Monday, February 21, 2011

Muse-ic



To put it simple...I love music!

I was watching the movie Pirate Radio (for the 2nd time, in as many weeks) and it occurred to me; the reason I like the movie so much was because of the music. Not only do they play some really great music in the movie, but the movie is all about the love of Rock N Roll. The more I thought about it the more I realized how much I really love music. I wouldn't want to imagine my life without it and I think it's my love of music that helped my love for books/authors like High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho and even the Jack Kerouac classic On The Road.

I listen to music when I drive, when I sleep and most of all when I write. I listen to music all the time and I have a pretty eclectic taste in what I listen to. My music is my muse. I have playlists on my Winamp for every different project and mood in my life. These lists serve as soundtracks to my work and my life.

I like to buy movie soundtracks with bands I like on them. It's really easy to learn about other great bands that way. It's not unheard of for me to spend hours (and entirely too much money) in a record store, and if they are having any kind of sale, I could be in there all day.

My favorite places to buy music are in St. Louis. I like to shop Vintage Vinyl (on Delmar) FYE (on Hampton) and APOP Records (Cherokee St.) I also buy a lot of music from Record Cellar in Vincennes, but I won't hesitate to get used CDs from Amazon. The last three albums I picked up were Strawfoot: How We Prospered, Iron and Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean and The Decemberist: The King Is Dead. I'm enjoying all three of them and It looks like 2011 is off to a great start musically.

I know I keep using the word album to describe a new CD, to be honest, I miss the days when I had a record player. My taste in music hadn't matured enough yet and I took my turntable for granted. Some days when I'm sitting around listening to CDs or MP3s working on a new story, I wish that it had the old record sound. The only good thing about the digital music revolution is that people are ditching their CD and vinyl collections. That is great for junk store vultures like my friends and I. I've been lucky enough lately to find some really cool stuff like Bad Religion and Badly Drawn Boy in pawn shops and used racks at the record store. It doesn't matter if the album is new or used, if the music is classic or an instant favorite, as long as I have my Muse-ic I'll be just fine.

Some people say they love music, but what they really mean is they like a few bands or that they like music society feeds them. I'm not going to say that just because I call myself a music lover, I love everything. I personally can't stand Insane Clown Posse, Nickelback or Toby Kieth. Their music just seems fake or generic to me, but they are packaged and market to the masses. It's just not for me.


If I had to list my favorite bands I'll say...


Johnny Cash
Tom Waits
Elvis Costello
Bob Dylan
B.B. King
Eric Clapton
Elton John
All things Nick Cave
Leonard Cohen
The Ramones
The Velvet Underground
PJ Harvey
Tori Amos
Billie Holiday
Death Cab For Cutie
All things Mike Patton
Snow Patrol
Modest Mouse
Man Man
Murder By Death
Medeski, Martin & Wood
John Prine
John Coltrane
Joe Cocker
Amos Lee
Ben Folds
Harry Manfredini
Muddy Waters
Diana Krall
Portishead
The Modern Lover
Dum Dum Girls
Face to Face
The Violent Femmes
All things Jack White
The Rolling Stones
Patsy Cline
Hank Williams Sr.
Hank III
Zoe Bokebinder
The Decemberist
Iron and Wine
City and Colour
The Broderick
Wu Tang Clan
Run DMC
2 Pac
Drake
A Perfect Circle
Grande Ole Party
Cibo Matto
7 Shot Screamer
Mumford and Sons
Cake
Doves
The Strokes
The Devil Makes Three
The Doors
The Turtles
& The Beatles...just to name a few.

I feel bad because I'm sure I missed a band I love, but this is just the first 60 I could think of. Some of the people on this list are more well known than others, but if you have not heard of my friends The Broderick or Harry Manfredini you need to do yourself a favor and check them out.



The Broderick is a band from Bloomington, Indiana. The influnces ranging from Bob Dylan and Josh Ritter to Modest Mouse and The Whigs. They have played some pretty cool gigs like SXSW and The Forecastle Music Festival. The Broderick is a perfect example of REAL good music!

Harry Manfredini is best know for his score work on the movie Swamp Thing and Friday The 13th. Manfredini is the man responsible for the chilling theme everyone thinks of when they think of a killer stalking through the woods, but he has done some other really phenomenal music too. My person favorite album he gave me is the music from a film called A Gun, A Car, A Blonde. I listen to it a lot when I'm working on a story that involves a dark place in a city, or humanity.

I hope everyone with check these guys out and if you see me out (or at a book signing) remember I'm not interested in any drama or bullshit, but I will be very interested in what music you've been listening to and any CDs you want to burn for me!!!

- Travis

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Kind Of A Funny Rejection Story


Once upon a time, my friend Robert Freese contacted me about a Bigfoot anthology, that was looking for stories. I wrote a story, called Contravention. Once I was finished it, I emailed it to the appropriate people and crossed my little fingers they would pick me. I really liked the story and I wanted it to have a good home. It wasn't like anything else I had done. There was just something about it. It wasn't the best thing I'd ever came up with, but I had a feeling it was a story destined for good things.

I just knew it would be picked up for the Mondo Sasquatch Anthology.

Fast forward to almost a year later, I haven't heard anything on if my story was going to be used, or even if the book was was still going to happen. I didn't even care anymore. I was busy working on my third version of Eclectic Collection, but after much editing and admitting things to myself, I was a couple stories short.

It was an easy fix. I had other stories, but when I wanted to add some newer stuff I came across the Sasquatch story. I remembered how much my editor and I liked it, but I didn't want to risk putting it out there, before the Mondo book was out. I might have had a little hope it would still happen.

I made one more attempt to contact the Bigfoot people, but I never got a response. In my experiences, that means the project is over and the publisher has fallen off of the face of the earth. I didn't really know if that was the case, but I felt a lot better about including Contravention in Eclectic Collection.

Fast forward again, to the Dark Carnival Film Festival. Eclectic Collection is already out and I have been shamelessly promoting it everywhere. Then Brandon Bennett and I were lucky enough to get to enjoy Dark Carnival and spend time with our friends from Dark Rider Studios. Actress/Model/ Producer/ My Awesome Friend Kitsie Duncan and I had already talked about a trade. She'd give me a copy of their movie Lethal Obsession and I'd give her copy of my book.

We were both happy with the trade, but I didn't expect an email from her less than a week later. As it turns out, Dark Rider was offered a spot in a film project called The Collective, and they were looking for a ideas, or a hairy monster story to adapt to film, for this project.

The funny thing is that Contravention was not only included in Eclectic Collection, but it was also the first story. Once Kitsie read it, she and Chris Jay agreed it was exactly what they were looking for. The rest, as they say is history.

If you follow this blog, or you have you finger on the pulse of what's cool, you know Contravention has been adapted into Dark Rider Studio's movie MEATEATER!

THE END...? NO!

After the story is published, the film is shot and there have been no Sasquatch book sightings, I get an email from the publisher of the book. The email quickly sends me into a fit a laughter, when I read that they have chosen to reject the story, making for one of the best rejection stories ever!

J. Travis Grundon's Contravention will not be in the book Mondo Sasquatch, but you can read it in Eclectic Collection (now available on Amazon and at other fine stores) and watch for a version of it this Spring, from Dark Rider Studios(as a part of The Collective), called MEATEATER!!!

- Travis

Monday, February 14, 2011

Out Of Hibernation and Into The Fire


It has been too long since my last update, but like many people, the cold weather, snow and ice has kept me tucked away in my cave. A lot has happened in that time and a few things have changed. Other changes are still on the way, but officially announcing things and adapting to them needs to happen first.

Papercuts Hurt

Due to financial restraints and creative differences, Papercut Books has shut down for good. This announcement is twice as disappointing, because of the time and work that went into Call of Lovecraft. CoL was ready to go to print, with a great collection of talent, but the inability to pay that talent has killed that project.

I spent a lot of time and energy on this book and I was really looking forward to seeing how successful if could be. As the editor and a contributor on this book, this recent fall of Papercut Books reminds me of my struggles with Forrest J Ackerman's Anthology of the Living Dead. That book went through several vanishing publishers and a lot of misfortune before it was picked up by Black Bed Sheet Books. It was my drive to get that book published, and Forrest J Ackerman getting involved, that got it published.

If Call of Lovecraft is ever going to see a publishing day, I will have to apply that same tenacity.

It is heartbreaking that Papercut was only able to publish two titles before going the way of the dodo. Things seemed to be turning around after the stumbling block, of a founding member leaving the company. A new benefactor joined the company, but do to another series of unfortunate events, he was forced to leave as quickly as he joined.

All of this left me holding the bag and bills for the entire company. We had ttwo books out, three books ready for release, a plethora of ideas, technical/ layout support and an art team, but zero ways to pay everyone. It's not a big secret, but I'm not a publisher. My job at Papercut was author/creative director. All that means is that I got to write books and come of with crazy ideas, then see if the group could flesh them out.

Like my other experiences in the publishing world, this has been an educational experience for me. I will keep doing what I'm doing an hope my agent can land me a real deal. I am focused on being a writer and not spreading myself as thin. This has also led to other reflections and changes...

They Killed A Mockingbird

When Papercut went out of business I felt like it was kind of a waste of time and energy. That was a familiar feeling to me because the bookstore, I opened in September, was also beginning to feel like that too. After only being open 6 months, it was clear that Vincennes was not the place to own a bookstore.

The first month was great, but it only took one month for the “new” to wear off and the customers became fewer and fewer. The rent on the building was reasonable, but when you put money a business everybody says “it takes time to start making money.” That is all well and good, but when we went nearly a week without a single customer and we didn't make a months rent in 4 month, it became a labor of love.

My frustration with the Papercut situation and other personal issues, were already twisting my nerves and the bookstore became just another headache. Almost overnight I didn't like the place. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to put more money into it and I was pissed off that a city can support 11 bars, 5 liquor stores and 4 tattoo shops, but not ONE bookstore.

So many people said “Oh we really needed a bookstore” or “This is really a great place, I'll have to come back,” but they never did. I'm not ungrateful for a few loyal regulars, the awesome events we had or to our volunteer help, but when it came time to focus on what really mattered I noticed that the store was on my list of what mattered.

My partner, B.C. Brown was feeling this same burden. She was the other Papercut author suddenly without a publisher, and the bookstore was a financial drain on her life too. On top of these pains, Brown was also trying to juggle full time school and work, plus time at the store.

To make a long story short, it just isn't worth it.

I understand there is a level or personal accountability here with the failure of Papercut and The Mockingbird. I may have been able to pour more money into both, but I'm not a publisher and I'm not stupid enough to go down a sinking ship.

I am a dad and author. That is where my focus is. I am a good dad and I'm already 117 pages into writing a new book. I've also already finished 3 short stories and outlined 4 more since the start of the new year.

These problems with Papercut and The Mockingbird could have held me down, but I'm not going to let them. I'm getting back on the road with Eclectic Collection and I'm planning to have a new publisher and at least two more books out in 2011.

The Goddamn Eclectic tour picks back up March 12th, when I join my friend Joe Schwartz for the St. Louis Public Library 4th Annual Author Shout Out!

Stay tuned there will be more dates, good news and announcements as early as next week. I'm working with a few people on some groovy projects and I have two leads on a new publisher. I still believe 2011 is my year and I plan to prove it!!!

http://www.amazon.com/Eclectic-Collection-J-Travis-Grundon/dp/1453663126/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_


- Travis