to imagine Holmes in the world of Star Trek. Though Holmes is thought of here as a fictional character within the world of Star Trek, in Star Trek VI, Spock will claim Holmes as his ancestor (on his human side). It’s certainly realistic for people to confuse the worlds of fiction and reality after some time has passed. Think of all the people today who think that Lovecraftian lore is real, for instance. (It’s not, by the way.) In real life, ships and places are often named after other real places or historical figures. Thus, when writers are being clever, we get crossovers. In one of the stories, there are ships named the O.C. Marsh, the Cthulhu, the Arkham, the Sothoth, and the Alhazred, and there is a reference (curse) to the three Hells of Rlyeh. Those Lovecraftian references bring this story into the Horror Universe, though Star Trek has had other links mentioned elsewhere in this guide to connect it to the Horror Universe. Star Trek, of course, is in one of many possible alternate futures of the Horror Universe. Holmes sets up shop on Memory Alpha and finds copies of The Origin of Tree Worship (from the Lord of the Rings) and The Ladder of Life by Challenger (from The Lost World). A looter of an archaeological dig on Indiana IV is named Jones. A jewel thief is compared to Raffles and Templar (the Saint). There is an asteroid named Lidenbrock Alpha. Lidenbrock led the Journey to the Centre of the Earth. And there is a safe model P1I3N7K Panther.

If you’re dying for more, you can find The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia on Amazon, and more of Robert E. Wronski Jr.’s work on The Television Crossover Universe.

If Walls Could Talk: Can’t Talk About It

By M.H. Norris

A new site.

A new column.

A new chance to get to spend a bit of my week talking with you all about various projects that are coming your way soon. Whether it be writing, or projects I get to be playfully vague about.

I have a ton of things I will say are my favorites, like the thrill of a new project or the thrill when it starts to come to life and you finally get to see that this can and will be more than an idea.

I love getting to create, to share with you all the ideas I have and use words to create worlds and to bring ideas to life.

But often, there is one thing that is my least favorite is what I can’t talk about. The list of things I can’t talk about sometimes makes me want to make an actual list. Ask James, I’ve had to go to him a few times and ask, “can I talk about this yet?”

I get why that list exists but at times it’s frustrating.

The best example was my debut digest novel, Badge City: Notches. I couldn’t announce that it was coming out for the longest time and there were times where I wanted nothing more than to stand on the rooftop (one of the buildings at a local university has a rooftop patio that would have worked nicely) and announce to the world that I had a book out.

But I had to wait.

Oh the things we can’t talk about in this business. At the same time, the other side of the coin is that I get the privilege of knowing things first. I get the privilege of knowing things as they are developing. Then, when I get to announce them and get to see y’all’s reactions.

When James gave me a description of my new column, I told him that it was extremely vague. Since then, I realized that James is allowing me the freedom to talk about whatever I want. I’m not limited to one specific project or one specific topic. I’m allowed to have fun and talk with you all about whatever’s on my mind.

Well, whatever is on my mind that isn’t on that list…

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State of the Wall (10/24/15)

Hello, and welcome to our new website!

We’ve been working on this for many months now, planning it, coding it, and making sure everything works well. We’re proud of it. When we created the simple, WordPress site that served us for so long, we weren’t sure if 18thWall Productions would succeed. Now, thanks to all of you, we’re moving into full production.

If you’re wondering what’s coming up soon:

  • The Dragon Lord’s Library is in the final stages of pre-production and will be available shortly.
  • Nicole Petit’s novel The Dragon Lord’s Secretary and anthology Just So Stories, Hannah Lackoff’s After the World Ended, and  Michael Giere’s One Mountain at a Time are awaiting either cover production or final delivery of their covers, and will reach retailers soon after.
  • M.H. Norris’ All the Petty Myths is nearing the finish of its submission cycle; after that date, work on it will suspend until all of Norris’ specially selected authors turn in their manuscripts.
  • Those Who Live Long Forgotten and Sleep Still, Charnel Horse will soon arrive in print.
  • Ro McNulty’s Those Who Live Long Forgotten II is currently being edited.
  • We’ll soon be opening submissions for a collection of Arthurian tales, curated by Nicole Petit.
  • Next year’s schedule is filling up, and we’ll let you know all about it come January.

If you’re wondering what will be happening hereabouts, our site schedule will be as follows:

  • Monday: We’ll be sharing an exclusive entry from Robert E. Wronski Jr.’s The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia.
  • Wednesday: M.H. Norris will be bringing us a new blogpost, talking about editing, writing, production, direction, and all the things that touch on the life of a new media creator.
  • Friday: As we step into the weekend, 18thWall will bring you a cheering bit of prose to get you through that last work day. It might be an excerpt from one of our releases, a story to get you inspired as you work on one of our submissions calls, or even a musing from one of our authors.

As the blog progresses, we’ll be adding features on Tuesday and Thursday. These are in pre-production at the moment, and we’ll keep you up to date on their progress.

The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia: Hellboy: Oddest Jobs

Join us each week as we share a new excerpt from Robert E. Wronski Jr.’s book, The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia, now available in print and digital editions!

HELLBOY: ODDEST JOBS “FEET OF SCIRON” (SHORT STORY BY RHYS HUGHES)

Release Date: July 8, 2008 (Contemporary Setting)

Series: Hellboy (comics)

Horror Crosses: Carnacki the Ghost-Finder; Island of Doctor Moreau; Prince Zaleski

Non-Horror Crosses: Sherlock Holmes; Around the World in 80 Days; Engelbrecht; Journey to the Center of the Earth; Pellucidar; The Works of Philip Jose Farmer

The Story: Hellboy recruits the aid of a supernatural porn star to perform a sex act that would open a portal, allowing Hellboy to stop a planet on a collision course with Earth, which was caused by Martin Carnacki of the Carnacki Institute. Meanwhile, Abe and Liz are exploring underground tunnels.

Notes: The Carnacki Institute was founded by Thomas Carnacki. This story predates Green’s Ghost Finders series, but from a Horror Universe perspective, there’s no conflicts between this version and that version. Hellboy and his porn star ally discuss real historical figures who most people think are fictional because their biographers were too good as storytellers. The list is Carnacki, Sherlock Holmes, Phileas Fogg, Dr. Moreau, Prince Saleski, and Engelbrecht. The tunnels Abe and Liz are exploring are the same from Journey to the Center of the Earth. The tunnels lead to Pellucidar where they find Philip Jose Farmer at the 20 million mile river, placing Riverworld in Pellucidar at Earth’s core.

 

HELLBOY: ODDEST JOBS “SALAMANDER BLUES” (SHORT STORY BY BRIAN KEENE)

Release Date: July 8, 2008 (Contemporary Setting)

Series: Hellboy (comics)

Horror Crosses: Brian Keene’s Labyrinth

The Story: An adventure that takes place while Hellboy is not working for the BPRD.

Notes: Hellboy references the Black Lodge organization from Brian Keene’s interconnected works.

 

HELLBOY: ODDEST JOBS “IN CUPBOARDS AND BOOKSHELVES” (SHORT STORY BY GARY A. BRAUNBECK)

Release Date: July 8, 2008 (Setting unknown, but during the time when he is working with the BPRD)

Series: Hellboy (comics)

Horror Crosses: Gary A. Braunbeck’s Cedar Hill

The Story: Hellboy takes a case in Cedar Hill, Ohio.

Notes: Cedar Hill is the setting for several of Braunbeck’s horror novels, and this story brings that series into the Horror Universe.

If you’re dying for more, you can find The Horror Crossover Encyclopedia on Amazon, and more of Robert E. Wronski Jr.’s work on The Television Crossover Universe.