The Hardest Part

Sometimes, I wonder what the hardest part of writing might be.  I’m not sure why I do this.  Maybe I just like torturing myself.  There’s certainly evidence to support that theory.  Then again, writing is a huge part of my life.  It makes sense that it would infect my thoughts more than a little.

So what is the hardest part?  I think it’s different for everybody.  For some, it’s just sitting down and doing the work.  For others, maybe it’s finding markets for their work (though let’s be honest: if you think there aren’t enough horror markets out there, you have far too narrow an idea of horror).  A few find promotion to be a chore and a half.  For one of my friends, the hardest part appears to be sitting down and writing without chain-smoking.  For another, the hardest part appears to be success.  They really appear to hate being successful.  Weird.

But what’s the hardest part for me?  I’ll admit I have a few problems with promotion.  The gears in my brain just have a lot of trouble working that way.  Other times, it’s writers’ ticks.  My good friend Lee Thomas is usually my first reader, and not a story/book comes along where he doesn’t find some character train or turn of phrase that pops up again and again.  In Scavengers, for instance, characters kept getting sick.  It seemed the zombies weren’t dangerous becuse they could eat you so much as their presence made you lose your lunch.

If I really had to choose the hardest part of writing for me though, it would have to be improvement.  More to the point, it’s very difficult for me to improve my craft as quickly and thoroughly as I’d like.  A long time ago, I decided I wanted everything I wrote to be better than what came before it.  I made constant improvement as a writer one of my longterm goals.  That, at least, I can control to some degree, which isn’t something I can say about finding an agent or landing a book with one of the big New York publishers.  So now, every time I write I find myself constantly analyzing.  Is the prose tighter?  Are the characters deeper?  Almost always, they are, but I find I improve by inches.  There are no great leaps forward.

And this drive to improve really kicks the self-doubt up a few notches, let me tell you.  Recently, I wrote a 10,000 word novelette for an upcoming anthology.  When I landed the assignment, I thought it would be easy.  He Stepped Through was roughly the same length, took about a week to write, and was one of the best pieces I’ve written.  However, when I turned in the story two months and four aborted attempts later, I felt like I’d been in a bar fight.  Everything about writing that novelette just exhausted me.  Every sentence I had written filled me with emotions ranging from frustration to sadness to disgust.  The novelette was good–really good, the editor tells me–but I thought I could do better.

Now, I’m moving on to the rewrite of a novel.  Three months ago, I thought the book was in great shape.  Lee Thomas eviscerated it, though.  It needs a ton of work, and I’m just hoping I can fix it instead of having to scrap it.  I’ve had to do that in the past.  In fact, both Down and the upcoming Pale Horses were each written at least three times.  I’m not even talking editing/rewriting.  I mean I finished the book, thought I can do better, and started over completely from page one.

Look, I don’t know if I’ll ever land an agent or get that big book deal.  I can’t promise I’ll keep putting out books with the frequency I have been.  There’s no telling if I’ll ever be successful enough to have a ‘writing career’ in the long run.  All I can control is my writing, my craft, and my desire to constantly improve.  So that’s what I’ll be doing.  For me, it’s the hardest part, but it’s also the best part.

Posted in Dorky Me, Rants | Comments Off

LIGHTS OUT available in paperback

This just in!  My “prison attacked by vampires” novel Lights Out is now available in paperback from Deadite Press.  If you’re into rugged, grimy, brutal vampires and even think they might mix well with a population of killers, psychos, and career criminals, this could be the book for you.  Pick up a copy!

Burnham State Maximum Security Penitentiary holds the worst criminals humanity has to offer. Murderers, rapists, and others who have preyed upon humanity populate the prison, creating a food chain of violence and fear. Something lives beneath Burnham, however, and after years of waiting, it has been set free.

And it is hungry.

Now, those who call Burnham home must band together if they hope to survive. After years of being called monsters, they will face something much worse, and they will know how it feels to be prey.

Posted in Fiction, News | 3 Comments

Pale Horses… a tease

Hello, all.  Formal announcements, including release date, are forthcoming, but I have permission to reveal the cover for my next novel.  For the first time, I’ll be releasing a straight-up crime novel.  I’m very proud of it.  More info is coming, but for now you can take a look at the cover…

Posted in Fiction, News | Comments Off

The Haul. “It starts with an idea….”

Spring is here, and I’m glad to see it.  For me, it means tax time is over, the cold mornings have stopped, and I get to start thinking about taking out my motorcycle for longer rides and figuring out which conventions I’ll be able to attend.

A little while back, I decided maybe I’d combine the two.

See, about three years back, I bought my first motorcycle, The Late Late Show.  I’d been wanting one most of my life, but through a combination of finances and not wanting to give family members heart attacks, I waited.  In the three years since, I’ve spent a fair amount of time winding through the Texas hill country.  I took a weekend trip to Abilene (a tourist destination if ever there was one), but I’ve never done a looooong trip on The Late Late Show.  That’s about to change, though.

See, this September, I’ll be attending KillerCon in Las Vegas.  I’m choosing KillerCon as one of my stops for several reasons: it’s affordable, it’s a great excuse to go to Vegas for a weekend, and it’ll make for a great ride.

My plan is to take four days to get there and four days to get back.  I’ll get to see The Very Large Array and The Petrified Forest.  I’ll roll over Hoover Dam.  I’ll be making nightly stops along the way, and I’ll be updating my progress here.  This will be my longest trip on two wheels, and I plan to share it with you.  In the meantime, I’ll share some of my preparations.  It’ll be fun. 

It starts with an idea.  This is mine.  Hope you’ll all be along for the ride.

Posted in News, Out and About, The Haul | Comments Off

The Pale Man now available!

The Pale Man, a Sam Truman Mystery is now available as an ebook for the princely sum of $2.  This is a creepy, strange little novella about private investigators, a housing project set for demolition, a family heirloom, and a lot of terrible, terrible things.  Check it out.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Posted in Fiction, News | Comments Off

Sam Truman: The Pale Man

On March 1st, Abattoir Press will release my new novella The Pale Man, which I wrote as an episode of their ongoing series starring private eye Sam Truman.  IMPORTANT: this is a stand-alone story.  You don’t need to read the first four in order to enjoy it.

When a mysterious woman hires Sam Truman to find both her brother and a family heirloom known as The Pale Man, Sam is grateful for the money.  So grateful, in fact, that he’s willing to enter The Phillips-Rogers Project, a tenement known for its hellish conditions and abundant crime, in order to find them.  What he finds inside The PR, however, is something horrible and not of this world.  Nightmares wait inside The Phillips-Rogers Project, and The Pale Man holds the key.

The Pale Man will be released on its own as an ebook in March, and in a paperback omnibus edition with episodes four and six later this year.

Posted in Old Broadcasts | Comments Off

Down ebook and other updates

Happy Tuesday, folks.  It is with great pleasure that I announce the Kindle edition of my latest novel Down is now available.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m incredibly proud of this book, and it’s probably my favorite of those I’ve written.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  It’s a little different and a little weird, but it’s horror through and through.

I updated the bookstore.  Everything I have available should be listed there now.  So if you’re looking for something of mine, check there.

It was recently announced that my Battle of Thermopylae-set story “Immortals” will be in the upcoming anthology Zombies: Shambling through History, which should be available in August from Prime Books.

In other news, there have been talks of releasing both Lights Out and He Stepped Through in affordable paperback and Kindle editions this year.  I also have a novella coming to Abattoir Press’ Sam Truman Mysteries and another release from Sinister Grin Press planned for later this year.  No release dates yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I know.

Posted in Fiction, News | Comments Off

Red Sky: Novel of the Year

German genre magazine Virus has named Red Sky Novel of the Year! Thank you very much to Virus, my German publisher Festa-Verlag, and all of my readers in Germany and all of Europe.  You’re all amazing.

And now…I celebrate.

Posted in Fiction, News | 2 Comments

Red Sky now available in paperback!

That’s right, my novel about a bank heist gone wrong, an abandoned factory in the desert, and the horrible things that happen there is now available as a paperback.

Amazon currently lists the book as “temporarily out of stoc” because it was uploaded recently, but there ARE copies available.

Thanks to Deadite for releasing Red Sky in an affordable version, and thanks to Alan Clark for a great cover! Stay tuned for further Deadite releases!

Posted in Old Broadcasts | Comments Off

Your Christmas time book update

December is here, and the Christmas shopping season is upon us. That means it’s high time I told you what I have available, what’s coming out soon, and where to get it.

Down is currently available as a trade paperback.  I’m told the ebook is on its way, but I don’t know if it will be out in time for Christmas.  This novel, about a rock band that crashes in a forest full of surprises both terrifying and a little surreal, was recently given a glowing review by Black Static.  It’s a little different than my other books, and I’m very, very proud of it.

Scavengers, the prose adaptation of my zombie graphic novel A Trip to Rundberg, is currently available as a paperback and for kindle. The kindle edition is currently available for one dollar.

Just Like Hell, by far the most hardcore of my books, is available as a paperback and for both kindle and nook.  It contains four bonus short stories.

Red Sky, a novel about a bank heist gone wrong, an abandoned factory, and the strange mutated things that live there, should be available in paperback from Deadite Press before Christmas. If you can’t wait, the ebook is avilable now.

He Stepped Through, which I’ve described as the Lovecraftion episode of The Shield, can be found used on Amazon.  It’s quick, but it’s a damn good read.

Posted in Entertainment, Fiction | 3 Comments