Archive for the ‘ideas’ Category

Robert Johnson’s studio portrait, one of the few verified photos of him.

I come across the most fascinating subjects sometimes, and when I do, I just have to learn as much as I can about them. Especially if I think I can write a story around them. Robert Johnson is one of those subjects. And if you haven’t heard of him before, that’s a damn shame. Because guess what? Robert Johnson may be the most enigmatic figure in American music history, as well as blues history.

So if you haven’t heard of Robert Johnson, let me give you the quick summary: Robert Johnson was a blues singer who traveled around the American South during the Great Depression. He recorded several songs and two albums in the two years before he died in 1938 in obscurity. However, he made a comeback in the 1960s, influencing musicians like Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones.

There is very little knowledge about him as a person. Very few photos of Johnson exist, and everything we do know is from scant records and recollections. No one’s sure how he died, they just know that he did at the young age of 27 (my age at the moment, BTW). All this has led to a huge amount of speculation and mythology around the man. The most famous myth is that Johnson sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads for talent.

If you’re paying attention this far down and you know me well, you can guess this was why I showed interest in Johnson in the first place.

But let me tell you, the Crossroads myth, as it’s known, only scratches the surface of this mysterious man. I’ve listened to all his music several times (which, by the way, is excellent), watched one biographical video on him, listened to one audio book biography about him and am in the middle of another (also on audio), and watched the movie Crossroads which heavily references Johnson and his legend (it was a lot better than I thought it would be). I’ve been down the rabbit hole on Johnson, and there’s so much more to him than just a myth about the Devil.

If you’ve ever wondered where the crossroads myth in Supernatural is from, Robert Johnson’s legend is an influence.

Robert Johnson was a man whose life was defined by music and impermanence. He was playing from a young age, and traveled all over the United States, and maybe even to Canada. He invented new guitar practices, some of which are still used by artists today. His relationships were often short and fleeting, and even the people closest to him, except maybe his family, weren’t entirely sure who he was. He was such an enigma, his death wasn’t officially confirmed until thirty years after the fact, when his death certificate was found by a researcher. His cause of death is listed as “Unknown Causes.” Even his gravesite is in dispute.

All this and more, from the legends around Johnson, to how he became the influence he is today, and of course his music, make him someone I want to learn more about.

And did I mention his music is wonderful? Because it is. I can put it on in the background and just zone out while I cook or work or write. Yeah, it has an older sound, but there’s something about Johnson’s playing and voice that stick with you, gets into your soul.

And I’ll keep listening to him and researching him for a while yet. I’m still learning what I can about him, and I haven’t figured out what sort of story I want to write around Johnson. I don’t want to write about the Crossroads myth, because that’s been done to death. I was going to do something set in the Cthulhu Mythos, but as much fun as playing in that sandbox is, I want to do more than play with someone else’s toys.

Well, I’m sure I’ll come up with something. May be today, may be next year, but I’ll come up with something. And in the meantime, I’ll keep writing and listening to Robert Johnson’s small but beautiful discography.

And if this makes you want to listen to and/or learn more about Johnson, I recommend the Centennial Collection, which contains the clearest sound of Johnson’s music. I also recommend Crossroads by Tom Graves and Up Jumped the Devil by Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow if you want in-depth biography on him. But first, you should listen to probably Johnson’s most famous song, as well as one of the songs that feeds the Crossroads myth, “Cross Road Blues:”

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope this made you interested in learning more on Johnson. Now, if you need me, I’ll be working on Toyland while watching a debate (Evil Dead original vs. remake. It’s going to get bloody).

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

I’ve mentioned on this blog more than a few times that I make sure to write down my ideas on Word documents. This way I don’t forget them. I have a few separate lists to store these ideas, depending on the kind of idea it is. One list is just for ideas that will likely be short stories or novelettes (assuming they don’t end up evolving into something longer). And today, I had three new ideas for stories, which I made sure to put on that list. This brings that list up to a thousand ideas.

You read that right. A thousand ideas. Some good, some bad. Some are very short, and others will end up longer than most novelettes. Some are horror or dark fantasy, others are science fiction or regular fantasy, or some other form of speculative fiction. A few are erotica, because as I said in that video yesterday, I think there’s an art to writing a story where the story is told through sex. It’s something I might want to try someday.

I’m not stating this to brag. I’m just stating a fact. And you know what? I’ll never write most of them. There’s just never enough time.

It’s the sad truth of writing. We creatives have many ideas over the course of our lives. But rarely, especially in the world of writing fiction, do we get to tell all of them. Hell, I doubt even big names authors like King get to work on all the ideas he has. But it’s especially hard for those of us smaller names. We work day jobs, pay bills, run errands, eat, socialize, try to stay healthy, and try to sleep enough to function the next day. And in-between all that, we carve out time to write.

I said a lot of this when I had my five-hundredth idea, almost exactly five years ago today (what a coincidence). In fact, I’ll say again what I said in that post (which you can click here to read): Time’s a quick bastard. And it’s all we can do to keep it with us so we can get the best of your work down on paper. And maybe then edited and perhaps even published.

There’s enough time in the day for this.

And how can you tell from the trove of your ideas which ones are worth spending time on? Hard to say. Usually I can tell from the idea phase, but occasionally I write a first draft and I realize this story is crap, why did I ever try to write it? I guess the best thing to do is just to go with your gut. If you’re really passionate about a story, it’ll show in the writing and in the story, and you’ll be able to work on it over and over again, until you’re able to share it with others (hopefully, anyway).

Well, I’m going to get back to an idea I think might be worth working on. I just wanted to talk about some of the things that went through my mind as I started nearing a thousand ideas. And I wanted to talk about something other than Rose for once.

Speaking of which, tomorrow is the last day to buy the ebook version of Rose at a discount price (I couldn’t help myself). So if you want to check out the Kafkaesque fantasy-horror story of a young woman turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems), now’s a good time to do so. I’ll include the links below, including for the paperback and audio book. And if you end up checking out the book, leave a review and let me know what you thought of it. Helps me out in the long run, and it’s nice to hear what you think.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Recently, I saw a couple of people on my social media mention that they’re writing stories taking place at the tail end of or during the COVID-19 pandemic. You know, the pandemic we’re dealing with now and which we’re still far from out of the woods of? This intrigued me, especially when I realized I could incorporate the pandemic into one of the stories I wanted to work on this year, if I set it after the pandemic was over!

Out of curiosity, I consulted my writer friends on if you can write such a story. And if so, how you go about doing it. Nearly everyone said that yes, you can write a story set after our current crisis. A few even had advice to give me, while at the same time warning me that there’s going to be “a glut of COVID-19 stories” and I should be careful what I put out. One person mentioned that I should market the story as science fiction, seeing as it will take place in the future. Another suggested that I keep the story for a while, at least until the pandemic is actually over. That way, I can edit it if I get my predictions on what will happen wrong.

The best advice, I think, was that a good author will take notes. Remember when certain things happen, look up those things if you can’t, and try to note details that might come in handy in building the world.

As to other practical advice, I guess you should just write a story that you would write.

Yeah, I got nothing else. Sorry, but I’ve only written one story that takes place during the early days of the pandemic, and I’ve never written a story that takes place after the pandemic. I’m going to try with my next story, which obviously means I’m not going to post advice before I do.

So, I’ll be doing what every writer should do: writing the stories only they can write. I think I have a unique view on a certain aspect of our current pandemic and how it can translate into a short horror story. I’m working on an outline, and afterwards, I’ll work on that story. I’m not sure if it’ll be any good, but at least I’ll have tried. And given how stressful our current day and age is, it might prove therapeutic.

Write the story you’re going to write. Even if it takes place after the pandemic.

In summary, if you have an idea of a story that takes place after the COVID-19 pandemic, feel free to write and explore it. It’ll take some work, and you may have to change some things depending on how events play out, but only you can write this story. Might as well try it for that reason alone.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Remember, the one-year publishing anniversary of Rose is coming up, and you have the opportunity to submit questions for a YouTube Q&A. Just send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com with your name, where you’re from, and up to two questions before noon on June 17th, and they may appear in the video. Not only that, but anyone who submits from the US and UK may be eligible for a download code for the Rose audio book.

In the meantime, I’ve got dinner to make and evening plans to get to. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

17th century engraving of a bicorn and chichevache, courtesy of Wikipedia.

You ever come across something in your day-to-day life–a historical event, a movie with an interesting premise or character, a conversation that goes into weird tangents, etc.–and you think to yourself, “I want to write a story around that!” Chances are you have. And chances are you’ve sometimes struggled just to come up with that story based on whatever you’ve run into.

That happens to me all the time. I’ve got a huge list of potential bases for stories–my “idea fragments”–on my flash drive, over two-hundred bases, and only about half of them have been turned into ideas. I’ve been known to obsess over these fragments for weeks or months until I come up with something for them. And I’m obsessing over my most recent fragment quite a lot these days: the bicorn and chichevache.

Now, for those of you who don’t know much about obscure monsters from the Middle Ages (pretty much everyone), the bicorn and the chichevache are kind of the polar opposites of unicorns (the names of all three, by the way, are French in origin). They both have two horns, and are sometimes described as cow-like chimeras, though more recent depictions tend to show them as horses with two horns curved like a bull’s. The difference between the two is what they eat (and keep in mind, these creatures normally featured in satirical works. So remember, someone or their attitudes were being made fun of with these descriptions). Bicorns ate kind and devoted husbands and were often depicted as fat to the point of obese, while chichevaches went after virtuous and obedient wives and were therefore thin and starving.

Remember, this was probably meant to poke fun of someone. I’m guessing medieval views of men vs. women. This also goes against the depiction of the unicorn, a one-horned horse or goat that affirms purity, usually by letting a virtuous maiden pet or ride them. You know, instead of destroying them by eating them.

I first came across the bicorn in an anime I was watching, and was curious enough to do a little research. Thus I came across the bicorn’s counterpart, the chichevache, and then the creative fires were lit. This was back in October. And I still can’t think of a damn story for the creatures!

So far I’ve cast aside revenge stories, a story where someone uses to prove that certain people in their community aren’t as upstanding as they thought, and a few others. I’ve tweaked the myth a bit here and there to make the creatures more viable in the 21st century, and I’ve focused on just one or the other. Nothing’s clicked so far. They don’t feel original enough, or fun enough, or like the sort of story I would write. I want a story that is different from the other stuff out there. If it feels too much like another story, what’s the point of writing it in the first place?

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to come up with the story, and I’m stubborn enough to keep at it till something sticks. Immersing myself in a book or TV show or audio book; working on Toyland (or, if I need a break from that, a short story idea I have in reserve); doing some other activity; or just enjoying life. Just living my life, I come across new things everyday. Perhaps something will cross my path and make my idea fragment into a full story idea. Preferably before someone else writes a story about the creatures and makes any of my ideas pointless, that is.

In the meantime, what do you do when you can’t come up with a story for an idea fragment? And have you heard of the bicorn and the chichevache before?

And while you’re still here, are you still looking for something for the lover of the macabre and the weird in your life this holiday season? If yes, might I recommend my very own novel, Rose? When Rose Taggert wakes up in a greenhouse with no memory of how she got there, she soon finds her life, and her body, irrevocably changed. Thus begins a Kafkaesque nightmare of intrigue, magic and violence as Rose fights not just for the truth, but for her own survival. Available now in ebook and paperback from Amazon (and soon to be available from Audible in audiobook form). Links are below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’ll happen after Rose comes out. Specifically, what sort of stories I’ll work on once I’m done with Rose.

I know that’s a crazy thing to think about at this point. I’m still doing revisions on Rose for the publisher, and likely they’ll have me do more revisions before we get to publication, and then there’s the publication, and then a whole ton of marketing and other work just to make sure the book is read and sold and reviewed and whatnot. Thinking about future projects should be the last thing on my mind.

But of course, being “logical” has never been one of my strong suits, and dreaming about the future has been what’s helped me get to this point anyway. So why not wax on about what might happen after Rose?

Well, there are a number of short stories I’ve been thinking about working on. I very much want to edit Hannah, the ghost story I wrote back in January, and I want to write a few stories that have been circulating in my head for a while. I also want to eventually get back to the novelette I was working on that was giving me so many challenges, and see if I can get a bit further in that, if not finish it up entirely. It may end up becoming one of those stories where I revisit it every now and then to see if time has given me a clearer vision of how to improve and/or finish it (I’ve got a few of those). And I’d like a few months to spend on all of those, just to see what I can come up with, and if any of it is publishable.

And of course, I’ve been thinking about what sort of novel I’d like to write next, when I’m ready to write a novel. Probably, that won’t be immediately: Rose has challenged me in ways I’ve never been challenged by a story, and I want some time to refresh my mind before I make a commitment to a project that I could end up working on for years and years. But I have some ideas on what sort of novel I’d like to write next, when I am ready to make that sort of commitment.

For one thing, it won’t be a sequel to Rose. I could write one, and I have ideas I could develop into a sequel for Rose, but I don’t want to return to the world of Rose just yet. Especially when I can’t guarantee I can make the story better or on par with the original so soon after finishing the original.

For another, I’m not yet ready to return to the world of Reborn City. Yeah, I know there are a couple of big fans of that trilogy who want the final book, Full Circle, already (I know a few of you are probably out there), but I’m just not ready to get back to that yet.

And finally, I want to do something that’s different. Think of it like houses: I don’t want to try selling Castrum on a house that’s basically the same one they bought, just on a different block and with a different coat of paint. I want to sell them a house that’s just as good as the first one, but an entirely different design, while still retaining the Rami Ungar architecture (is this metaphor getting too weird/complicated, or does it still work?).

All these books are different from one another. I want to do the same with my books as well.

I mean, look at Stephen King: he followed Carrie (a psychic girl who gets revenge on her psychotic religious mother and the bullies at her high school) with Salem’s Lot (vampires invade a small Maine town, and a writer and his allies have to stop them), and then went on to write The Shining (a family that includes a psychic four-year-old becomes the winter caretakers at an isolated hotel haunted by something dark and evil) before creating The Stand (a super-disease causes most of Earth’s population to die off, leaving the survivors to engage in an apocalyptic war between the forces of good and evil). None of those are carbon copies of the other, so I want to do something very distinct from Rose.

And I have a few novels I can choose from. I have more ideas than I know what to do with, so I have plenty of options, but there are a few stories I can think of that would make great projects. There’s one in particular I’d like to work on when the time comes, but it’ll depend on a number of factors, including if I have to pitch something to the publisher (I’m not sure if that’s something I have to do, but it’s something I’ve thought about).

Still, there’s plenty of time to think about all that. I just know that when the time does come to think about all that, I’ll have plenty of ideas to work with and consider. Hopefully whatever I choose, it’ll make for some good reading.

In the meantime, I’m off to work on Rose for a little bit. Here’s hoping I can make some good progress before I have to hit the hay tonight. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

first-day-first-paragraph-tag

It’s time for another tag. Only this time, I’m the one who created it! Mwa ha ha ha!

And sorry if the graphic is kind of basic. First time using Canva.com (which I think I’ll use in the future for other projects).

So as many of you know, I had to stop doing #FirstLineFriday on a weekly basis because I needed to spend more time writing. Still, I liked doing #FirstLineFriday, and I think a lot of you enjoyed it too (I certainly never got any comments or messages from anyone saying that they hated my #FirstLineFriday posts). So I decided to create a tag that I could do on a less frequent basis, but does something similar to #FirstLineFriday. Hence the creation of the “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag.*

Now that that explanation is out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty details. Here are the rules. Once tagged for “First Day, First Paragraph,” you must:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.
  2. Use the graphic above
  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
  6. Ask your readers for feedback.
  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

Rules 1 and 2 are done. I’m not going to link back to me or thank me, because that’s weird. And I just did number 4, so now onto number 5. As it’s October, and that means Halloween, I’m going to do a potential opening for a story idea I have that takes place around Halloween. Anyway, enjoy:

Lanie sat in her chair, feeling like a piece of shit. It was over. Everything was over. She had had one last shot, one last chance to prove herself as an actress before the money ran out and she had to pack it up and head back home. Why couldn’t she have held it together? She had been so confident coming in, knew every line from the audition script by heart (most of it raunchy jokes and puns revolving around shoes and feet), as well as how to say each line to deliver the most punch. And she had totally fucked it up. Now she had no chance of getting the stupid part!

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And now to tag someone to continue the tag. I had two people I wanted to be my first victim tag. In the end, I chose to do one person this month and the other next month, because the first person usually loves doing tags. So, Kat Impossible, you’ve been tagged! You have to do the “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag on November 1st. Have fun! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll have a Reflections post later this month, most likely, so keep an eye out for it. Until then, as always, I’ll update you if anything needs updating. Have a great October, my Followers of Fear! I know I plan to.

*This is actually the second tag I’ve created. The first, The Black Dragon Award, was back in 2013. Sadly, I don’t think it got very far after the first few nominations. Perhaps someday I’ll have to try to resurrect it. You never know. It could go much farther this time.

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! And since I’m reducing the number of posts I put out each month starting in September (see reasons why here), this’ll be the second to last #FirstLineFriday I do for a while.

Let that one sink in for a moment.

Alright, so if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me break it down for you. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on your blog entitled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential work, a work in progress, or a completed or published work.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback, and see if you can get them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

I had a lot of trouble figuring out which story to do this week. I ended up picking a story idea I’ve done before, but that I wanted to do a variation on and see if I could get a better response. Anyway, enjoy:

My earliest memory of them is from when I was still in the crib. I know, I’m not supposed to remember anything from that age, but I remember this, and I have no reason to believe that the memory is false or something I created on my own.

Thoughts? Critiques? Let’s discuss in the comments below?

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday on your own blog? It’s fun, easy, and for writers it’s great practice on openings.

That’s all for now. I’ve got work and then a busy weekend, so I’m going to get right on it. Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

Now, if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me explain it to you. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on your blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published work.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and then try to get them to do #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

This week, I’m doing the beginning of a short story idea I had earlier this week, one that I think will be a ton of fun to write if I ever get around to it. It’s got a bit of Lovecraft in it, a bit of Five Night’s at Freddy’s, and a whole lot of Rami Ungar in it. Oh, plus a dash of Halloween, which I actually celebrate year round. Anyway, enjoy:

“No way,” said Jemma, her flashlight roving over the abandoned arcade and all the games left behind. “They just left all this shit here?”

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss.

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday on your own blog? It’s fun, easy, and great practice for writers. In fact, I think I’ll tag someone. Let’s see…I choose Lorraine Ambers. Congrats, Lorraine. You either have to do #FirstLineFriday this week or next. Good luck and have fun with it!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have a big announcement to make soon, so I’ll try to get that out by Tuesday. In the meantime, I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you soon.

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

Now if you’re unfamiliar with what #FirstLineFriday is, let me break it down for you. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on your blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story in progress, or a completed or published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback, and try to get them to do #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

As you’re well aware, I’ve been having a multitude of ideas of late, and this week’s entry is from one of those ideas, a novel that deals primarily with our idealized selves versus reality, and the side effects of being what is considered “perfect.” Enjoy:

Rochelle drove her aging Chevy down the dingy LA streets, the night clear and hot as hell as she pulled up to an intersection. I’ve gotta get out of this life, she thought as a man hobbled across the street despite the light being against him, before I get eaten by it.

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And while we’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday yourself? It’s easy, and a ton of fun. And it’s great practice for openings. Try it. You never know if you might enjoy it.

In the meantime, how about entering a giveaway for a free book by yours truly? Enter the contest by clicking here, and see what you can win!

That’s all for now. I’ve got editing this weekend, and at some point I’ll go see Suicide Squad with my sister (I hope it’s good, because DC needs something halfway decent to most audiences). See you around, my Followers of Fear.

 

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

So if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me explain. On Fridays, you:

  • Create a post on your blog entitled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  • Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  • Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published work.
  • Ask your readers for feedback, and urge them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

This week’s entry is from a story I had earlier this week. As usual, it’s creepy and weird, which is standard Rami Ungar. Anyway, enjoy:

The locals say that the hospital, which was built about forty miles from where the government tested a couple nuclear bombs, absorbed some radiation in its bricks during construction, and that’s why so many horrible things happened in the children’s ward. My daddy disagreed; he said that evil got root in there, and then the evil festered.

Ooo-ooo-ooo!

So what did you guys think? Pretty catchy? Scary? Any errors? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday on your own blog? It’s eas, it’s fun, and for authors it’s great practice working with different openings. I’m not going to tag anyone this week (unless you want to do this, so consider yourself tagged). Hey, occasionally I need occasionally I need a break from looking through my list of followers and seeing who I haven’t tortured yet.

And if you haven’t heard already, my five year blogging anniversary is coming up, so click here to learn about how you can participate in a Q&A with yours truly, and enter for a chance to get an autographed copy of one of my books. Trust me, you do not want to miss out on that.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to try to get a ton of editing and whatnot done this weekend. And if you want to ask me any questions for my five-year blogging anniversary on August 2nd, click here for details on that.

Have a good weekend, everybody.