Wonderful Now: Pain in the Arts

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“Defeat II” by Yvonne Palermo. Artist’s statement: “Sometimes I just want to crawl into the tightest ball I can and disappear.”

Every artist working is dealing with some sort of emotional damage. Something in our lives has deeply affected us along the way. Some of us are not even aware of it. I think if you read something or hear a song by someone that cuts into you, it’s that artist’s hurt coming through and chances are if you felt it you probably have experienced that sort of pain, too. It’s that raw truth and the willingness to share that experience that makes art resonate. As both a songwriter and as an author, I find myself venturing back to old memories, moments in time that impacted me, for better or worse. For my new book, UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND, it was mostly fun. I got to go back to the 80s and put myself in what was a mostly happy time in my life. The music, the beach, no cell phones, no internet…ah, a simpler time indeed. But there’s also loss that slithered its way in there. I won’t go into details (no spoilers here). The “yin and yang”, right? The light and the dark.

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Two years ago, my wife was going to therapy and suggested that I should give it a shot. I said, what the hell, and signed up. Well, let me tell you something, I only went to about four sessions. That was pretty much just going through my life, a semi-brief overview of the things from my earliest memories up to now. I tell you this because in those limited sessions I learned so much more about myself. And honestly, it was enlightening and heartbreaking. I’d love to go back and see my therapist again, but I’ll have to prepare myself a little better next time around.
Going back over my life from what I assumed was a safe place-Glenn here and now- I was surprised by how much stuff I’d just compartmentalized and filed away between the ages of 14 and 25. I mean, for a decade I was adrift. My parent’s divorce was a heck of a lot heavier than I thought. When you’re in the moment, when it’s all happening, you don’t really have a choice to stop and examine it and explore how it makes you feel. You’re just stuck on survive. Now, I always swept all that aside, because my childhood drama or trauma, was insignificant compared to say someone who was molested or lost a parent or something tragic like that, but as it turns out, my life trajectory at 14 wasn’t normal or safe, either.

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My parent’s got divorced and moved to different cities and homes. Mind you, we lived in the same town and trailer since before I was born. And they allowed me at 15 or 16 to move in with my brother, who at 19 or 20, was just a freaking kid still himself. That began my life of sort of drifting from couch to couch, and while I felt like I was making it from day to day okay, I never realized just how lonely and scary that way of life was. It was my normal. I simply accepted it and pushed on. As a parent now, I know that it’s not supposed to be that way, that your parents are supposed to take care of you. Your parents are supposed to keep you safe. Your parents are supposed to be there for you when you’re going through those all too tumultuous teenage feelings and searching for who you’re supposed to be. While my parents didn’t kick me out, they certainly didn’t step up and parent me. They were dealing with their own personal drama, and I guess they thought I was grown up enough to be able to take care of myself. They did check up on me and buy me groceries, but that wasn’t totally consistent, either. There were days of living off fruit pies (those crappy cheap treats at 7-11) and packets of picante sauce I’d take from McDonald’s. Now, my mom would have taken me back in at any time, and I did return when I needed to. I had spinal fusion surgery at 16 because of my scoliosis. Within six months, I was back out surfing the couches of friends.

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So, what got this piece started? Well, I was listening to the song “Wonderful” by Everclear. It is truly a fantastic track. I always thought that. But after my therapy sessions and not hearing the song in a bazillion years, yesterday all those emotions of fear, frustration, and loneliness came flooding back. It was like I was hearing the song for the first time. I was driving in my van, crying as I sang along. It must have been a sight to behold for people passing by, but I’ve never really worried about such things. I’m an artist. I like to feel. And I felt Art Alexakis’s pain. And it was my pain, too.
My advice for my friends out there with hopes and aspirations to become writers:  you should always dare to dip into that pain. It’s very, very cathartic. And not just for you, but for that person out there like you that never knew they needed your words so very much.
Sorry if this was a little all over the place, but I just needed to write it down. Also, I’m bummed to have learned that Art Alexakis was diagnosed with MS last year. I hope the best for him.

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Be good to one another, my friends.
Stay positive.

“SLEEP” I wrote this song in 1998.

(Share the Horror) January Reads & Reviews

 

January is always slow at the hotel, so I get a lot of my reading done early. A number of these I started in December, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple shorter ones, LIMBS from Tim Meyer and ANTARCTIC ICE BEASTS from Hunter Shea, as well.

Overall, this was a very good set of reads. LIMBS and ANTARCTIC ICE BEASTS were a bit quirky, but still kept me entertained, especially LIMBS, the quirkiest love story this side of a prosthetics factory!

J.H. Moncrieff’s RETURN TO DYATLOV PASS had so many things I love–yetis (maybe), podcasters, winter mountain climbing (these types of stories are always so intense: see also Malfi’s THE ASCENT), and great characters.

David Wellington’s  THE LAST ASTRONAUT was a ton of sci-fi horror fun with a strong set of female characters and male douchebags. Guys, we really do a great job at fucking things up, don’t we?  I really enjoyed this one.

Simone St. James is a new to me author I found thanks to the My Favorite Murder Instagram page.  I grabbed THE BROKEN GIRLS from the library, and after a few pages, preordered St. James’ next one THE SUNDOWN MOTEL. Fiona’s sister was murdered on the grounds of the closed girls school, Idlewild Hall, back in 1994. Years later, as a journalist, Fiona catches wind of a new owner set on reopening the old school. When a body of a young woman is found at the bottom of the well, the past comes back into play and Fiona is swept up in it all.  It goes back and forth from present day to the 50s when the school was still active and a set of girls that play a huge role in all that unfolds.  I thought this book was fan-freaking-tastic.

I’m looking forward to fitting in a few more 2019 titles over the next couple weeks before I do my Favorites of 2019 book list.

I’m currently reading Hunter Shea’s SLASH and Caitlin Starling’s THE LUMINOUS DEAD. Digging both of these very much.

You can see and follow all my 2020 reviews here: Grolfe @ Goodreads  

Stay tuned and stay positive!

UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND: ARCs

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A few weeks ago, Flame Tree Press put up an ARC of my forthcoming novel, UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND, at NetGalley. They also started sending out print ARCs to reviewers and magazines, that sort of thing.  Honestly, I wasn’t ready.  Mentally, I was preparing myself to do promotions in a few months (the book isn’t out until May 21st).

One of the things that had me more anxious with this release than any of my previous ones is that the only people that read it were me, Don, and one of the other Flame Tree editors. Unlike previous books that I sent to Erin,  my usual editor, and maybe a couple other writer buds to eyeball, this one went straight from my laptop to my publisher (more on that in a later post).

It is an odd feeling for me.

The first reviews are already coming in and I’m not even sure how to share and promote those (it feels so early), but I figured when I get anxious about something it helps to write, so here we are.

Personally, I think if you took the movies, The Lost Boys, Bumblebee, and one of almost any 80s young love stories and put them together, you’d get something like this book.   From the early reviews, I think that’s what people are getting from it, too and that makes me smile.

Here’s a few snippets from those reviews (all available at GoodReads or NetGalley)

“The cutest coming of age love story that goes terrible wrong!”

The Lost Boys mixed with Romeo and Juliet.”

“Glenn Rolfe and Flame Tree press have teamed up for a title that I’d not only rank as Rolfe’s best, but I’d also rank it amongst my other favorite Flame Tree Press titles.”

“This was a totally awesome 80s inspired vampire horror novel. The book gave me Fright Night and Lost Boys vibes.”

“It made you feel like a teen again and I really loved that. Plus the killings? I dig it, that is why I wanted to read it in the first place–so, sweet love story with vampire murders? Sign me up!”

“(Until Summer Comes Around) is well written, has great pacing and brought back a lot of memories for me of my own youth, holidays, girls I met and still managed to weave a solid horror story throughout. I highly recommend this book.”

Even one of my tougher critics enjoyed it (for the most part). So far its been very positive. If you want to get an early peek at this one,  it is still available by request at NetGalley: Until Summer Comes Around 

Or if you have been receiving Flame Tree ARCs through the publisher, feel free to ask your contact there for a copy.

Also, check out the sweet Spotify soundtrack: UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND (An Original Novel Soundtrack)

I hope you guys dig it!

And expect plenty of posts regarding the book in the coming weeks and months. Cheers!

Here’s a couple of videos that just missed the soundtrack

Brave the Waters: A kings Tweet.

I wanna be better.

 

The Stephen King tweet above about diversity got me thinking. And I think that’s a good thing. Whether you took (or didn’t take) offense to his tweet, whether the context is right or wrong, I read a number of the responses and had one initial take that I had to go back and reevaluate.

I’m a white guy in my forties. I’m all for diversity in the world. I find myself rolling my eyes at dumb white guys who can’t see that white privilege IS a thing. When I first read King’s tweet, I saw it from my side of the fence. I pointed out to a responder that I believed King was just talking about being authentic in your art no matter who you are or what your background is.

As I got a couple of responses, I started to step back from my own initial feelings and thoughts and look at where I was coming from. I told myself, I don’t write a lot of diverse characters in my own work because I don’t want to misrepresent a culture or way of life I know nothing about. And that’s right, right?

Well, then I stepped back even further and looked at some of the many things I dare to write about that I honestly don’t know tons about.  I will willingly write about police, police procedures, murderers and murders, criminals that do things I’ve never come close to doing, and a billion other things that I either research or completely makeup.

It turns out I may have been lined up next to my white privilege buddies…and that bugs me.

With that in mind, how do I then use that old excuse to not write more diverse characters into my stories? What is preventing me from doing the research? Can’t I just as easily offend a law enforcement officer that reads my work as say, a black man or Japanese woman that finds my book? Yet, I don’t let it stop me in most areas of my storytelling.

I think my goal for 2020 is to brave the waters of diversity. I have friends I can reach out to with questions, I have books I can read, documentaries I can watch. The resources are out there, and as a white writer, I just have to stop stopping myself from using them. And you know what? My writing will probably be better for it.

Whatever comes from the King tweet, let’s try to look at it from other people’s perspectives. Let’s try to use it to make what we do better. Even if that is just discussing it and opening a dialog with one another.

Thanks for listening, and stay positive.

-GR

My Adventures in Patreon: Year One

It hasn’t quite been a year yet but close enough.

Patronage has fluctuated a bit since starting up, but we seem to be at a happy spot.

My goal was to get up to 25 patrons, but we haven’t gotten there yet. And that’s okay. I like the gang we do have.

I wanted to supply some strong content for you guys. I hope I have. I wanted to produce a new short story each month. Out of 10 months, I managed 8 stories. Not too bad considering I had to write and finish a new novel for my new publisher within a 3 month window  (Until Summer Comes Around will land on your bookshelves this May!).

I started a serial novel (Bring Me to Life) for my $5 patrons, and I managed three chapters.  We have plenty more on the way!

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And I tried to give you some insight into the way I do my thing. I hope some of that writing advice helped you out in some way.

A number of patrons received signed print copies of the pre-Poltergeist Press edition  of Blood and Rain, and those of you that have stuck it out with me for the majority of this thing will be receiving what I hope is an annual thing, my short fiction collection Nocturnal Pursuits.  This collection is just for you guys (although some people managed to nab a copy while I had it up on Amazon for a quick minute). The book features all 8 of the stories from the Get Rolfed Patreon Short Story Series (“Hollowed”, “What’s My Again”, “Molly”, “Something in the Water”, “Orson’s Gas n ‘ Go”, “Bag Lunch”, “Everett”, “Gone Away” ) Plus, I tossed in some extras (“Master of Beyond”, “In the Basement of the Amazing Alex Cucumber”, “You Can Have it All Back”, and “Out of Range”).  The book came out pretty well. I finally learned how to properly format a print book, so that was good! And using he Amazon cover creator was a really nice experience, as well.

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For those of you NOT subscribing to my Patreon page, I am planning a wide release of the official (and bigger/better edited) edition of Nocturnal Pursuits probably sometime late 2020 or early 2021.

Overall, I feel like it was a successful first year.

For $5 a month, most of my patrons received at least one free signed paperback (Blood and Rain) and will be adding this exclusive signed paperback copy of Nocturnal Pursuits. They also receive the free short stories in eBook form with exclusive covers that I’ve created. 🙂

O yeah! and  we did a giveaway for Patrons only. One of you won a copy of the Thunderstorm Books hardcover Exclusive of  The Window !!!

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The goals for 2020 remain the same: one new story per month. No less than one new chapter of the serial novel. A new piece on writing at least every other month, and more behind the scenes (early cover reveals, early rough draft chapters of works in progress-that sort of thing).  I’d love to do a live q and A session sometime this year, but well see.

What’s on the horizon for $5 patrons in 2020:

  • Signed print edition of my next novel, Until Summer Comes Around
  • Signed print edition of the novel after that, Ascension Agenda (hopefully we get this one finished for a fall release)
  • Plus, we’ll be doing at least 2 giveaways for 1) a hardcover edition of Until Summer Comes Around and 2) another special edition hardcover  I haven’t announced yet.
  • Signed EXCLUSIVE print edition of short fiction collection #2

For those of you considering joining, here are the tiers and what they entail

Welcome Aboard!
$1 or more per month
  • Access to bi-monthly personal essays offering writing advice
  • Behind the scenes looks at works in progress
  • Early cover reveals
Join $1 Tier
Easy Access
$2 or more per month
  • One free short story per month
  • Access to bi-monthly personal essays offering writing advice
  • Behind the scenes looks at works in progress
  • Early cover reveals
Join $2 Tier
Oh, Snap!
$5 or more per month
  • For as long as you are a current Patron, you will receive free ebook copies of all new releases.
  • A free signed copy of all new paperbacks (US & CA only and excluding re-releases)
  • Access to my serial novel,  BRING ME TO LIFE
  • All the benefits of EASY ACCESS tier

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If you want to sign up go to the page: Get Rolfed Patreon 

Thanks to all of you guys that joined, thanks to all of you that are still there, and thank you to any of you considering joining.

Bring on 2020!