Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013: A Year in Writing

2013 was my first full year as a writer.  I have written in the past and actually had my first short story published in 2011.  I did write a great deal in 2012, but also had a few months where I wasn’t so disciplined.  2013 is definitely my first real year in terms of publishing, though.  

In many ways, I’m awe of what I did accomplish.  In other ways, I wished I had been more disciplined.  While I didn’t write (or do something significantly related to writing) everyday, I rarely missed writing for more than two days in a row and kept my output consistent.  

In terms of numbers, here’s my output:
  • 1 Novel
  • 2 Novellas
  • 10 Short Stories Published or Accepted for Publication

I gave away over a 1,000 ebooks in 2013 and sold nearly 200.  If if I had to do a final accounting of my revenue versus expenditures, I’d still be in the red.  (Editing and promotion cost money.)  Obviously, I’d like to see sales increase.  That, I hope, will come in time as I get more books out there.  

I think I’m becoming both a better writer and a more efficient writer.  I have altered my style somewhat to better suit the needs and desires of my readers.  That took some adjustment.

As for 2014, I have some very ambitious goals.

My sequel to Sanctuary from the Dead should come out sometime in late January or early February.  I plan to release a collection of my short stories early in the year, too.

I’m still outlining the third book in my “Forget the Zombies” series and want to have that one out by April or May.  I’ve had more than a few people eager to see this last book in the series.  

After getting through that, I want to get out the third and fourth books of the Books of the Dead series.

Here’s hoping that 2014 allows me to keep bringing the words!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cover Design Fun

A couple of my author friends at J. Ellington Ashton Press were in need of help with their covers.  I don't consider myself a great designer, but I've done all my own covers, so I thought I would help them out.

Contained Decay is a zombie tale by T.L. Decay.  It starts with an outbreak at the Bedford Institute, asylum for the criminally insane.  It starts out hot and just gets hotter as the zombies starting eating their way though the town.

The first cover was great and I only hoped I could do it credit.  After getting some input from our publisher, I took it the cover in a totally different direction.  The first one accentuated supernatural elements, but I went with a more natural, yet terrifying opponent.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Carrie vs. Carrie vs Carrie

I recently went on a unique odyssey of consuming Stephen King's "Carrie" in three different formats and thought I would share my experience.

Carrie - the book
But before I get to that, let me tell you what "Carrie" means to me.  "Carrie" could be one of the biggest contributing factors to me being a writer today.  I was first exposed to "Carrie" when a friend loaned me the paperback just after it came out.  I was a teenager and read periodically.  I just started reading Sci-Fi, and didn't read to much horror.  Well, Stephen King changed that.  I was literally knocked out my socks by the book. I couldn't put it down.  There was something about King's writing that connected with me.  I went from being a periodic reader to an almost obsessive one. I couldn't wait for the next King book to come out. 

And it made me think about being a writer some day.  (Little did I know that seed would take a couple decades to grow.)

Carrie - the Audiobook
Anyway, back to my "Carrie" orgy.  Two weeks ago, I listened to the audiobook on my daily commute.  It was like going back in time for me, but it also transcended my nostalgia.  I could see a nimble and intelligent writer at work.  Despite it's deceptively simple surface level plot, this is a complex book.  You have the on-going traditional narrative interspersed with an epistolary approach that is quite complex.  On top of it all, King uses some of the most overt foreshadowing that I can ever remember reading.  Trouble's coming and I have to know about it.

My wife and I had planned to see the most recent silver screen version of the book, and since we have Netflix, I thought it might be a good idea to watch the 1976 DePalma version to allow us to compare it.

Carrie - the movie (1976)
First, I've never been a big fan of this version of the movie.  DePalma's treatment seems heavy handed at times and there are several scenes that don't stand of the test of time.  That being said, I can say that I found the movie to better than I remembered.  This is largely due in part to the strength of the source material and Sissy Spacek's performance.  Spacek gives a fantastic and empathetic performance, it's hard not to root for her Carrie.  DePalma also charts the course toward the finale with a great sense of tension.

Carrie - the movie (2013)
I had some initial trepidation about this most recent incarnation, largely due to the casting.  There's nothing wrong with Chloe Grace Moretz as an actress.  She's quite talented.  It was just the fact that "Carrie" is about an ugly duckling becoming a swarm and Moretz brings a lot of innate attractiveness to the role that is hard to overcome.  Still, she does her best and almost gets over this challenge.  

For her part, Julianne Moore does a fantastic job of rendering Margaret White.  This is quite a challenging role as it could easily drift in to caricature.  While Piper Laurie's performance is somewhat stylized, Moore's is slightly more nuanced.  

As for the other roles, I think Amy Irving and William Katt are much better in portraying Sue Snell and Tommy Ross than their contemporaries.  Gabriella Wilde's Sue is somewhat plastic and one dimensional.  Ansol Algort's Tommy is more nuanced and layered than Wilde's Sue, but he comes off more goofy than earnest.  

As for the direction in the new "Carrie," Kimberly Pierce focuses on bullying and its harmful effects.  This works to good effect in this re-telling of the story.  There are times in the movie when your heart is almost breaking for this young girl who had been tormented.   

Comparing the Two Movies
If someone made me choose which version I would recommend. it would be the 2013 version. There are just too many deficits in the 1976 version (e.g. some terribly dated music tracks, the choice of split screens during the climax, etc.).  Plus the advances in special effects allows the movie makers to fully realize the climactic scenes in the most recent version.  
My only qualms with the new movie is that movie stretches Carrie's abilities past just telekinesis to pyrokinesis which I felt took it too far.

Comparing the Book to the Movies
Comparing the screenplays of the two movies with the original material is somewhat easy because Larry Cohen had a hand in writing both screenplays.  If you compare the two movies, you'll hear some line-for-line repetition in the two movies.  

Obviously, a movie is no match for the human imagination when it comes to realizing what a movie could be, but Cohen, in my opinion, actually improves the dramatic structure of King's book.  I don't want to giveaway the ending, but Cohen switches around two chronological events at the end of the book and finishes the movies with a better dramatic punch with the climax than King did.  It's rare that I can say a movie does that, but this is one of those times.  

In the end, I say make up your own mind about the movies, but please do yourself a favor and read the book first if you haven't.  It's a real treat.

[Author's Note:  I have not seen the 2002 TV version, but I sure would like to.]

Monday, October 7, 2013

Want to Sell More Books? Then Write Them

It seems like the title of this post is quite obvious, and it is, but there's more depth in it it than you think.

All too often a writer can put out a book and have some sales, but then watches them dwindle away.  I'm one of those authors.  "NEW" catches people's eyes.  "NEW" is easy to market.  Old is a bigger challenge.

The case in point for me is that my sales in August and September were simply awful.  I sold next to nothing because my backlog was old and stale.  At least to readers.

What does old mean?  It must mean six months because my backlog wasn't moving.

I just released a new book (Forget Texas, the second book in my Forget the Zombies series) and it has sold quite briskly.  Of course, it didn't hurt that I gave away the first book in the series (Forget the Alamo) and sold Forget Texas for half price.

It helps if you can write and sell them a series because many readers like the continuity of a series.  They like getting know your heroes and follow them on adventures.  Plus you can use the new book to market the old one.

So, if you want to sell more book, then get out there and write them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Forget Texas Launches - Officially

Today is not only my birthday, but the launch of my latest book, Forget Texas.  As my birthday gift to you, I'm offering up the first book in the Forget the Zombies series for FREE and Forget Texas for half price.

In Forget Texas, Grant and the gang find themselves in a refugee camp that is about to be overrun by zombies. They are forced to fend for themselves as they must find a way out of the camp and then out of Texas as the zombie hordes chase them north. 

Forget Texas (on Amazon)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Forget Texas Launches Officially on Thursday

Forget Texas, the sequel to my novella, Forget the Alamo, is available on Amazon, but the official launch is Thursday, Oct. 3.

Forget Texas picks up where Forget the Alamo left off.  We find Grant and the other survivors from the zombie outbreak that overran San Antonio living a tenuous life in a central Texas refugee camp.

Things are decidedly bad as food is running low and zombie incursions from the south are picking up each day.  Grant feels the noose of death closing around him and the other survivors.  Leaving the camp is prohibited by the military.  Leaving Texas will be even harder as the President has closed the borders of all states with signs of infection.  Getting out won't be easy.  Surviving will be even more challenging.

Forget Texas (on Amazon)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Constant Exposure is Important

This will be a short blog piece.  It can be summed up in this sentence:
My recent sales figures have sucked!

I mean really sucked.  With exception of the sales of my most recent novel distributed through my publisher, my sales have been non-existent lately.  I know people use that phrase non-existent to mean, only a few, but I mean I’ve had no sales is three weeks on my backlog of ebooks.  

Now, to be honest, I have a novella and a handful of short stories along a flash fiction collection there.  The novella has been my best seller -- up to now.

What can I attribute this to?  

Lack of exposure.  Besides my novel, (published in late July), I’ve had nothing new to promote.   Now, that doesn’t mean I have nothing to promote and that’s the rub. I’m missing the fact that I have material to promote, but I’m just not doing it and that’s my problem.  

I’ve been locked too much into the “one-and-done” marketing syndrome.  I release an ebook, I market it around once and let that be it.  

That being said, there is a tenuous balance between marketing and spam.  You certainly don’t want to annoy people with spam, but shooting up one flare of promotion isn’t going to cut it.  

Pepsi and Coke don’t run one ad, they constantly advertise.  Again, having a small product line, I don’t need to be as aggressive as Pepsi or Coke, but I can’t let a single promotional effort be my total promotional effort.  

So, look for more promotional efforts from me.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Book Launch

I’m a little late at reporting on this since the blessed event was just over three weeks ago, but I guess better late than never is a good policy. Plus it allows me to have some other data.

I launched my first published novel, Sanctuary from the Dead, on July 26.  Let me be honest, what I know about book launches can be summed up on a few paragraphs.  I had participated in one other launch a fellow writer friend of mine convened.  (He interviewed me.)  I did some homework, read some blogs, but really I went with what I knew and used my gut to guide me.

Here’s some particulars:
Pre-Promotion:  I placed announcements for the event on several different community of interest sites (e.g zombie sites) and on several different Facebook pages.

Venue:  Facebook.  I used my writer’s FB page instead of an event page, hoping to drive up my ‘Likes’ -- which did work to some degree.  I did get 12 new Likes.

Process:  The event lasted 4 hours.  I had a planned out schedule putting up a new post every 15 minutes initially and then going to every 30 minutes later in the event.  The posts consisted of announcements, links to free short stories, and links to my blog where I had author interviews.

Live Interviews vs. Canned Author Interviews:  The one launch I participated in, the host did live Facebook interviews with authors (with me being one of them).  He reported that it was a lot of work and was not sure it was worth it.  I used pre-written interviews and posted links to my blog where they resided.  I can say that having participated in another launch event where the author did live interviews and I might try that.

Giving Things Away:  I released links to three free short stories and a collection of flash stories on Amazon throughout the night.  I moved 227 free ebooks that night.   Hopefully people are reading those stories and liking them, ergo giving me more exposure more and new readers.

Final Tally:
227 free ebooks given away
12 new Likes to my Facebook page  
20 Books sold within 3 weeks of release
NOTE:  I figure quite a few people came to the launch because the amount of free ebooks that got downloaded.

Lessons Learned:
Do more up front promotion
Maybe do live author interviews
Consider an event page so that I can track how many people came

Monday, August 19, 2013

15 Minute Marketing

For many writers, marketing is one of the last things they want to do.  Writers want to write.  (Or, at least, they should.)

For the indie writer, marketing is a must, though.  Without it, readers won’t discover your work and then your books don’t get read.  But it seems such a daunting task.  At this current moment, I have two pages of a list of single spaced items of places and strategies I should be doing to market my latest book.  Taking them all in at once makes me want to hide under my desk.

But, as with the joke about eating an elephant  (Q: How do you eat a whole elephant?  A: A bite at a time.) taking them a few at time, say 15 minutes a day, makes the overall task more manageable.  

So, for now, I’m trying to do that.  I’ll let you know what I find out.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sanctuary from the Dead Video Trailer

Do you want to get a feel for my book, Sanctuary from the Dead?  Then check out this video trailer for it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Too Many Words

Another author posted a link to a blog post about writing on her Facebook page.  The author of the blog post provided a list of items that make a for a good story that is marketable.  One of them really struck me. Here's the quote:
Wordiness or overwriting — the book is not excessively wordy, particularly, no rambling descriptions, dumps of information, unnecessary repetition or irrelevant scenes.

As I kid, when I envisioned a writer, I saw someone who was very learned and they used long and complicated words.  They might even smoke a pipe and wear jackets with patches on their sleeves.  (Ahh, the mystery of childhood misconceptions.)

Some of my first writing was a game to show how smart I was with my vocabulary.  I'd work every long word I could into my stories.  

Well, I got my own education on that approach when I released a mystery novel I was working on to a group of beta-readers.  One of the common threads of the critiques was that the book was "too wordy" and it "seemed over-written."  Other friends said I used too many long words, too.  

That stung. I worked really hard at being smart with my book and it back-fired. (It didn't help that the front end of the book was ponderously slow.)  

I've learned since then that I don't have to write 'dumb' or talk down to my readers, but I don't have to try to impress them with my vocabulary.  Writing clearly and succinctly seems to better connect with my readers. Since I write in genre fiction, this even more important.

Now, this doesn't mean that your book has to be dumb.  Not at all.  Readers love smart books, but over-smart writing doesn't always win them over.

So, the next time you decide to try an impress your readers with how smart you are, think again.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Upsides and Downsides of Free

Thought I would share some Observations/Upsides/Downsides of giving books away.

Last week, I had a launch event on Facebook for my new book.  As a part of the way I enticed potential readers to the event (and get more Likes on my FB page), I gave away a lot of my short stories and flash crime collection.  In total, I gave away 227 ebooks.

Upsides:  More exposure and something to entice readers with.  Chance for more reviews -- the good kind

Downsides:  No income generated.  Chance for more reviews -- the negative kind

One person downloaded all four of my free ebooks and reviewed them all.  The reader gave me 2 - 5-Star ratings and 2 - 3-Star ratings.

Obviously, I love the 5-Star Ratings.  The 3-Star ratings, not so much.  But them's the breaks or so they say.

So, you now see the dangers of free.  But free is a necessary evil, I fear, at least for indie writers.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Author Interview with Dan Williams

Dan Williams is the author of the Mace of the Apocalypse series, featuring bounty hunter Mace and his trusty partner, Jade as they face against the undead.  The first book, Mace of the Apocalypse is followed by The Value of Jade and Children of the Apocalypse.  The final book in the series was just release and is titled, Legend of Mace.
You can learn more about Dan William’s writing life at:

Why do you write?

Writing for me is more than just a hobby. From a young age it became an outlet to release pent-up frustration or creativity. Once a story takes root, it becomes ingrained in my subconscious and becomes something I can't help but think about and expand upon.

Tell me about your Mace of the Apocalypse series - who is Mace and what is he up against?
The Mace of the Apocalypse series starts off at the beginning stages of a zombie apocalypse. It focuses on a group of survivors who believe they have the antidote to the infection. It is a story about survival, adversity, and relationships in an atmosphere of complete horror.

The main character in the story, Mace, is a man who struggles with a dark past. He strives to find meaning and redemption in the present. The more I developed him the more I fell in love with his character. His past haunts him; he identifies with it and feels somewhat damaged. He is certainly not without his flaws. He sees his new role as a protector and risks everything for those he loves or feels responsible for.  

Why was your path to the zombie apocalypse and what influenced you to write about the undead?
In my opinion, there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of being pursued by a horde of undead corpses ravenous for human flesh. I have always been attracted to epic stories, and a zombie apocalypse is about as epic as I could imagine. People's reactions to that type of horror completely drew me in, and I wanted to explore that from a human perspective.

What’s it like writing a series -- do you like spending so much time with these characters?
I am so glad I decided to take this journey. The greatest aspect of writing a series is being able to delve further into my character's personalities. 
They are a part of me.  It is one of the most rewarding challenges I have ever undertaken. 

Was there a particular book or author that inspired you as a writer?
I would have to say The Stand by Stephen King. That was storytelling at its masterful best. It was such an epic tale, with rich characters, great pacing and originality: One of my favorites of all time.

What keeps you writing?
Writing is now a way of life. There is a freedom that comes when you completely let go of reality and immerse yourself in a world of your own creation. At this point, I can't imagine not writing. I recently signed with J Ellington Ashton press, and the knowledge I've gained is priceless. Learning to become a better writer is such a wonderful challenge.

What advice do you have for other writers?
The best advice I can give would be to just keep writing, take classes or workshops when you can, and learn from your mistakes. Don't take bad feedback personally. Everyone gets bad reviews. If you see a pattern emerging, look at it objectively and learn from it. Leave your ego at the door.

What’s up next for Dan Williams?
"Now it's time to promote this series and see what happens. It's been a ball."

Dan Williams Bibliography:
Mace of the Apocalypse

Value of Jade

Children of the Apocalypse

Legend of Mace

Author Interview with Scotty Schrier

Scotty Schrier is the author of “Jode Unforgiven,” a tale of an ageless cowboy demon hunter who has to save the world against an ancient evil.  This book was just released from J. Ellington Ashton Press.  He has also written several short stories and has a collection of stories entitled “Mental Menagerie: A Collection of genre-bending short fiction.” He lives in Florida and writes whenever he can get enough coffee.

You can learn more about Scotty’s Writing Life at:

What brought you to writing?
I'm not photogenic enough for movies? I've always been a storyteller. I tried my hand at cartooning, and found that what I wrote was so much stronger than what I drew...okay, I sucked at drawing. So, I focused on words. And one thing led to another until I was posting short stories online and getting pretty good responses. Then one year I gave NaNoWriMo a shot, and hammered out my first novel in 30 days. The feeling I had when I typed 'The End' was electric and addicting. That's when I knew I was destined to write.

Tell me about your novel, Jode Unforgiven -- who is Jode and what is he up against?
Jode is a man who's family was killed by a demon. In the process of trying to save his family he was infected with demon blood and became half-demon himself. This book starts with Jode tracking down a gang of demons who had been terrorizing the countryside. Once he interrogates them, he stumbles across a plot to bring about the End Times early. He has to gather together a small band of misfits from a local ranching town and try to save the world from utter destruction.

What was the inspiration for Jode Unforgiven?
I was mowing my lawn one day and I had the image of a snake slithering through the grass towards my son. I thought the best way to take care of that would be to hit the snake with my lawnmower. Then this whole scene played out in my head. This guy hits the snake with the lawnmower and sparks began shooting from under the mower deck as the blade scraped against impossibly hard scales. 
Then, the next week when I was mowing the lawn, when I was in the same spot, the scene grew. Each time I mowed for a couple of months, the same scene played out, and each time I was given a little more and a little more. Until the snake (who by that time I knew was a demon) had a conversation with the man. And I knew I had to write it down.
The odd part, was when I started writing was set in the Old West. So, I ran with it!

What books or authors have most influenced you?
On Writing by Stephen King is the book that lit the fire and finally made me decide to do this. Don McQuinn, my mentor, has published a ton of books, and knows more industry experts on a first name basis, than you can imagine...and he was my writing coach for the better part of three years. Even now, when I'm writing, I can hear his voice in my head. Urging me on, and asking me questions about 'why' a character is doing something, or 'what' does a character feel after something happens. I can hear him asking me, "Do you think this is a genuine reaction?" and my perennial favorite: "Write the damn book."

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Selling books. It's insanely hard to get noticed. And it doesn't help when so many of us are selling books wrong. I see so many authors who tweet a hundred times a day 'Buy my book.' 'It's great!' 'You'll love it.' often I feel like that guy by the roadside with a sing yelling for people to repent. So, yeah, finding a sales tactic that works, and doesn't spam people or turn them away before ever reading your words. That's my greatest challenge.

What advice would you have for other writers?
Study the craft. Learn how to write well. Then learn as much as you can about the industry. Also, read some marketing books too. You're going to need them. 
But my biggest advice would be this: "What differentiates an author from a hobbyist is a hobbyist FINDS time to write; an author MAKES time to write." If this is your thing, get serious about it.

What’s your next project?
I've got about four different ones on various burners right now. I'm struggling to get them all down on the page. But the main one I'm working on right now is the sequel to Jode Unforgiven called Jode Unchained. It takes place 70 years later and Jode is trying to get his life back together after the epic ending of the first book.

Author Interview with Belinda Frisch

Belinda Frisch is a writer of dark tales in the horror, mystery, and thriller genres.  Her fiction has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of the Zombie War.  She is the author of the Strandville series including CURE and AFTERBIRTH.  Her other books are DEAD SPELL and PAYBACK.  She resides in upstate New York with her husband, son and a small menagerie of beloved animals.

My Note:  I’ve read CURE and it is a great thrill ride.  Zombies and a medical thriller, you can’t you go wrong.

What was your path to the writing life?

I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing stories, and submitted to magazines since my teens. I fared well in some of the Writer’s Digest contests, and landed a short story sale with Shroud Magazine, but my first big writing break came in 2004 when I got a contract to write a text book Correct Coding for Medicare, Compliance, and Reimbursement. At the time, I worked as a medical coding expert for a local hospital, and it was a big deal for my career. I married in 2005 and kept writing fiction. Between then and now, I decided that I was most suited, at the time, for indie world. I had a lot going on, personally, which didn’t lend to meeting deadlines that weren’t self-imposed, and my writing was pretty experimental. I self-published Dead Spell, Crisis Hospital, Cure, and Afterbirth between 2011-2013 and Cure was optioned for film.

How did you choose to write about scary subjects?

I don’t know that horror was a choice, as much as it chose me. I write stories that I’d like to read, and horror comes naturally. I love horror movies and, up until recently, the stories that came to me were all very dark. My earliest writing influences were horror writers and I’m sure that had something to do with it. I read tons of Anne Rice, some Koontz, and some King as a kid.

What was your inspiration for your books in the Strandville series, Cure and Afterbirth?

My inspiration for the Strandville series was a combination of an early fascination with The Walking Dead TV show and years of working in a hospital. Most of my stories are medicine-influenced and the z-virus lends itself perfectly to a medical thriller theme. I couldn’t help thinking, “What if there was a cure?” The rest of the twisted tale developed and the Strandville survivors materialized.

Which authors and books do you most admire?

Hands down, the author I admire most is Dennis Lehane. I finished reading Moonlight Mile, the follow-up to Gone Baby Gone, and I was so in awe of his prose that I couldn’t read another book right away. Book hangover, right? That’s what it’s called?

Other favorites: Anne Rice (circa 1990’s), Joe Schreiber (Eat the Dark), Greg Hurwitz (The Crime Writer), Martha O’Connor (The Bitch Posse), and pretty much all of Charlie Huston’s backlist.

What is it like for you working outside the major publishing houses as an indie?

It’s busy. Traditional authors write and edit. Indie authors do all that, plus have to deal with their own marketing and branding (though I understand there’s some of this in traditional world, it’s not like what indies deal with). There’s e-formatting, cover design, and print-on-demand formatting. I have to file my own copyrights, and had to deal with an intellectual property attorney on the film option. I also co-wrote the script which may or may not ever come to fruition. The producer worked hard at getting studio backing, but some things are harder sells than others. It was an honor to have gotten that far.

What makes a good book in your opinion?

A good book, to me, has an innovative plot, three dimensional characters, and it invests the reader, emotionally, in a fictional world. I love the feeling of being so drawn into a book that I have to keep going back to see what comes next.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Don’t quit your day job. I used to hate to hear that advice, but if you rely on your income to survive, wait until you’re a big success before taking the leap. The hardest part about being a writer is striking the balance between time spent honing the craft and living life. I used to begrudge the time the day job took away from my writing. I then resented the writing taking time away from my family. It seemed there weren’t enough hours in the day, and there wasn’t. I had to write, many days, when I was too mentally exhausted to be at my best. That led to nightmarish editing. Fortunately, there has been enough of a change in our circumstances that I no longer work outside of the home, but it’s stressful if you depend on writing income because it fluctuates, is unpredictable, and is almost entirely out of your control.

What’s next for you -- another Strandville book or something new?

Some readers are asking for another Strandville novel, but the story stopped talking to me with the ending of Afterbirth. Yes, eventually, I think there might be more to that world, but I’m taking a break from horror and have ventured into the medical thriller genre. The new book, Lethal Donation, is expected to be out in October 2013. The title is a working one, and may change, but the first draft is almost finished. Here’s the blurb:

A cutting-edge procedure meant to create lives, destroys them in this romantic medical thriller with a forensic twist.

Paramedic Anneliese Ashmore's routine shift takes a startling turn when she answers the call she was never meant to hear—a call to a crime scene where her sister, Sydney, is the victim of an overdose suicide.

The evidence says otherwise.

In the midst of a heated divorce, motive implicates Sydney’s husband and mistress, but while the police focus on the single lead, Ana investigates others.
A mysterious business card and a chain of e-mails between Sydney and her surgeon's office set Ana on a search for answers about her sister's recent diagnosis and the life-altering treatment that saved her. The body count rises as Ana closes in on the truth, and on the man of her dreams.

With the help of Dr. Jared Monroe, an unhappily married physician with a bit of a crush, and Dr. Marco Prusak, the biggest detractor of County Memorial Hospital's new organ transplant program, Ana uncovers a ring of greed and corruption, and exposes the fact that Sydney’s medical treatment may have been the catalyst for her murder. Unfortunately for Ana, she may be next.

For more information, visit my blog:

It's Launch Day for Sanctuary from the Dead

I'm excited beyond words.  My first novel, Sanctuary from the Dead, launches today.

Being a writer has a been a dream of mine since I was a kid.  Sadly, it was a dream that I took a long time to fulfill.  Still, it's very gratifying.

Since I really dedicated myself to the writing life, I've had a lot of help along the way.  My wife, Kim, has been supportive throughout this crazy adventure.  My brother had read and critiqued my stories over the past two years, too.  Barb Kerr graciously provided editing and moral support with this book that was invaluable.  I'd also like to thank my parents (who are no longer with us) who went along with all my creative endeavors as a kid.

If you're interested in a rip roaring tale of zombies and adventure, please consider buying a copy:

(And if you do read it, please, please, please leave a review.  Reviews are the lifeblood for indie writers.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sanctuary from the Dead - Teaser Trailer

Sanctuary from the Dead will be released Friday, July 26.  In anticipation and to build excitement for the book, my brother (who is a video producer) created a video teaser trailer for the book.

Here it is - Get Excited!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Path (Back) to Horror

Just how did I end up writing horror?

It was a circuitous path, let me tell you.  As a kid, I read a lot of different genres.  I wasn't really picky. Sports bios, scary stories, youth literature, and some science fiction.  And I read a lot of comic books. The Marvel-verse -- X-Men, Daredevil, the Avengers.

The first book that really grabbed and took hold of me was Stephen King's "Carrie."  I read it in two-days and was unable to put it down.  Now, my literary criticism skills weren't too honed, but there was something so obvious to me that told me that this guy knew how to write.  I couldn't wait for 'Salem's Lot.  And I couldn't wait to discover more horror novels.  I read some great stuff and some awful stuff.

I then diverted off into Science Fiction in a big way.  Frank Herbert's Dune series captivated my imagination. I read all the masters after that.  Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury.   Phillip K. Dick blew my mind.  Harlan Ellison showed what you could do with the short story.  I spent a lot of time with Sci-Fi.

In my late twenties, I wanted to make a short private detective film, but I knew little or nothing about the genre.  So, I went on jury for a week and had a lot of time on my hand.  So, I read a slew of PI novels that week.  John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee.  Ross McDonald's Lew Archer.  Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone.  And my personal favorite, Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder.  In fact, I read almost exclusively PI (and first person mystery) novels for the next 15 years.

When you read a genre as much as I did and have an inkling that you'd like to be a writer, well then, you'll have to try your hand at it.  I wrote (with my brother) an unpublishable PI novel.  But I didn't let that stop me.  I wrote some short stories.  One even took 2nd place in a short mystery competition.  Then I went on to start another PI novel which took me over 10 years to write.

Late in 2011, I started working on short mystery and crime fiction to hone my craft.  I tried to get some stories published, but I didn't get any picked up.  So, I pulled out a crime short story I had written in 1997 called Home Schooling.  It was a story that I knew was marketable, and I submitted it to A Twist of Noir. Lo and behold, they accepted it and the editor, Christopher Grant, gave me some great encouragement.

I went on a good run with crime short fiction, getting stories on Shotgun Honey and some other sites.  It was invigorating and encouraging.  I was starting yo understand my market.  I knew what they wanted.

But then I felt this urge to return to my roots.  There was a story inside me and I had to let it get out.  The story was The Dark Child and I submitted it to The Horror Zine.  The experience was so rewarding and the collaboration with the editor, Jeanie Rector, was such a great learning opportunity.  And my career writing horror got started.  It was good to be back.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Zombiepalooza Radio Appearance

Speaking of radio (see last post), I appeared on Zombiepalooza Radio last week.  It was my first media interview for my upcoming book, Sanctuary from the Dead.

Zombiepalooza Radio is an web-based radio program hosted by the spectacular Jackie Chin.  It airs on Friday nights.

My experience was both exhilarating and nerve wracking.  I've been interviewed before and have performed hundreds of interviews in my "real" job, but it was the first time I've been interviewed as an author.

As it turned out, I had nothing to be worried about.  Jackie made me at ease from the start as we talked about my book, my previously released novella, Forget the Alamo, and, of course zombies.

If you like zombies, this is a great place to hang out.

Here's a link to both their Facebook page and their program archive page:
> the archive of my interview is titled:Zombiepalooza ICONS Stream 2013-07-05