What Am Art?

What is the value of art? What is the purpose of art? How do we define who is and isn’t an artist? And also, what the hell is even art?

These are big questions. The AI rise didn’t create them, but it did put them in the spotlight for many people who never considered them before. Great thinkers have struggled with these questions since probably a week after the first person painted a buffalo on a cave wall. There are no easy answers. Not until I arrived on the scene.

You’re welcome in advance.

The thing about art and creative expression is that there is no single answer to any of those questions. Some art tears apart cultural and societal conventions, challenging what we hold sacred. Some art is dinosaurs fighting robots because dinosaurs fighting robots are cool.

Why do we create art in the first place?… Read the rest “What Am Art?”

Slice of Life

It’s a little late, but here’s a Valentine’s Day short story.

Gil’s All Fright Diner

Having a ghost girlfriend came with disadvantages. For one, Cathy was impossible to blindfold.

She sat in the passenger seat with her hands over her eyes. She’d peek between her fingers now and then, forcing him to block her view with his free hand as he drove.

“You said you wouldn’t,” said Earl.

“I know, but it’s just we’ve been driving for a while.”

“We’re almost there,” he said.

“I don’t like surprises.”

“You’ll like this one.”

She closed her fingers and leaned back in her seat. “Okay, but it better be amazing.”

They drove farther down the road. The withered trees stretched overhead, blotting out the night sky, leaving only the headlights to cut through the darkness. They didn’t do a great job, and he turned them off.… Read the rest “Slice of Life”

Rogue

The Automatic Detective

There’s a lot of waiting in this job, and I can’t share news that isn’t really news at this stage. But something kind of cool is in development, and so I’d like to share this short story I wrote a few years ago. Consider it a cryptic hint of possibilities to come. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Sanchez had seen his share of supervillain lairs. It came with the job. There was one constant when it came to evil geniuses. The more elaborate the lair, the less dangerous the villain. The villains who built elaborate dome headquarters with their logo stamped all over it (and branding was something villains seemed to take very seriously) were inevitably pushovers compared to the science criminals who rented a nondescript warehouse. Megalith’s base of operations was of the warehouse variety, and it meant trouble.… Read the rest “Rogue”

Unbearable

On this very special A. LEE MARTINEZ APPRECIATION DAY!!, I’m sharing the first chapter of my new work in progress. The working title is Unbearable, but I’ll probably change that at some point. In fact, I’ll probably change a lot of things. Thats what the In-Progress for Work-In-Progress means.

Anyway, enjoy. 

And thanks for caring. I only get paid because you do.

 

You find the strangest stuff when digging your own grave.

The spade broke the soft earth easily. I’d dug out a shallow trench and wasn’t even tired. And I’d worried I’d meet my end sweaty and out of breath.

@Roger sat on a tree stump, watching me with a pistol across his lap. I liked Roger. He was a good guy. Despite the situation, I still thought of us as friends.

“How deep do we want this?” I asked, tossing more dirt to the side.… Read the rest “Unbearable”

A. LEE MARTINEZ APPRECIATION DAY!! 2023

For those of you keeping count, this is the 50th one. Of course, this holiday only really rose to national prominence with the publication of my first novel Gil’s All Fright Novel in 2005. I’m not saying there weren’t celebrations before that, but they tended to be small affairs instead of the sweeping parades and extravagant fireworks displays we get these days.

Simpler times.

I’ve been a professional published novelist for 18 years now. Counting the years I was only an aspiring writer I’ve been doing this job–in one form or another–for roughly three decades. In that time, I’ve written a lot of books, most of which have not and will never be published. I’ve had 13 novels published, 3 different publishers, one Chinese language film adaptation, dozens of TV and film options that have never quite made it across the finish line, and currently five or six other options in various stages of development–some more promising than others.… Read the rest “A. LEE MARTINEZ APPRECIATION DAY!! 2023”

A Long Road Home

I saw the hitchhiker every day on the same stretch of road. Sometimes, when circumstances were just right, I’d see a car stop to pick her up. If they gave her a lift, she’d give them a story to tell about the ghost girl who can never make it to home but keeps thumbing a ride in hope or desperation.

I’d heard the stories. That she was a young woman on her way to a music festival. Some said it was Woodstock, but I doubted that. Woodstock had been a long way away, It was an assumption born of her tie-dyed T-jeans and Jimi Hendrix T-shirt.

I doubted she was a ghost from the ‘60s at all. She had the look, but her sunglasses seemed very ‘90s to me. Not that I was an expert. My real problem with the story was that it was too on the nose.… Read the rest “A Long Road Home”

Minding the Details

In stories, people don’t usually exchange pleasantries during phone calls, but as much as people like to poke fun at the convention, it exists for a good reason. Hello and Good-Bye add nothing to the conversation two characters might be having. It tells us nothing about who they are. It offers no insight into their relationship. It usually doesn’t do anything but fill up some space.

There’s a lot of rules like that in storytelling. Stories do not usually bother with the minutiae of everyday life. I’m sure you can pick your favorite examples. One of mine is when characters have a conversation that continues through to a location change, implying that perhaps they stopped talking, traveled to a new location in silence, and then just started where the left off when they arrived.

These conventions exist because they allow us to skip the boring stuff and get the interesting bits.… Read the rest “Minding the Details”

HOW TO SUCCEED IN PUBLISHING BY REALLY, REALLY TRYING AND GETTING LUCKY

How do you define superstitious?

We all have a convenient definition at our fingertips. It usually involves lucky socks or good luck rituals or avoiding behavior that “jinxes” us. That sort of superstitious is obvious, and even people who employ it tend to acknowledge that it’s more of a feeling than real world effect. It’s not that people don’t sincerely believe in these things. It’s just that they aren’t surprised when they don’t work consistently. Luck is a fickle ally, even when we throw offerings her way.

I’m pretty low on the superstitious index, but I did own a car for over a decade that I refused to ever fill up completely with gas because twice it had a maintenance issue soon after I did. Neither issue had anything to do with the fuel system in any way, but once the association was made I couldn’t ditch it.… Read the rest “HOW TO SUCCEED IN PUBLISHING BY REALLY, REALLY TRYING AND GETTING LUCKY”

The Fearful Moon

Gil’s All Fright Diner remains a $2.99 deal on Kindle for this month. My first novel was published 17 years ago. Time comes for us all. Since then, I’ve published a few books, so maybe you’ve never read it. Here’s a great chance to do that.

In the meantime, here’s an original free short story featuring Duke, one of the protagonists of the novel. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Duke came out of the bathroom to find Marcy pointing a gun at him. He rubbed a towel across his wet hair and reached for his beer on the table beside him.

“Don’t try anything,” she said.

Duke, big and fat and hairy and naked, took a long swig of his beer. The only light in the motel room came from the bathroom behind him, the cheap lamp beside Marcy, and whatever was filtering through the broken blinds.… Read the rest “The Fearful Moon”

The Long Halloween of Horace Slater

This November, Gil’s All Fright Diner’s eBook is on sale for $2.99

Here’s a short story based on the novel’s setting: The Southwestern town of Rockwood, where the supernatural is commonplace. I’ve written a lot since then, but I’ll always have an affection for Rockwood.

Enjoy.

Rockwood spread across the desert, and aside from the trailer park and a few clusters of houses here and there, it was a long walk from door-to-door on Halloween. Some parents drove their kids around, but even then, it was a lot of work for not much candy. Especially since the next town over had an annual carnival with a bounce house for the kids and reasonably priced alcohol for the parents.

There were still a few diehards who’d make the rounds in Rockwood, but these exceptions were usually done before dusk. Except for Horace Slater, who came out long after darkness fell to prowl the night in search of tricks and / or treats.… Read the rest “The Long Halloween of Horace Slater”