Wednesday, July 26, 2017

You've Been Trigger Warned

How do you feel feel when you read something that triggers you? Maybe you had a problem with addiction in the past, maybe your ex was a drunk, maybe you were severely bullied as a child, maybe you have a unique fear, or maybe you were mentally or physically abused.

Maybe, just maybe you have cared for someone with a disability, and perhaps an extreme story that features some such person in horrific situations triggers you.

I've heard the term "trigger warnings" many times but didn't really understand what it meant. I mean, I sort of understood the concept, but for whatever reason I always pictured a gun trigger and wondered what that had to do with warning an audience about potentially offensive or harmful material. Duh. Certain subject matter can trigger a negative response in people--PTSD, depression, angst.

I just received the first Amazon review for my latest novella Brothers in Blood. It was a two-star review that mentioned various reasons for disliking the story including Kyle and Lyle Morris, twin brothers, one of whom is severely mentally disabled. The reviewer called the story "offensive." Now, I can laugh that off and use it to sell the book to people who want to read offensive material, but it got me thinking. I sure didn't set out to offend. In fact, Lyle Morris, though one of the antagonists, is a character who should have caused the reader great sympathy. I certainly didn't write about a mentally disabled character for shock value or to be cruel. That's what got me thinking about trigger warnings. The reviewer was triggered. Perhaps triggered enough to leave a negative review.

And there's not much I can do about that. After all, the subtitle on Amazon says: An Extreme Psychological Horror Novella.

Fair enough warning?

Look, I'm proud of this novella. Check out the book on Amazon and read the synopsis. If it looks cool, give it a shot and let me know what you think. If you have already read it , please leave a review. I'm not begging for four and five star reviews, I want honest reviews. Like the two-star review that's starting things off.

Consider yourself warned.

You can get Brothers in Blood for your Kindle or Kindle app an Amazon,com in the US, UK, and regional Amazon sites across the world.

Remember! Brothers in Blood is available on Kindle Unlimited for FREE. You can't beat that with a dead rat.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Monthy Newsletter #5 July 2017

Welcome back to my monthly newsletter. Maybe I should call it a newsblog, yes? Before getting to the usual news, reviews, and writerly goodness, I would like to thank everyone who has purchased, borrowed on Kindle Unlimited, or otherwise supported my latest horror novella Brothers in Blood over the past month and a half. This novella has had a better opening than anything I have published. I'm not saying I can quit my day job and write full time or anything, but I can maybe buy a better bottle of whiskey and a lobster dinner. Maybe. At any rate, thanks to everyone who shared a social media post or bought the book. Page reads on Kindle Unlimited have been fantastic. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there are NO Amazon reviews. I'm not going to lose sleep over this, but if you read the novella I would greatly appreciate an honest review. Thanks!


The latest San Diego Horror Professionals anthology has been released, this time with even more SD authors than before. My offering, "Brain-Case Soiree," is a Laymon-esqu story that follows a young couple in a strained relationship who decide to explore a long abandoned asylum and find something truly unexpected. You can purchase the anthology HERE in the US and HERE in the UK.

I'm fine tuning two novels that I am sending to two particular publishers for consideration. I have also started a story that I like to call a cross between THEM! and The Descent. The idea came from a recent experience at work and a conversation with my father during a recent visit to Arizona. I've put down another novel I was working on, figuring this one is more marketable. I'll probably end up writing them both simultaneously.

 Cool Read

I'm suggesting two books this month.

The Lucky Ones Died First is the debut novella from my pal Jack Bantry. I'm not only spotlighting his book because he's a friend, but also because it's a damn fun read. It's pulp cryptid horror fiction at its best. I think of this novella as Friday the 13th but with Bigfoot rather than Jason. I was lucky enough to beta read this one and was thrilled when I heard Deadite Press picked it up. It's getting good reviews, and rightly so. Purchase it HERE.

It would be remiss of me not to highlight James Newman's Odd Man Out. I bought the paperback a few weeks ago (a different sized trade PB than what I'm used to, but fitting for a novella), and read it in two or three sittings, which is quick for me. Not only am I a slow reader, but I have a young child. 'Nuff said. Yes, Odd Man Out is socially relevant, yes I'm a fan of Newman's work (and I consider him a friend), but more importantly, this was an all encompassing read. The kind of story that truly pulls the reader in and blocks out everything, creating a visceral movie in my mind. This story made me forget that I'm a writer, and that's hard to do, as any writer will tell you. That's the kind of thing that elevates a story. Animosity still holds its place as my favorite Newman read, but this one comes in a close second. You can purchase Odd Man Out HERE.

Featured Fiction

This week I'm going to tell you a little about a story published a while back called "The Nostalgiac." This one appeared in the Post Mortem Press anthology Fear the Abyss, which featured science fiction stories with a horror bend. It was great to be published with so many talented authors such as Jack Ketchum, Harlan Ellison, Mike Arnzen, and Tim Waggoner, just to name a few. "The Nostalgiac" was an idea I dreamed up long before I was invited to this anthology. I saw a pair of intergalactic grave robbers risking radiation to claim entire graveyards on a dying Earth. I wrote half of the story and left it there, not really knowing where to go. When I was invited to submit, I knew this was my only chance. All of the other sci-fi horror stories that I'd written at that point had been published. I thought through my issues with the plot,  developed the Nostalgiac angle, and treated it very much like an episode of the Twilight Zone (the story was actually compared to TZ in a review). I think it's my best sci-fi/horror mash-up to date. You can purchase a copy of Fear the Abyss HERE.

Book and Record Acquisitions

I bought quite a few books over the last month. The Ten Little Indians paperback was a nice find at two bucks in a book store I had walked by several times but never stepped inside. I think that and The Seed were pretty much two of the only horror titles they had in the entire store outside of some Stephen King and Dean Koontz. No lie. I looked through the entire store--literature, sci-fi, and fantasy sections--no labelled horror section!--with no luck. There were a few F. Paul Wilson titles, but I already had them. I was also pleased to find a hardcover first edition of The Kill Riff on Ebay (and very affordable to boot!). Here are a few of my finds:

Closing Words

In closing, I have some reflections about life and the genre. First off, the Fourth of July came and passed. I went to the fair with my wife, mother-in-law, and son. We had a great time despite insane numbers of fair-goers. Everyone was so nice. I think that was due to the Fourth being a more family friendly day, whereas an average night at the fair consists of wading through packs of asshole teens and drunk twenty-somethings who wish they were still asshole teens.

So I was looking over my files and wondering if other writers have so much unpublished material. I'm not talking trunked stuff, but novels and novellas that are good enough for publication (or at least I think they are). I have six novels (most teetering on novella status), two novellas, and five unfinished projects. I've been reflecting on how difficult it is to break through in the biz, even on a small level. I'm convinced that networking at conventions and writing conferences is better than blindly submitting to the very few respectable publishers who actually accept submissions. Of course, talent and good stories play a part, but I keep running that quote through my head that I've heard so many masters of the genre say: "It's twenty percent talent; eighty percent luck." The numbers vary depending on who's making that particular quote, but it can be attributed to any number of bestselling authors. I've developed a few fans. They contact me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and it's surreal. I've earned compliments (mostly for my short fiction), and some harsh criticism (don't we all). I believe in my work and I know I get better with each piece of fiction I pen, whether I trunk it or attempt publication. It's a tough business, but I'm relieved when I read some of the fiction being published and find that there are some amazing authors out there. At least, for the most part, I can see why my stories get rejected, considering the competition. I've been short-listed enough to know I'm on the right path, and I've had some of the best editors in the biz say nice things about my fiction. I have to remember this when self doubt rears its ugly head. Onward and forward and all that jazz.

That last part was long winded. Thanks for reading. See you next month!