Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let the Write One In

As always, I have a lot of writing projects going on at once, though I am taking a new approach by only allowing myself to dedicate time to two specific projects rather than three or four as I usually do.  For me, that just doesn't work.  It's too difficult to spent the proper time with each project and then one gets terribly neglected and forgotten about.  Could you imagine having four children and completely forgetting about one of them?  You'd probably leave the poor thing in a shopping cart somewhere, and then what?

A world of pain, that's what.

Two at a time works fine with me.  I'm still working on Stronger Than Hate and I have begun the second draft of Through the In Between, Hell Awaits in hopes that I have the manuscript ready for a novel length competition with an April deadline.  So far I'm impressed with my own work, but then again I'm biased.  It's quite a violent and bizarre story, and I'm curious as to how it will be perceived.  I hope to work out a PDF--something I've never done before--of the second draft and send it to a few beta readers while I'm toiling away on the third draft.  I've never done that before with novel length work.  I really don't know how many people will be interested, but any feedback will help, and I want to get this thing polished before submitting to the comp.

Stronger Than Hate is coming along nicely.  I passed the 40K mark last week.  I didn't think this novella was going to make it past 30K, but it has feet and it's running wild.  I think it's becoming out of control enough to finally end, but who knows.  The shit's really hitting the fan for my protagonists.

I have so many stories that need to be written, but I just don't have the time.  There are folks out there who pop out five plus books a year, but that's not me.  It's a slow process that cannot be rushed.  After having a novella rejected a while back, I was given the opportunity to re-write it into a novel.  It's not a sure thing as far as being published with said press, but it's something I will be working on as soon as I am finished with one of the two projects I'm currently working on.  If I try and take on three projects someone is going to be left in the shopping cart at the store, and I don't want that to happen.


Monday, December 26, 2011

X-mas and Other Stuff

Been a while since I posted here.  Shame on me.

Just had a fantastic Christmas.  Three days that were so full with family, good food, good cheer, and opening gifts that it's all a blur.  The house is still a semi-mess from our Christmas Eve party.  My 2 (almost 3) year old son had a blast.  Such a drastic change from last Christmas.  I hope everyone out there had an equally great holiday.

That being said, I got some cool stuff.  Cassette tapes (yes, I still listen to those in the car), Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box (been looking forward to reading that one), clothes and other things too numerous to list.  I also got a Kindle touch, something I was almost certain I would never get because I was so adamantly against e-readers when they came out, fearing that their presence would mark the end of the paper book, which, for a variety of reasons, I don't believe is going to happen (that's fodder for another post).

My parents bought the kindle for me and my mother had already had it linked to her amazon page, so it had several books on it.  Stuff she reads like Danielle Steele that I'll never read, however two books containing novellas I wrote were on the Kindle.  I kept those ones so I could read the other authors (yes, I have print copies, but this is a great way to begin my Kindle experience).  I also went on amazon and bought a few books, most of them only a buck.  You can't beat that with a dead rat.

I finally read Craig Saunders' Scarecrow from our book Scarecrow and the Madness.  An excellent read.  Craig has a fluid style and weaves a masterful story of an ill fated meeting with a band of gypsies.  I appreciated the bits of humor here and there, which makes me look forward to his Grand Mal release, of which, if I'm not mistaken, is a humorous tale.  Craig is a pal of mine, and also a writer who will always be on my radar.

I bid you all farewell.  I have a Kindle that needs to be broken in, and there are stories to be written.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rooting for the Bad Guy

I just can't connect with any of your characters.  I didn't find your protagonist "likable".  In the end, I really didn't care what happened to your protagonist.  There was no one in this story to root for.

Do you consider any of these things while reading a book or short story?  Do you?

I don't.

Perhaps I'm an anomaly, again, but I have no other criteria for reading fiction other than: is this a good story?  I don't ask myself whether or not it is a good story because that will make itself clear when I continue to read and enjoy the story.  I don't ask questions, I just read.  I like well developed characters, of course.  That's what makes a story breathe, and if a story can't breathe, people will lose interest.  Two dimensional characters can sink a potentially great story quicker than the Titanic.  But do those well developed characters have to be traditionally good and evil?  Does the "good" character--the protagonist--have to be likable?

I don't think so.

This is a subject I tread upon from time to time mainly because a good portion of my work deals with unlikable protagonists, and I have had my fair share of rejections stating that those very protagonists that one cannot feel sympathy for is just reason for passing on a story.  And it is--it's their publication after all, they can reject stories for what ever reason they want to.  The question of whether people would read stories based upon something bad happening to an unsympathetic and sometimes evil protagonist turned into the anthology Malicious Deviance, of which hasn't sold very well at all, unfortunately.  Maybe the poor sales is the answer to my question.  With a subtitle like: Stories About Bad People, perhaps potential customers are being led away for fear that they might enjoy a piece of fiction focusing on characters they don't "like".  I'm glad I did the anthology, and, of course, I would love to see it pick up steam, but... That waits to be seen.

The crux of this post, however, is more or less the question of whether the masses could ever divulge themselves in a plot that centered around a person they would scoot away from on a bus or cross the street to avoid if faced with in public?  Could the masses enjoy a tale that depicted the struggles of someone who is more than merely flawed, but down right criminal?  Or would that type of protagonist have to go through a complete transformation for the story to appeal to the general populace?

It's an interesting question.  If one has to be able to "feel" for the protagonist, or "care" about what happens to said protagonists, then I would have to assume that a book centering on a problem and solution in the case of a dastardly man or woman would be very popular within prisons, and, at best, would only be mildly popular in society amongst deviant low-lifes and politicians.  But what if the story is beautifully written from top to bottom, and the story, at its core, is one that the majority of people could really enjoy ... if only that damn protagonist wasn't so BAD!  Because I love the story, but I HATE that bastard of a main character.  How the hell did that slimy snake ever get the lead role in this amazing story in the first place? 

Because bad people have stories too.  It's as simple as that, yet I don't think that kind of story will receive the popular vote.  Although there are always anomalies, and I'm certain there are great examples of this type of tale receiving critical acclaim--I'm just therapeutically spouting off my thoughts here; I really couldn't be bothered with researching such tales, but I will have to do so at some point if for nothing else than to stifle my curiosity.

That being said, I think the idea of writing a story that sympathetically centers on the feelings, trials and tribulations of a child molester, rapist, or deviant of such heinous crimes is not acceptable.  But take heed to the wording of that statement.  I'm talking about sympathy here.  The closing story in Malicious Deviance is a real doozie--one that I almost rejected because the subject matter was so vile, yet after much consideration I realized that the author merely walked to the edge of the taboo pond and dipped a toe, gaining just enough nastiness to create a powerful and thought provoking story about the horrors of human power harnessed and used for evil.  There's not a good person in the bunch, but the story works very effectively.

I struggle with the subject of likable characters because so many of mine are heavily flawed.  Or maybe I just like writing through the perspective of the bad guy.  I'm not sure.  I do write a fair amount of traditional stories with likable characters (always flawed, though, because we're all a bit flawed, right?), and I cannot bring myself to consistently write like that, to consciously reject what my mind tells me to write just for the sake of what people generally like.  If my story is about a rotten SOB, so be it. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ethereal Realm Edits...DONE!

Yes, I finally finished rewrites and edits for my debut novel People of the Ethereal Realm.  My editor, Dan Sutter, is brilliant!  Very glad to work with him.  With the final edits in place he'll give the manuscript a final read through and then it's off to the publisher.  Look for it in 2012 from Twisted Library Press.

I elected not to have a dedication page.  Something about the dedication page that bothers me.  Not sure why.  It's fairly traditional to have one, but then the question is who to dedicate the book to and for what reason.  I don't know, I may reconsider.  I have been throwing around the idea of a thank you page as well, you know, to thank everyone who had a hand in bringing my manuscript to life.

I've also been pondering the promotional side of things. In particular, the sending out of the manuscript for review before the book is published for the purpose of getting a blurb or two for the front and back cover.  We did this for Scarecrow and the Madness and it seemed to work out pretty well.  It's something I'm seriously considering.  I think it helps spread the word from the get go, and in these trying times we need to spread the word like hippies spread the clap.

If you're not thoroughly grossed out by that last comment, I bid you good day.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Shivers of Horror Gives Scarecrow and the Madness...

...3/5 stars. 

Not the best review, but when you look at the site you'll notice that Kat is a tough critic and of the most recent reviews three stars is the highest rating.

Of course I'm thrilled that she liked my story, and I think she probably was a bit harsh on Craig's story due to the dialogue that she didn't like.  I haven't read Scarecrow yet, so I cannot comment on it, but I have read Craig's work and he's a fantastic writer.  I'm proud to share the pages with him.  Can't win 'em all.  Even considering the kind commentary about The Madness, she still only gave my novella 3/5 stars on its own, so there you have it.

I would still encourage anyone to check out the review HERE.  It's not the best we've had, but I gladly take the good with the bad.  You can't please everyone.

After reading the review, why don't you see for yourself.  Purchase S and the M HERE


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Miscellaneous Musings, Fort Mojave, Gold Mines, and Head Hopping

What do all of these things have in common?  Well, they have a lot to do with my trip to Arizona for the Thanksgiving holiday.

In a nutshell, my wife, son and I drove to Fort Mojave, Arizona to have Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle's house.  We stayed there for a few days, ate until we had to bring in the wheelbarrows to roll us out the door, and had an over all good time.  Arizona's not the place for me (too hot for most of the year), but it's such a nice change form the miserable city of San Diego I live in.

My wife and I went to Walmart on Thanksgiving night just to laugh at the crowds.  We were lucky enough to find a parking spot just as someone pulled out.  The lot was filled to capacity.  We went in.  My jaw dropped.  There were DVD displays right at the get go, all of them except one had signs advertising that they were five bucks a pop like that was a screaming deal.  That's the regular price.  There are always five dollar DVD bins at Walmart.  The one exception was a $1.99 display, which was indeed a good deal, but if you ask me, they were pulling the 'ol bait and switch, fooling the masses into thinking five clams was a good deal.  People were pulling DVDs out of there like they were going out of style. 

At this point, I closed my eyes and listened, and I could hear, faintly, the familiar bah, bah, bah-ing of sheeple.  We were herded in like cattle and I was began to feel unease set in.  I used to be violently claustrophobic, and crowds like this one tend to bring that horrible feeling of anxiety on in waves.  But back to the herds, because there were quite literally herds of people waiting for several displays that were covered by tarps, each of them with a price advertised above of 5, 10, 20, and 30 dollars, yet no one could see what was beneath the tarps.  Could have been steaming piles of dog shit and yet they lined up.  Could have been a chopping block and a man with an axe and a leather mask, and yet they lined up.  Aisles of food were closed off with caution tape behind which were the sheeple waiting for 40" flat screen televisions.  A Walmart imp-ployee was giving the herds a sticker with a number (they must have forgot the branding irons at home).  I told my wife that Walmart could have constructed a cliff that led into a pit of lava, told the sheeple that there were 40" flat screens on the other side and watched them all leap to their death like lemmings.  If I hadn't been so disgusted I would have stuck around to watch the heard let loose as the tarps were pulled from the merchandise.

As we waded through the crazed people all shoving electronics, DVDs, video games, overpriced cheap blanket sets and anything with an "advertised" price into their shopping carts like the stuffing in the turkey they had eaten only hours before, I was only pleased when I realized that I was going to walk out of there and leave it all behind while these foolish sheeple would have to wait in another line just to pay for their goods.  We passed the lines as we left the store and the bah, bah, bah-ing turned into "are you in line?", "is this the line?", "she just cut in front of me!", "where's the line?", and such.

On a lighter not, my wife and I went into a town called Nelson to see a gold mine.  It was a great tour.  I learned a lot about how gold was mined at the turn of the century.  Real old west stuff: murder, crooked sheriffs, lowering donkeys in the caverns, cowboys and Indians.  There's a lot of history in Nelson, and they're doing a great job of preserving it.  Up the road a bit is Penis Valley... Well, that's not the official name, but if you go there you'll know why it has been dubbed as such.  Rock formations straight out of an HR Giger painting.  Got a good laugh.

Now, onto the head hopping I mention in the title.  It's something I'll have to open up a discussion about on a forum at some point in the future.  I'm current;y reading Rick Hautala's novel Moon Walker and I can't help but notice the abundant head hopping.  I know it was written that way on purpose, but I've been taught that head hopping is evil and should never be done, yet that is the way this book is written.  It doesn't bother me at all.  I think it works rather well, but I have to wonder what all those people who advocate against head hopping would think if they were to--or have--read this book.  What makes it work is that Rick is consistent, and I suppose it's an omniscient point of view, but I can't help but wonder what the consensus is about this style of writing.  I'm half way through.  It's a good book and it's getting better and better.  I'm a very slow reader and I usually have my nose in three or four books at one time, but I'll post a review of Moon Walker when I'm finished.

That's all for now.  Hope all my American brothers and sisters had a great Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sludge Factory

How's that for a title?  My latest piece of writing came out like something produced from a sludge factory, and I was foolish enough to submit it as a contest entry.  Idiot!  (For the record, I have no idea what a sludge factory is.  It's the title of an Alice in Chains song.)

So, my story entry in the Cafe Doom contest was an epic failure for multiple reasons.  Bad writing, embarrassing typos, a tentacled monster (I'm not even a fan of tentacled monsters!), and a rough plot.  It was essentially a first draft.  Yes, I'd gone over the story once or twice, but I didn't allow enough time to pass between edits and I was too eager to get it done and submitted to the contest.  Yet, somehow, one person found it to be the best story of the bunch... Go figure.  Perhaps that person misunderstood the guidelines and voted for the three worst instead of the three best.

The story is good , it just needs the proper attention.  I think I'm also going to reverse the roles of my characters, and the monster is going to be of my own creation rather than rehashing the tentacles of Lovecraftian lore.  I like Lovecraft, but never was a big fan of the tentacled monsters--that's a subject for another blog (because I really believe his horror tales outside of the Cthulhu Mythos were far superior).

The story will live again and be better off for the comments some folks made during the competition, and I very much appreciate the feedback.  It helped out a lot.

I've got to get the hell out of this sludge factory!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Contest Winner!

There wasn't as much response to my banner contest as I would have liked.  Perhaps asking people to place a banner on their blog or website was too invasive.  I began to notice that most people don't carry banner on their site like I do.  I also must admit that I didn't promote this contest as much as I should have.  I'm a terrible self promoter.

However, there is a winner: Ken Cain!

Thanks for the support, Ken.  I will email you about getting your address for your free book.  I hope you dig it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Contest for...

...A PDF copy of Scarecrow and the Madness.  Thing is, I haven't worked out the details yet.  This will be a simple contest that will have to do with posting an amazon link to the book on one's facebook page, twitter, or favorite forum.

I'll post the details here and on facebook, etc. Sunday the 13th.  My banner contest didn't do so well, but there will be a winner, after which this contest will begin.  I'm hoping there will be more interest if the contest is a but simpler.  I've noticed, by monitoring other contests out there, that in cases with bigger names and autographs there are often times only a dozen entries.  I guess people aren't as enthusiastic about contests as I am.  You can't beat free.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Rain, Rain, Reign!

It's raining like crazy here in San Diego.  I love it!  There's snow in the local mountains.  I enjoy hearing nature all around me, each drop of rain a tiny soldier in a torrential downpour attacking the world around me.  Cars crash.  Lots of cars crash here in San Diego.  We don't know what to do when there isn't sun in the sky--that and a lot of people lack common sense.  I saw cars today on the sides of the freeways and had to wonder just how they got so twisted around facing such unnatural directions considering the flow of traffic.  I drove from one side of San Diego to the other without incident.

I like rain.  I think it's going to be a good, wet winter here in southern California.  I hope so.  We can always use rain.  the few lakes we have in this part of Cali are drying up.

Haven't written much in the past few days.  I have been dealing with a lot of BS concerning a house my wife and I put an offer on.  It's bank owned, which can be problematic.  The banks fucked up in the last decade and now us responsible people have to pay for it.  But the real reason the house turned out to be a flop was due to a shared well that has been so notoriously polluted in the past decade that it gained national news.  On a scale of 1-10 the drinkability (is that even a word?) of the water is a 1!  Heavy metals and chloroform have been found in dangerous amounts, and several children became sick due to e coli several years ago.  I'm not willing to take that kind of risk.

My story in the Cafe Doom contest isn't doing so well.  I have managed to get a nice placement from one of the other contestants (each contestant has to read all the stories and post their top three favorites), but I started reading my own story when I got to it and was shocked at some rookie typos.  I made the mistake of submitting a story that was too new.  Hadn't gone through the proper editing process.  Damn foolish of me.  Live and learn...

I think I'll work on the final edits for People of the Ethereal Realm tonight.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dream House -- Horror or Psych-Thriller?

Just got back from my one and only public movie theater experience for this year, which just so happened to be the viewing of the film "Dream House".  Not because I've been desperately looking forward to this film, but because my wife and I have had four free movie tickets for over a year now and decided to use two of them.  I'm not a big fan of seeing movies in the movie theater, but that's a subject for another post.  Tonight wasn't such a bad movie viewing experience, but I have to wonder why people don't just shut the fuck up and watch the damn film!

As far as the movie goes, quite simply put: I liked it.  I don't recall the commercials, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't quite as much a horror film as I had hoped.  That being said, it does have plenty of horrific elements, thought I would better classify this film as a psychological thriller.

The movie pulled me in pretty quickly with some suspenseful techniques that have perhaps been overused, which is the biggest flaw this film has.  One of the major plot twists is something that, though I will not give it away here, I have seen enough times to have caused a mental sigh as it played out on screen.  But, it was more of a minor note rather than the big finale most other films would make of such a twist, and for that it served its purpose to drive the film forward, after which it flowed very nicely to the end, allowing the viewer's mind to try and figure out what really happened.

Being a thriller, I thought I had it figured out halfway through, but I was wrong.  Once again falling victim to what the film sets the viewer up to think, which causes the real twist more of a desired effect. 

I give "Dream House" 4/5 stars, and that's a weak four.  The movie was done well, but it could have benefited from more creativity and less cliche.  I can't help but feel like the big twist in the middle (if you've seen the film you know what I'm speaking of, I'm sure) has become overused, and that alone haunts me in the wrong ways.  Maybe it's a 3.5 and I'm being too generous.  Not sure.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Current WIP, the Future of Through the Eyes 2, What's Up with People of the Ethereal Realm, and More.

How's that for a title?

So, as most if not all of you have heard, Twisted Library Press has cancelled all of their anthologies with the exception of the three that are completed and ready for publication.  The decision was due to economic strife and was necessary for the Library to remain.  A smart decision if you ask me, but the most difficult for Dr. Pus to make since he began publishing books.  This means Through the Eyes of the Undead 2 has been cancelled.  I have already notified the authors.  The good news in all this is that there were three new releases from the Twisted Library Press this month and more to come in the future.  The focus, for now at least, will be the three remaining anthologies and full length novels.  The Twisted Library is not dead, just scaling back and taking on a more sensible business plan.  Though so many of us were affected in one way or the other, I know it was the right thing for Doc to do.

As far as People of the Ethereal Realm goes (a future Twisted Library release), I was just emailed the final edits to go over, and then my editor will give the book one more read through for typos and to make sure it's nice and clean before being submitted to Mr. Tucker to be formatted.  The cover art is finished.  Has been for a few months, but I have elected not to share it yet.  I will, but I thought I would wait until the book was closer to release.  It's one kick ass cover.

And the current WIP... This is one hell of a nasty ride.  Cruelty, violence, madness, and clinging to the most tender of memories to keep one's self together.  This one is writing itself.  I was averaging about 2K words a day on it, but I had to slow it down due to the enormous amount of paperwork and time the process of buying a house eats up.  My wife and I have been jumping through hoops laced with dripping acid and ablaze with fire.  But it will be well worth it once we get into the house...just so long as there are no problems with inspections...

Anyway, the new story has had a title change.  It began as "That Sinking Feeling" and now, after listening to Sepultura on my ipod at work lately, it is called "Stronger Than Hate".  This is a far superior title for this nasty tale, and I think it represents all six of my primary characters in one way or the other.

Well, I'm going to hit the keys and try for 2K today.  So, what happened to all the business about not looking at word counts that I had been touting the entire time I wrote my last book?  Not sure.  I like to write them in whatever way they want to be written, and this one insists that I keep a keen eye on my word count.  Go figure.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Brief Rant

I was going to post this on facebook, but then I realized that I don't go to facebook to read rants like this.  Sure, there are plenty of them on there, and sometimes I take a moment to read them, but I decided that it isn't what I go there for, and so, rather than be a hypocrite, I decided to post it here.  I wrote this because of so many posts I read day in and day out (well, a few times a week.  I don't go to facebook daily).  Some people are just so adamant that they are right, but are they?  This isn't directed toward anyone in particular, in fact it's directed toward myself as much as anyone else.  And really, it's just a rant and nothing more. 


It's interesting to see how passionate people get about political issues.  On either side of the fence so many people think they are absolutely correct in their convictions to the point, in my opinion, of default.  Sure, I am passionate about my opinions, but I always leave room to hear the opposing views.  Cutting out the opposing views and labeling them negatively without even hearing them out is foolish; it's a monologue.  Justified "change" can only come from passionate dialogue, where all views are mulled over and discussed.  A fight may break out.  So be it.  That's life.  But in the end, a weaving of thoughts and ideas may create one cohesive agreement amongst those involved in the dialogue...and still there will be those outside of the dialogue who disagree.  That's life.  We will never agree with one another 100% of the time.  That's impossible unless people are brainwashed or terrified for their lives.  Accept it and move on.  Agree to disagree.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A New WIP: That Sinking Feeling

"The Dude abides."
                     --The Dude

My new work in progress is called "That Sinking Feeling".  I began this story back in February or March after hearing a news story about a woman in Florida falling into a sinkhole in her garden.  The hole was something like seven feet deep and she was in there for a few hours before someone discovered her.  That got me thinking about the disastrous possibilities of someone evil making the discovery of an older woman in such a precarious situation.

I had written the beginning of what was supposed to be a short story up to the point where Francine, my protagonist, is discovered in the sinkhole by her neighbor, but I was also working on my second novel and reading for Through the Eyes of the Undead 2, and so I filed the makings of "That Sinking Feeling" into the Works in Progress folder.

I looked at it once or twice, but didn't get shocked with inspiration.  Not until I finished my second novel, edited several TtEotU 2 stories and saw some of the degradation of the Wall Street protesters.  Defecating on a police car, public sex, lost fools wandering in for the cheap drugs and free food in a particularly unsavory New York park.  People making ridiculous and unreasonable demands.  I found the people who were to come across Francine.  I've seen their faces on the TV and heard their screwy blather on the radio.

What was supposed to be a short story is turning into something that will likely become novella sized.  This wasn't the next long story I had planned to work on, but when the muse strikes, it is wise to abide.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scarecrow and The Madness contest

Win a free copy of Scarecrow and The Madness, one of Blood Bound Books' latest releases featuring two novellas from Craig Saunders and Robert Essig.

It costs nothing to enter and is open to anyone anywhere around the globe.

Here's the skinny:

To enter, all you have to do is place one of the banners listed below on your website or blog.  This can be your personal blog, your publishing company's website, whatever.  That doesn't matter to me.  If you do not have a blog or website, then you can post a link to the amazon listing for S and the M on facebook, twitter, or whatever social network you prefer. Here is the amazon link: (For those of you who post the banner, I would appreciate it if you could link it to the amazon listing, thought this is not a requirement for the contest.)  After posting the banner or amazon link you will have to email me a link to your website, facebook, etc. HERE, for me to verify and enter you into the contest.  Please include your name, pen name, or forum pseudonym.

The contest will end on Sunday Nov. 13th.  I will write the names of those who enter on pieces of paper and have my son choose one from a hat, after which the winner will be announced and contacted for an address to ship the book to.

Here are the banners:

For the above banner, copy and paste this HTML:

<a href=""><iframe src="" width="435" height="75" frameborder="0"></iframe></a>

For the above banner copy and paste the HTML below, or right click it to save in your pictures and post it that way.

<a href="" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="51" src="" width="400" /></a>

If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Thanks in advance for your support.  Good luck!

Friday, October 7, 2011

1st Draft of my Second Novel -- FINISHED!

That's right!  I finally finished the first draft of my second novel tentatively titled Through the In Between, Hell Awaits.  It's such a great feeling to type that single word concluding months of work: 'end', though it is far from over.  I'll sit on it for a month or two while I finish editing Through the Eyes of the Undead 2 and write some short stories and two novellas I have been outlining.  I have to be sure this novel is the furthest thing from my mind before I begin the re-writes.  I like to have fresh eyes when I begin editing novel length work.

I did two new things this time that I have never done before with my first novel or the four novellas I have written.  For one, I didn't look at the word count once.  I was so eager to see how many words the book ended up as, that I checked the word count about .000001 seconds after typing 'end'.  88K words.  400 double spaced pages.  Not too bad considering my debut novel was about 70K words.  I was shooting for about 90K, so I am very pleased with the way things turned out.  The other method I tried that contradicts the way I write large works was that I didn't take any notes.  Not one.  Let me tell you, that's something I will never do again.  Notes are such a great reference while writing a novella or novel.  At times I had to scroll through the pages looking for a name or description, something that would have been included in my notes and easy to find had I been taking notes.  Now, when I do the re-writes, I will have to take the notes I should have been taking as I wrote the book.  I'll always take notes from her on out, but I think I will continue ignore the word count.  I truly find the obsession with word counts to be distracting.  I don't base my progress on word counts like so many writers do.  I find working without keeping track of the word count is far more beneficial. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hot Air and Strange Odors Part 3 (The Conclusion)

Erin walked through the door as she did every night, following the man in the black tattered clothes she had seen repair themselves right before her eyes.  He stood slightly hunched and looked worse than Boris Karloff in The Mummy.

He had stopped talking to her from his lips three days ago opting for telepathy.  She knew what he was going to ask of her.  She could tell by the sick smile playing upon his cracked lips and the fullness of his gray cataract eyes.

I need another soul.  Go get me one-a woman.  Try and be quick.

"No." Erin said simply.

His smile faltered.

"What did you say?" He hissed.

She thought he was too weak to speak aloud.

"I'm done with you...whatever you are.  I will not get you another victim, and I will not stay in that Godforsaken room any longer."

She was trying to be tough and aggressive, finding it hard to deal with the arctic chill in the house.  There must have been an air conditioner in every room to make it that cold.

"You will do as I say.  You will go out and bring someone back here to me.  Do you understand?"


Erin reached for the knife block on the kitchen table selecting the largest one.  She ran toward her captor with rage in her eyes and fury in her heart.

"You're weak!  You're old and rotting and I'm going to kill you!"

Holding the knife above her head she rushed him.  He cackled a bustling laugh as the blade, right along with her hand, went through his body as if he were nothing more than a projected image.

"You stupid bitch!  You can't kill me."

"But you're dying.  Your body is deteriorating."

"I'm already dead, my dear, I'm just surviving.  You see, I don't want to meet my maker."

"Your a..."

His relentless eyes stared at her like a cognizant zombie.  He tried to intimidate her, but his powers and spiritual guile had become useless.

"You need them, you need them to survive," she mused more to herself than the ghoul.

"If you want to live than you had better go and bring someone back here.  If you don't, I will kill you and take your soul."

"I wont.  I'm just going to leave and return with the police."

"The police," he laughed.  "What are they going to do?"

Erin just shook her head, turned, and headed for the front door.  As she reached for the handle, she saw and heard the deadbolt lock.

"You're not going anywhere," his voice rang out from behind her.

She attempted to unlock the door but was unable to.


"I guess I will have to kill you and take your soul.  I can find another as weak minded as you have been to serve me, I can even use your house after you're dead."

Erin darted down the hallway toward the master bedroom, but before she could get there, the hall runner rug was pulled from beneath her feet bringing her flat on her back.

"Don't think you can get away.  After all, you've been trapped in your own house for over a year."

But he can't use his spells anymore, you broke free of that, and now you have to break free of this house.

He stood in the living room next to the kitchen, staring down at her on the floor of the hallway.  He was decrepit and rotting more by the minute, hunched over and palsied, hair white, lips cracking, the skin on his face drooping.  To die is the way of all flesh and this roaming soul was rapidly losing his consistency.  He needs a soul to refresh his own dying soul to save himself another week from Hell.

"How much do you have left in you?" Erin asked.

"More than you might think."

The door to the master bedroom suddenly slammed shut.  The sconces on either side of the hallway detached from the walls and flung themselves toward Erin.  She moved just in time to avoid being hit.

She walked back into the living room never taking her eyes off her captor.  Above, the chain holding the chandelier to the ceiling snapped dropping the large light fixture to the ground.  Erin jumped out of the way just in time.  She should have expected that.

Despite sweating from the action of fighting off light fixtures, the house was sub-arctic.  The sweat running down her face and under her armpits felt sticky and unnatural in the cold.

Maybe the cool air acted as a preservative and just as vital as the souls.

There was only one way to find out.

Erin calmly walked across the room toward the front door.

"You don't think I would let you get out that easy, do you?"

"No," she said quietly as she turned the other air conditioner off, the one that her husband had put in the living room four years ago.

It switched back on.

She turned it off.

Back on.

Next to the front door leaned a baseball bat, a half-assed burglar deterrent.  She grabbed the bat with finesse, turned, and let her rage out.  After five or six good whacks, the air conditioner gave a sigh and shut down.

Bitch! he screamed in her mind.  He hobbled a few steps forward then stopped, realizing that his once human emotion was getting the better of him.  He was angry but he had wiles.

Like bullets, the set of knives in the wooden block on the kitchen counter unsheathed themselves and flew through the air toward Erin.  Screaming, she hit the floor.  One knife pinned her arm to the front door; the rest embedded themselves in a series of thuds.

Gritting her teeth, she wiggled the knife freeing her arm.  Wasting no time, she ran toward the ghost with the bat above her head.  She knew she couldn't harm his image, but what could harm him was in the wall behind him.  Erin swung the bat down like a sledgehammer right through his ghostly form making contact with the air conditioner.  The bat broke in half and the air conditioner kept blowing cold air.

In the front door, the knives were shaking and trying to free themselves from their embedment in the wood.  His power was weakening.

I need your soul, he whispered into her mind.

He looked into her eyes, and for a moment she was frightened.  It was difficult for her to think of him as inanimate, but if he could grab her, he would have killed her by now.

From the kitchen, a broom swatted her across the head.  Miscellaneous items of food and dishes were throwing themselves at her but his power had weakened and the items were small and nearly useless.  Drawers opened and flung themselves onto the linoleum floor and that's when she saw the scissors.

But he saw them first.

Risen from the mess on the floor, the scissors flew toward Erin's face.  She swatted them away with her hand just as the scissors snipped taking one of her fingers off.  She screamed and swatted as the scissors came after her again.  All but leaping to the floor, pinning the animated scissors to the ground, she stifled their movement.

Items of equal danger began to swat her body-steak knives, butter knives, a pizza cutter-all inflicting minute slices and slashes.

Now in control of the scissors, Erin wasted no time defending herself from the onslaught of kitchenware before cutting the chord to the air conditioner.

"Noooo!  Stop it!" yelled the weakening ghost.  She could feel the weight of the knives and spoons decrease as his power weakened from the loss of his deathly preservative.

"You don't stand a fucking chance."  She spat the words in his face, then went from room to room cutting the wires of any other air conditioners she saw, three more in all.

It was in the last room, the den, when she saw him lurching in the doorway, a mere waste of rotten flesh hanging from his skeleton.  He was an alarming image that seemed too real to be of spiritual origin.

"Do you remember this room?" he asked her.

"No," she said calmly.  For the first time she felt under control.

"You don't remember what's in the closet?"

She looked at the closet door.  It was an old house so the closets still had regular doors rather than sliders.  She looked at the door trying to elicit any memories, but nothing was there.  Even memories from her life before her slavery were defunct in this room.

"You've sent me to Hell.  I should have been more cautious."  His words were a low guttural growl.

The knob on the closet door turned; the door began to creek as it opened.

"But I won't let you win."  He smiled, his body falling to the ground as to reserve the last vestiges of his spiritual powers.  He had one last haunt.  One that he hoped would completely twist her mind.

Erin's attention was diverted from the failed ghost wasted and rotting on the floor to a delicate voice in the closet.  She shook her head from side to side.  What she was seeing couldn't be there, but it was.  She closed her eyes and opened them several times to banish the sight to no avail.

Jade and Christopher were in there; they were mutilated and staring at her.

"Why, mommy," her daughter said placidly.  "Why did you kill us?"

As the fiendish ghoul's body became a pool of ectoplasmic matter, he laughed as he was sent to Hell.  Erin broke down as she realized that he had used their souls to prolong his miserable existence.

She screamed and yelled until her voice was hoarse and raspy, wondering one thing as the image of her murdered husband and daughter faded:

Did he make me eat them?


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Check Out My New Banner

I made this banner for Scarecrow and The Madness with a free on-line generator and I don't think it turned out too bad.  I'm working on one that's a little bigger and I may mess around with the imagery a bit more.  I'm also trying to make one that doesn't cut the bottom off without paying money to hide the add for Banner Snack (though I would urge you to use them if you don't know what you're doing, 'cause I'm clueless and I really like what I made).

What do you think?

Once I have a few different banners I am going to have a contest for a free copy of Scarecrow and The Madness.  Look for details in the next week or so.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why Re-Make My Favorite Horror Films, Damn You?

Last week my wife and I watched the re-make of A Nightmare on Elm Street.  We were getting all the pay movie channels for free and it came on, so we thought "what the hell" and watched.  It was beyond terrible, as most re-makes are and have been for quite some time, which makes me wonder just why people find it in their best interest to re-make classic horror films.

Here is a list of films I think never should have been re-made.  This is very self indulgent and I know a lot of people disagree with me, especially those who are younger than me.  I grew up in the VHS generation where all the old horror films were just a video store away.  I watched the originals, even if it was filmed before my parents had even gotten together much less had the glimmer of a thought to create me.  Thing is, some films are great they way they are, even if they were filmed as far back as the thirties (though I would have to agree that most films before the 50s could use some updating). Here's the list of films that should never have been re-made:

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Haunting
Friday the 13th
The House of Wax
Dawn of the Dead
Night of the Living Dead
Day of the Dead
The Hitcher
The Amityville Horror
Carnival of Souls
House on Haunted Hill
The Omen
The Shining
Fright Night
13 Ghosts
The Hills Have Eyes
The Lost Boys

Those are off the top of my head, and with a little help from a website with a list of re-makes.  Of course, I only list movies I'm familiar with.  For instance, I saw the re-make of My Bloody Valentine, but had never seen the original.  Not a big slasher film fan, and they were a dime a dozen in the 80s.

Those films are great the way they are.  Some of them may be a little dated, but not enough to constitute a re-make.  Not in my eyes at least.  Some would argue that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed on such a low budget with such poor film stock and sound that it's too hard for young people to watch.  I say bullshit.  It's that documentary-like film quality and sound that creates the atmosphere in that film and makes it so scary.  Some would argue that 13 Ghosts and House on Haunted Hill are too schticky and should be made into more serious films.  I suppose that's in the eye of the Beholder.  But the re-makes were terrible, as most re-makes are. 

But there are anomalies.  Here's a list of films that were justifiably to be re-made, in my opinion:

The Fly
The Thing
Last House on the Left
The Crazies
The Mummy
The Wolfman
Phantom of the Opera
The Wicker Man

I like the originals of most if not all of these films, however I can see good reason for either updating or re-making them better, though most often the re-makes are terrible.  I think The Fly is the greatest re-make ever.  David Cronenberg knew what he was doing, and he did it right.  I also like the Crazies re-make because the original was such tripe.  Now, when it comes to The Last House on the Left and The Wicker Man, I am a huge fan of both the originals and couldn't care less about the re-makes, but I can see how the films were do for some renovations.  Both of them have rather terrible scores, and LHotL has some very poor acting.  I also think The Wicker Man could have been truly frightening, but some of the ritualistic behavior in the original was laughable at best.

So, what's next?  What gem will be re-made to take advantage of the 3D boom we're living through?(Don't get me started there.  This new 3D is crap if you ask me.)  I don't know, but I can tell you that for the most part I'll be disappointed.  Filmmakers should stopcashing out re-making a film due to its popularity and dig into some of the great plots from the 50s and beyond that are outdated.  Start with Bowery After Midnight.  It's a Lugosi classic, but it's outdated and would make for a frightening film set in the the present day.  Sure, people will think it's an original because the name isn't well known like, say, Jaws or The Exorcist, or, I don't know, A Nightmare on Elm Street!  But someone should give that train of thought a chance and see where it goes.  May be a goldmine there not only for profits, but good horror films as well.

But God forbid, don't touch Freaks!  That film is old but perfect the way it is.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finished Two Stories This Week

Finishing a story is always a great feeling.  I haven't been writing shorts as much as I used to.  I seem to get one out here and there, usually when I have an idea that won't let go, and I plow through it in a few days without working much on anything else.  Thing is, my Works in Progress folder is becoming inundated with stories that are started and rarely finished.  Sometimes it seems as if I lose steam when I don't finish a story during the session in which I begun it.  The glimmer that drew me in leaves and I just don't see the potential any longer.  Sometimes I troll through that graveyard and finish one of the stories, but many of them have been lying dormant for quite some time.  Some are plain out useless.  Others are downright foolish.

Sure felt good to finish two this week.  One I wrote in two days, and the other I had started a few weeks ago for a specific anthology.  I'll have to re-read the guidelines, because the story ended up pretty brutal.  On top of that, I made some good progress on the final scene of my second novel, of which I had become frustrated with.  I've also begun to edit stories for Through the eyes of the Undead 2.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hot Air and Strange Odors Part 2

Erin thought that her captor had used the brass candelabra on the biker, but he was on the other side of the room grinning.  He rushed from where he watched the biker collapse and knelt on the ground before him near a growing pool of blood on the carpet from his damaged head.

The ghoulish stranger looked up at Erin and spoke to her in the same odd manner as before without moving his lips, like some absurd ventriloquist.  You have to strangle him, he's not dead yet.

What!  You're crazy!  Before Erin's words were finished ringing in her head, her hands were clasped around the biker's thick neck squeezing as tight as they could.

Yes, the ghoul said as he hovered over the biker's body.  Just a little bit more, he's almost there.

Erin watched her captor through eyes that were of two minds.  Her body was probably watching the biker to make sure he was dead, but she was bearing witness to another spectacle.  Her captor's milky eyes rolled into the back of his head as his mouth and nostrils opened unnaturally wide.  His sickly body began to shiver and tremble in his ragged clothes.  His cracked lips began to fill in, the lines on his face fading, his white hair thickening, now vibrant and black.  Not only did his body grow younger, but his clothes began to repair themselves of rips and tears.

As his eyes rolled back in place, now green and life-like, his smile faded.

"What are you looking at?"  He spoke from his mouth this time.  "I told you before never to watch me!"

He stood from the biker's corpse.  There was a look of suspicion on his face, of untrustworthiness, of ill contempt.

"What are you staring at?  Get him into the kitchen."

Erin's body grabbed the biker by his feet and began tugging his corpse toward the kitchen.  Erin screamed and pleaded but no one, including her own body, could hear her calls.  Why wasn't he at least helping her carry the bastard's body?

After she managed to drag the body into the kitchen, she began to strip it of clothing.  Her body then took a filet knife disemboweling him right there on the linoleum floor.  Erin screamed and cried in her mind, did everything she could think to stop her body from cutting the man to pieces, but nothing worked.

With a cleaver, his head was severed and tossed in a garbage pail.  His genitals were discarded along with the organs, at which point Erin's body took the filet knife and skinned him.

The problem with Erin being trapped inside her body's unconscious was that she couldn't close her eyes; she was forced to watch this grizzly slaughter.

Her body skinned him with a precision only experience could account for, and then, with equal measure, her body cut his cadaver up like a butcher.  Some of his body went into the freezer, some in the refrigerator and...

Oh God!

Erin watched as her hands rubbed seasoning on a rack of his ribs.  There was a sense of normalcy to what her body was doing, a sense of knowledge.  The act of butchering the biker was as nonchalant as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Her hand turned the oven on, and a few moments later the rack of ribs went in.

I can't eat that!  There's no way I can eat that!

Little did she know (and slowly she was suspecting) that she had, in fact, been eating people ever since her capture.  Though she may have eaten human flesh under a trance, she could not allow herself to do so knowingly.

As the food (if that's what it could be called) was cooking, Erin discovered how her toilet bucket was changed and how her water was refilled. 

All this time she was her own maid and didn't even know it.

Her captor hid in the shadows the entire time.  She had the feeling that he was watching her, but she didn't see him anywhere.  Maybe he was enjoying his restored body.  Perhaps he enjoyed watching her bizarre ritual of eating his victims.

With the five-gallon bucket back in her hot stinking room, and the bottle of water filled and in its appropriate place, her body opened the oven and pulled out dinner.

The smell was like rotten lamb and as many other mysteries were revealed, so was the strange odor that seemed to have permeated the air conditioner.

The ribs were placed on a carving board.  Erin's hand then took a knife and cut them individually.  To her dismay, she grabbed an individual rib and brought it to her mouth.  Her mouth took a bite and began chewing.  The meat tasted gamy, and though her mouth kept chewing, she had a gag reflex, vomiting what little was in her stomach on to the floor.

"NOOOOOO!" she screamed spitting the taste from her mouth before turning for the faucet and pouring herself a glass of water.  She drank greedily before realizing that she was now in control of her body.  She was drinking the water.

Her captor returned from wherever he had been residing.  His expression was that of worry.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"What the hell have you been doing to me?  Where's my family?  What did you do with them?"

"So you woke up.  Odd."

He walked slowly toward her, staring with green eyes like lurid gems set in his eye sockets.

"You will go back into your room.  Now!" he commanded.

"No!  Where's my family?"

The door swung open by itself.  Erin could feel the stifling heat from the room on her back.  As he drew closer, she took a step backwards, and then another.  He made a gesture with his hands like he was going to push her, and without touching her she was flung into her cell.  The door slammed shut locking her in.

She screamed and yelled pounding on the door.  She screamed for her husband and for her daughter.  She pounded and kicked the walls until her fists and feet hurt, until she finally had to lie down.  In a few moments, her exhausted mind and body together fell asleep.

The next morning Erin woke hungry for the first time.  Not just hungry, but starving.  The idea that the eating of human flesh was keeping her alive made her feel sick, and worse than that was the idea that she may be damned to be the strange man's slave.

"Not if I can help it," she told the empty room. 

On this night, she fought the dreamy spell he played upon her tired brain and found herself more in control than the night before.  He, on the other hand, was apprehensive at best watching her with an eagle eye.  This night was very different from last night for he wasn't in need of a soul and the fridge was well stocked with biker meat.

In addition to her gain of control, she also found that she could submit to his spell and pardon herself from the cooking and eating of last night's kill.  She didn't want to eat the meat, but she was going to need the protein if she were going to construct a plan against her captor.

The next morning Erin woke feeling ill with the knowledge of what the faint taste in her mouth was.  It took everything she had in her not to vomit her dinner up on the floor.  She drank water and thought of her family, hoping they weren't locked in cells of their own, subject to similar cruelty.  She felt hopeless in finding them were she to escape.  If they were alive, they would have brought authorities to the house to save her.  The more she thought about it the worse she felt.

By nightfall, Erin decided that whether Jade and Christopher were dead or alive she was going to actively plot an escape from the house.  It was that or give up.

With each passing night her captor became less worried about her and eventually left her alone to cook her gruesome dinner.  She watched him closely, trying to understand his routine and planning for the night when she would revolt.  He was deteriorating, as she suspected he would.  Why this was happening to him she could only guess, but it was clear that he was becoming weaker as his physical being melted away.  It would be very soon, perhaps the next time he asked her to bring a man to the house, that she would escape.

Like every other night, she closed her mental eyes and sank into his spell allowing her body to eat without regurgitating.  She didn't like allowing herself to fall under his influence, but it beat the hell out of tasting human flesh.

One way or the other, this would be the last night that she would have to succumb to his power.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guess what's available for kindle?

Scarecrow and The Madness, that's what!

Now on kindle in the US and in the UK.

There's also a little bit of a reduction on the print price.  Now only $10.79!  You can't beat that with a rubber hose.

Also, there are new reviews on the UK site.  One on the print page, and one on the kindle page--both very favorable.  Check them out if you're on the fence about buying this book.  Look for a review shortly from Morpheus Tales.  I'll post the link when it goes live.