I was looking over some of the previous posts and noticed there was only one update in 2016 and 2017 each. In these posts, I even mention the rarity of an update; but after actually looking at some of the dates, it makes me realize how much time has gone between delivering news. Hopefully there will be more posts in 2018; however, it’s important to me to never cry wolf. The idea of posting just for the sake of it is a real turn off for me. It actually takes the fun out of sharing news on my writing. So, please know that, even though I don’t post very often, I’m always working; and make special note that when I do post something, it’s for good reason, and not done just for the sake of it.
The big news right now is, after coming to terms with it for several months, the release of The Fall of Peacetime will be postponed from Fall 2018 to Fall 2019. The next several months will be dedicated to revisions, but it’s gone from 150,000 to 170,000 words. This is almost the length of my last two releases (Jill and A Book About a Film) combined, so my premiere estimation was a bit off, since Fall of Peacetime is bigger than anything I’ve written to date. They say, “Good things come to those who wait”, and I’ve noticed the story getting better and better the more I work on it; so the longer it takes, the more confidence I have with this book’s quality.
To hold you over, I really recommend you read some Jack Ketchum. If my writing has interested you enough to visit CWSchultz.com, I can’t imagine how taken you’ll be with Ketchum’s work. Sadly, Ketchum died this week. It’s always hard to lose someone who has played a role in your craft, but it’s salt-in-the-wound when they pass away on your birthday, as Ketchum did. While I may not have known his bibliography backwards, my second novel The Pack and many of my short stories would not have existed without such influences as Peaceable Kingdom and The Girl Next Door. To me, there’s no bigger thanks to a writer than to recommend his/her work to someone else. I hope when my time comes, someone else out there will think highly enough of my books to do the same.
For starters, I’m not one for nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, I get that same warm feeling everyone else does when encountering a movie, song or show from my childhood (Hulu has Doug, by the way). But when it comes to my creative process, I never look back.
I had considered doing a second edition of Yeval, for its tenth year anniversary, but realized it’s just not in me to do something like that. When writing Yeval, I did the same thing as all my other books; I dedicated myself fully to the project… until publication. Aside from the promotional phase, I completely release myself from the book after publishing. I never wallow in my work after it’s been shared with the world. It’s not that I’m tired of it; it’s the painful obsession of wanting to make revisions over and over. My work would never be published if I gave into this urge. There are always minor tweaks you want to make. Before you know it, it could end up being a completely different story. So, to go back after ten years and do a second edition of Yeval would surely result in me making changes. Then, I’d set myself up for a twentieth anniversary edition, thirtieth, fortieth, fiftieth… it’d never end. Maybe some writers are interested in doing this; perhaps it breathes new life into their work. For me, I have no interest.
In saying that, it’s actually not unusual for me to go back and reference excerpts for my portfolio, and when I go back to Yeval, there’s something special about it. I’m sure some people will say, “If you obsess over your work while you’re writing it, why are there grammar errors on page X and again on page Y, and how did you miss the one on page Z?” When it comes to grammar, no writer, regardless of how renowned they are, is free of making mistakes. That’s why there are proofreaders. Even the big publishing houses, with several eyes on one book, still get the occasional error printed. So, I don’t think of grammar as the make-or-break of a book for me. My focus has always been the story, and it always will be. When given the opportunity, I try to adopt the label of “storyteller” over “author” or “writer” because I think the latter two evoke the idea of being a walking talking dictionary and thesaurus. If that’s what a writer is supposed to be, count me out.
There are times where I think it’s necessary to explain myself, but a good majority of the time, I believe my work speaks for itself. Yeval is a great example of this, whether we’re talking about my intentions, creative decisions or grammar errors. Going back and skimming through for good excerpts, I often find myself satisfied by its rawness. There’s no hint of pressure or influence about it. This book was truly indie. I let no criticism hold me back from what I felt was necessary for the story. When it came out in July 2007, my instinct was to be ready to explain myself. As time went on, I matured to the philosophy that if I didn’t put it in the book, then explaining it wasn’t necessary. Every time I go back and flip through the book, I’m afraid I might find something that I wish I would’ve done differently or explained a little better. But I didn’t. When I revisit the random paragraphs or pages (and, rarely, entire chapters) once or twice a year, I remember exactly why I did what I did. For all the life lessons I’ve learned in the last ten years, and all the maturity I’ve done as a writer, I’m very happy that I can go back to my very first book and still confidently stand behind it. Take a guy like Bill Maher, who says he can’t even bring himself to watch his old standup because he thinks it’s so bad and he’s come such a long way. I don’t have that feeling with Yeval.
I guess this means, even ten years gone, I’m still proud of Yeval.
So, that’s about as nostalgic as I’ll ever get. Like I said, I always look forward. In looking forward, I’m gonna throw out some news of what I’ve been working on for the last year because, who knows, it could take another nine months for an update.
In my last post, I mentioned I had moved to the other side of the city. A change in habitat is a big deal for me. I also lost a loved one back in October 2016. With all the adjustments, ups-and-downs, smiles-and-frowns… the chaos of life really influences the writing process. So, I’ve been hard at work with a fifth novel. It’s called The Fall of Peacetime, it’ll be about 150,000 words (my longest work yet) and will likely be released in 2018. The title is a double entendre, so I think an autumn release will be the best move. Even though it’s a medieval fantasy novel (a genre that I’ve personally always loved and respected), the direction I’m taking the story will go hand-in-hand with other horror sub-genres I’ve written about, like: cults, inner-demons and serial killers. Like any artist who wants their craft to grow, I wrote this book intending to appeal to readers of my other books while also broadening my horizons to find a new audience. I think both crowds will be in for a surprise.
It’s been over 10 months since a website update. I think that’s the longest www.cwschultz.com has gone since its launch back in October 2011. Oh, that’s another thing, Happy 5 Years to the website! If all continues to go well, I look forward to another five years with updates on a more frequent basis.
While the updates have been scarce lately, this shouldn’t imply that I haven’t been hard at work. Sure, there’s been a few distractions. Mainly, Snowpuff, the Wife and I have gone from renting an overpriced 650 square foot apartment in the University District to practically stealing (though we legally bought it) the perfect home in West Seattle. And yes, this is great news, but those of you who’ve spent a lot of time in both the University District and West Seattle will understand that it is necessary to just take some time and acclimate.
But even with the change from U-District to Dub-Sea, I refused to allow the creativity to rust. Most of late-2015 and early-2016 was dedicated to promoting my fourth book, A Book About a Film, which received the most promotion out of all my publications, and I’m happy to say was met with very kind words from the folks patient enough to push through it.
Mid-2016, was the start of a fifth novel inspired by the Voynich manuscript, which failed after about four weeks of work and has since been scrapped. But that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen. Keep in mind, I’ve been known to salvage unrealized projects before. Let’s not forget that Yeval was originally a screenplay that was eventually scrapped mainly due to length (having added the internal monologue and elements of transgressive fiction afterwards, when I realized I’d get more attention and satisfaction out of the story being more of an ugly art piece rather than dark entertainment, though I secretly wanted it to be both); and Echo with Laughter was a script rejected by a director/friend/producer for being too “on the nose”, but I ended up turning it into a short-story and Sirens Call Publications published it as The Stairwell. And then, of course, there’s A Book About a Film, that got several false starts between 2010–2014. So, if this Voynich manuscript idea sounds appealing to you, never say never.
But even though that particular “fifth novel” didn’t work out doesn’t mean there’s not another fifth novel in the works. In fact, that’s my main motivation for posting this today. Two chapters and a prologue have been completed, and while this is not deep enough to the point of no return, I’ve written over 17,000 words of internal notes; so, I technically have half a novel’s worth down, so I do think it’s a bit far to turn back. Plus, this was the story I’ve been wanting to write for several years, but have forced myself to hold off. Maybe that’s why the Voynich manuscript idea didn’t work out; maybe I’m simply far more passionate about this current idea than the Voynich one.
So what’s this big passionate idea I have? Isn’t it better to keep you in suspense? No? Well, I respectfully disagree, but I’ll compromise and share some details wit-cha. I’m going back to the first-person narrative. I know, I know, there are a lot of limitations, but I think it’s best for the story. So far, I’ve written four books, my first two in the first-person (Yeval and The Pack) and my most recent two in the third person omniscient (Jill, very omniscient; and A Book About a Film); I’m digging back into the style of my early days of publication, already almost 10 years ago, of first person narration. But like with every new story I write, I want to do it differently. Instead of having one main character narrating the story (props to Randy Mulray and Siggy Farris), I’m going to have several different characters tell their story, which takes place during the buildup of a great war (with an obvious war-is-not-great moral, but I’ll try not to be cliché about it); a writing style that first got my attention when reading Chuck Palahniuk‘s Snuff.
As for when you’ll get to read this work all depends on how long it takes me to write it, which in turn depends on how long it is. I’ve been pretty accurate with my release date estimations but have a tendency to overestimate my word count during the writing process. Right now, it looks like I’m on track to meet my one-novel-every-three-years average (so late-2018), with a likely length of 125,000 words. Before finishing the first chapter, I thought all my ideas would result in a read far more dense, like 300,000 words; but, like with my other books, when I get the ideas on paper, I like to keep things tight. I don’t like a moment of boredom, or a single word to go to waste. An editor for Jill once told me I had so much going on so quickly—a statement I couldn’t deny, originally planning to divide the story into 2–4 separate books—but I refused the suggestion to fluff my material. Reading takes time and it’s very easy to get bored. A reader should be entertained from the first word to the last; and there should be things underneath the surface, between the lines, so the reader is motivated to come back and discover something that wasn’t there the first time. So, will this fifth novel that’s gone from 300,000 words down to 125,000 words perhaps go lower? I doubt it, because unlike Jill, which was a beginning, middle and an end that I thought could be so expansive that I’d have to divide it up; this fifth novel is a beginning, middle and end to the start of a great war. Will I want to write about the war itself and the aftermath of it? Maybe, but that would be two different books. And while I’ve said before that I generally find sequels unnecessary, a sequel(s) to novel #5 might be necessary.
But here’s a critical thing: I don’t want to be that writer who just publishes book after book, as if it’s the size of the bibliography that counts instead of the actual stories. While I don’t think of my work in terms of good or bad (that’s the reader’s job, not the writer’s), my books mean a lot to me and I intend that each of them continue to count for something. A day won’t come when I do this strictly for money or the size of my bibliography or to stay relevant, etc. I write because it makes me happy; sometimes it’s therapeutic, other times I simply just want to write. If the day comes when I stop loving it, I won’t force some piece of tripe into the world. Like I said, reading is hard. It takes time and patience. To present to the world a story so insincere is, to me, a writer’s greatest crime.
I’m not saying I’ve published masterpieces. Again, it’s up to the reader to decide good or bad, not the writer. I fully admit that the grammar Nazis would have a field day with me. But only someone who has absolutely no creative backbone could think that something not printed through those huge publishing houses (most of which have at least a couple of errors of their own) could be free of any grammar issues. There’s a difference between presentable and quality. One is polished, the other may be something that’s tarnished; but many times, the latter has more heart. And despite any shortcomings I have as a writer (like shamelessly starting sentences with “and” and “but”), my work always comes from the heart. And while the criticizers say some pretty funny things, it’s those that enjoyed my books and write me about it who make this all worthwhile. Chef Ben Shewry once told himself after he received one of his first compliments, “[I]f there’s one table that likes it, there will be others.” I don’t see why the same doesn’t go for books.
So even though I write because I love it, it’s the kind words of those who took the time to send me compliments that keeps me going. And, with that said, I’ll get back to writing.
C. W. Schultz’s fourth novel A Book About a Film is officially available for purchase today! It’s an academic study on the cult classic The Cornfield People that not only acts as a novelization of the movie but also as a thriller in its own right when the book begins to dig into the film’s hidden messages, reoccurring themes and haunting obscurity. The book analyzes a chilling movie which follows a secret society that knows the meaning of life and what comes after death… and the cult will stop at nothing to keep their treasured knowledge hidden from outsiders.
You can watch the teaser trailer here!
A Book About a Film has been receiving lots of praise. Nick Rossi of Reading Other People said “Schultz is destined for greatness” in his review; while Joanie Chevalier, author of Deadly Dating Games: Murder. Blackmail. Romance., gave A Book About a Film ★★★★★ (out of five) in her review. Ajoobacats Blog commended the book for being original and unusual, saying “this is one hell of a read for film enthusiasts” in the review. An overall rave review came from RedPillows, who said the book was ultimately intriguing and well-written. Schultz’s narrative choices was said to be “complex, gripping, and ultimately hard to put down” in a review from the Midwest Book Review. Of the copious analysis, disorienting narrative and unique layout, Kirkus’s response was that the subject’s “conceit is rather ingenious”.
I was provided with an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. Initially, I was not at all certain as to what to expect. The blurb got me searching the internet for as much information as I could about the premise of the story. When I realized that there was not much to go on and almost every search that turned up somehow pointed back to the upcoming book: A Book About a Film, I started reading it with much more interest.
About the Book:
Author C. W. Schultz’s fourth release A BOOK ABOUT A FILM is a matchless thriller focusing on a low-budget movie called THE CORNFIELD PEOPLE, which follows journalist Joe Fischer as he investigates the titular group. The Cornfield People are a secret society who know the meaning of life and what comes after death. It is essential to the Cornfield People that their knowledge remain hidden from outsiders, and they will stop at nothing to protect their secret. Schultz surveys censorship through the means of violence in this chilling and unforgettable book. This satire on film-criticism takes on a double-narrative, with one acting as a novelization of the movie, while the other examines the film’s hidden messages, motifs and haunting obscurity.
This is a narrative about the plot of the above said film which is said to be lost while some think of it as an urban legend. The plot of the film is explained in a manner that prompts the reader to visualize each scene. The author not only describes the setting, but also talks about the camera angle and each character’s current position in the scene. Added to this are annotations where the author has interspersed his research along with the thoughts and quotes from several well-known film-makers, writers, producers and others in the field of film-making.
The story is intriguing, dealing with a group of people who claim to know the truth about life and what comes after death. We do however, meet some characters who are portrayed as cold and calculating. The bottom-line of the plot comes down to protecting a secret for the greater good, to protect mankind and the extent to which people can go to accomplish this. There are many references to breaking the fourth wall and how the characters are seemingly aware of their audience. This has been described in detail and analyzed in several instances. The author has made sure to bring out these points quite clearly.
The principal character, a journalist by profession is shown as intelligent with a slight sense of humor reflected when he encounters different situations while he has been tasked with investigating the Cornfield People. There are instances when we see the analysis provided while trying to narrow down a time frame or period for when this film may have been taken. With little to no information, these first hand and second hand reports add some mystery to the book. The story does fall a little flat at times where a sense of mystery is created but the author doesn’t go deeper with the explanation. However, this does not take away from the beauty of the overall idea.
The reader, through this narrative is in for an interesting read whereby the author ensures that he/she will go away with enough knowledge about this film that they will start their own research into it. Judging by the story, this would indeed be a classic film to watch. A rather well-written book, this story about a film will spark the interest of the reader and create awareness about the film
This rather unusual read is a fictional account of a lost film or a film that never existed according to the hype in the book called The Cornfield People (aka Operation D-minor and The Phantom), which is about the secret of life and broadly speaking about the secrets held by a cult of near death survivors who will do anything to protect their cult and the secret they know.
When one of their own flees them and tries to give this secret to a journalist at a Paranormal magazine, Joe Fischer, the journalist in question must jump through a series of hoops to find validity in this bizarre tale and get to the bottom of this secret in order to write his expose.
Written as a scene by scene account of this mysterious film and annotated with editorialized footnotes (which incidentally don’t work very well on Kindle as the author has not taken advantage of the Word Wise feature to aid readers by simplifying the text) from various legendary filmmakers, like Ridley Scott and Tarantino, this is one hell of a read for film enthusiasts and though I would never describe myself as a film enthusiast I did get swept away by the mystery contained in this elusive novel. I have never read a book from this author before but I found A Book About A Film, an original, if not unusual read.
However, as much as I enjoyed it the lack of formatting on ereader and the frequent typos made this probably the most difficult ebook I have read to date
Got any books released after the 1980s on your bookshelf? Maybe something by Stephen King? Jack Ketchum? George R. R. Martin? Of course you do. Go ahead and grab one, and take a look either on the back cover or the first couple of pages. Odds are, there will be an excerpt from Kirkus Reviews. Well, they had a chance to read A Book About a Film and had some pretty nice things say. Read the full review below, and stay tuned for more as September 8th approaches.
Schultz’s (Jill, 2012, etc.) novel looks at the apocrypha surrounding an infamous lost film.
In this metafictional work, a fictionalized version of the author describes a film that he claims is real, although he acknowledges that many people believe it to be an urban legend. At the same time, he attempts to publish this account with a fictional publisher. If the plot sounds tangled, that’s sort of the point, as this novel is set in the underground world of rare, lost, and legendary independent films, where the smoke and mirrors surrounding a movie can prove more deceptive than those used to make it. The film, known as The Cornfield People, among other titles, is a low-budget neo-noir shot between 1999 and 2001. It follows a journalist at a paranormal publication investigating the eponymous secret society, which is willing to go to great lengths to protect their esoteric knowledge of life and death. The book opens with a foreword explaining that this book is actually the second edition of A Book About a Film, the first having been so explosive that the publisher was forced to redact it, due to an apparent shadowy conspiracy working to keep all knowledge of the film from the public. Even so, “there are still many out there who object to this version as well, as they believe what is reported in these texts are a threat to everyone,” says the foreword’s author. Schultz then offers an annotated, scene-by-scene account of the film, along with supplementary materials; the texts become progressively more sinister as the film’s plot begins to bleed into events of the “real” world. Overall, the novel’s conceit is rather ingenious. However, the author unfortunately gets in his own way when it comes to its execution. The story’s tension is undercut by its jocular tone, and the author isn’t enough of a skilled ventriloquist to successfully mimic the array of critics and film experts whose quotes populate the text. Additionally, the film at the center of book simply isn’t persuasive enough to support all the marginalia. Although this book is fun at times, readers will be left wishing that it had just a bit more polish.
A story with a great premise that never quite takes flight.