I’m at my hotel in New Orleans, and I’ve finally gotten a two-hour-or-so nap in after 24 hours awake. I wish I could say I’ve spent all those waking hours writing and finishing up on projects that have been haunting my calendar for far too long, but it was mostly spent preparing for a work trip, packing, driving, and hanging out at airports. But, all things considered, I made it here alive, and that’s a pretty cool consolation prize.
I’ll be in Louisiana all week on a business trip. Although I’m planning to cut back severely on travel in the coming few months, this leg of my travels has always been a favorite of mine. New Orleans has its own vibe, and the energy here is great if you can understand it and endure it long enough. Also, part of an upcoming novel of mine takes place in NOLA, so it’s not far from truth to call this trip “research.” I’m currently “researching” how many liquid hurricanes the human body can take.
Aside from coming up with titles for a few new projects (something I almost always postpone until the last minute), things have been going great on the writing side of things. I wrote part of a new bizarro story last night before departure, and I’ll probably wrap it this week along with a dark sci-fi/horror short story I intend to submit to a magazine.
I was at Scares That Care VIII last weekend, and I had an absolute blast. Although I didn’t have the energy to do much else other than sling books at my table and attend a few discussions, I loved the overall energy of being around so many other creative people. A highlight for me was being on a panel with author Kristopher Triana, one of the most creative names in splatterpunk, and reading a snippet of my 2018 book Birthday Girl in front of an audience. I was WAAAY overcaffeinated by that point in the day, so I was shaking visibly while reading, but the words came out well and the audience seemed to enjoy the chapter. Granted, I was also pretty nervous, since this is the first live reading I’d done in three years, and attendees included the man/myth/legend himself Ronald Kelly (my guest on an upcoming episode of The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast!)
The topic of story titles came up during a panel discussion, and I was surprised to hear from another author that he doesn’t even begin a story until he knows both the ending and the title. I certainly don’t write that way, but I’ve heard this from several authors during the recording of my podcast, and it’s always a surprise. I like hearing about the various methods employed by other writers, and sometimes trying things their way helps.
So, for now, the title of my bizarro horror story is “Toe Babies.” I’ll leave the premise to your imagination but, suffice to say, it’s a gross one 🙂
Until next time, keep smiling and keep on keeping on.
I’ve been on a roll lately, at least in terms of keeping to a nightly writing schedule. While I was keeping a good 5,000 words per day (roughly 20 pages) schedule for a week or so, I’ve found my sweet spot is writing in 300-word increments, which allows me to fit writing into my busy schedule. I can write 300 words first thing in the morning, another 300 later in the afternoon, and then 1,000 or so later at night. Although this is far less ambitious that my previous writing schedule, it’s a good way of preventing burnout, which is inevitable if you’re pushing yourself too hard, no matter how professional you are or how much love you have for your craft.
As King Leonidas would say in Zack Synder’s movie 300,“Tonight we dine…at our work desk!”
I’m currently dividing my writing time pretty evenly between editing Parasitic Host and polishing up my next Ash Crowlin book…which I’ll talk more about as the release gets closer. I’m putting some time into my Moving Through sorta-sequel Clive, but I’m dedicating myself too heavily to it just yet, since I don’t want to get distracted from the task at hand by “shiny objects.” I’ve spoken to many other writers about this exact issue, getting distracted by excitement for your next project (and there’s ALWAYS a “next project”), and they’ve all told me the same thing: finish the book you’re currently working on, take notes for the one you’re excited to get cracking on, and don’t allow yourself to get easily distracted.
Speaking of conversations with other authors, there are a ton of of new episodes of The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast available for you to check out. The show’s been a lot of fun to work on, and it’s been a great hobby for me. I hope you enjoy it!
That’s all for now. I’ll be on the road in Memphis, Louisiana,Alabama, and Mississippi all next week, but I’ll find time to hop on when I’m not sneaking in writing time in 300-word increments.
Typed 1,500 words in the Moving Through sequel, currently titled Clive, last night after a long walk. It was a weird day and I hadn’t typed anything new for a while, so getting it out in one uninterrupted session really did wonders for my mood. I’m pretty sure most authors can relate to the feeling.
Clive isn’t what I would call a direct sequel, but all the characters from Moving Through are in it. Some of the book pertains to the third act in Moving Through, but it’s not a situation where you’ll feel lost if you haven’t read the first book in a while or at all. As Trey would say, sequels and reboots are typically godawful, so I’m keeping Clive as much of a standalone story as possible. I feel like it’s a story that needs to be told, and it gives so much more character to everyone’s favorite high school smartass.
Clive probably won’t be out for at least another year, as I like to really take my time with edits in the second-through-fourth drafts. But once I hit draft four and have notes from my beta readers, then things move like lightening and I’m flying through edits.
More news on the convention front:
-I’ll be at Scares That Care VIII Weekend July 29-31st in Williamsburg, VA.
-I’ll be at The Mid-Ohio Indie Author Book Fair August 13th.
-Finally, I’ll be at The PA Horror Con, courtesy of Gloomhouse Publishing, August 20th and 21st.
I’m pretty excited about all the great things that are to come. I don’t want to get carried away with announcing upcoming projects, since I typically change dates when burnout inevitably sets in, but 2023 is going to be a HUGE year….both for myself and for a certain Ash Crowlin.
It’s been a good week. Although I didn’t accomplish my writing goal meant for my retreat (100 handwritten pages in 5 days; 20 pages per day), I got about 60% of my goal while also visiting family and having a great time in my hometown. Also, who needs goals when you’ve got home-cooked meals every night of the week? Love you, Dad!
My cousin’s wedding was yesterday. Although I wasn’t able to make the ceremony due to previously scheduled obligations, I was able to attend most of the reception, which was pretty fun. Admittedly, I was pretty damn cranky the entire time because A) I was tired as tired can be, and it showed, and B) I’m really not much for weddings, mostly because of social anxiety and the pressure to participate and dance. I love revelry, and I’m always happy for people who find love and get married, but I’m much more comfortable watching everyone else have fun and dance the night away while I just sit and enjoy a beer unnoticed. I don’t think I’m an introvert, but I definitely have introvert tendencies like that.
Author Ty Roth was at the wedding. He did a great interview with me this week for his blog, which you can find here. Ty is a family friend and an amazing writer, and I’m always grateful for the time he makes to teach me things I may not already know about the industry, being that he’s been through the ringer and back with publishers.
Yesterday morning I had my sales table set up at an art show just off State Route 53 in Lakeside Marblehead. Although I didn’t sell many books, I was surrounding by chickens, which made me smile like a little kid the whole time. I tried to catch one and pet it, and I’m happy to report it’s just as hard as the movie Rocky has led us to believe. Fast little creatures.
I also found out earlier this week that I’ll be in the same reading/Q&A block as author Kristopher Triana at Scares That Care VIII at the end of July. Triana is one of my favorite horror authors, and I got to hang out with him on my podcast recently. You can find his episode here. I’m VERY excited about this!
I started a Patreon page for The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast. This is a great way for listeners to get involved with the show while helping to offset hosting fees for the podcast (which add up FAST) and help me purchase updated equipment for better sound quality. If you’d like to check out the different reward tiers and share the page with friends who might also be interested in the show, click here.
Exciting stuff is happening with Moving Through and its sequel, Clive (working title). The hardback edition of Moving Through is coming out in October, and I’ll probably have one or two other things ready to share by New Year’s Eve.
This week’s been everything I’d hoped for. Although I was supposed to be in the Virginia woods this week on a writing retreat, I instead decided to drive to my hometown of Coshocton, Ohio to surprise my older sister before she leaves for two years to Chennai, India! She and her husband are diplomats, and they’ll be away overseas with my nephew for way too long for me to pass up an opportunity to see them for a full week, so I made a last-minute change of plans and went back to my roots, singing “Country Roads” at the top of my lungs the whole way (yes, I got a few weird stares from passerby, but it’s what I’m here for, isn’t it?)
Fortunately, being home hasn’t hampered my ability to get some serious writing done and dusted. I’m nearly finished with a new short story, which I’ll give details about at a later date, and I’m pre-writing Clive (the pseudo-sequel to Moving Through) while putting the finishing touches on Parasitic Host, my upcoming comedy-horror novel. I’m also journaling every day again, which has been nice, and I’m reading a few helpful books on technique and self-editing. I pride myself on always learning, both from past experiences and from people who’ve been doing what I want to do much longer than I’ve even been alive.
Speaking of journals, you can now buy copies of my Moving Through inspired journal here on my Amazon page. They’re a good place to vent…and I’m pretty sure I’d be snapping 24/7 if not for that outlet. Mostly joking.
I’ve gotten a lot of reading done this week as well, and though I’m currently working on proper review for these books to post on Amazon, here are some brief thoughts on what I’ve been reading.
This book is engaging for so many reasons. Not only do we get a werebear fighting a proper wendigo (one that true to the original mythos), but we also get fully-developed characters who make smart decisions and aren’t simply slaves to the plot. This is a character-driven novel, and I had a blast reading it.
Oh boy, now THIS is my type of book! Part “Silent Hill,” part Naked Lunch, 100% weird the entire way through! It doesn’t let up even once throughout it’s rather brief length, and it packs a real wallop that should make any bizarro horror writer envious.
I was recently at an indie writers convention in Northeast Ohio, and while I didn’t sell too many books, I did meet probably my favorite new indie horror writer, Buzz Parcher. He and I have very similar tastes in the splatterpunk subgenre, and I’m absolutely certain his name is one you’ll be hearing plenty of over the next few years. These books are brutal, funny, fast-paced, and they push the envelope in every sense of the phrase. You can watch my TikTok review here.
I’ve been pretty active on TikTok lately with book reviews, and new episodes of The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast are airing 2-3 times weekly, so there’s plenty of new content while we wait together for Parasitic Host to hit bookshelves. I have a lot of great news I wish I could share, but I don’t think now’s the best time to do so, since things change sometimes. But when the time comes…you’ll know what I’m referring to!
Hey, I FINALLY got to do a good ol’ fashioned TV binge in 2022!
Lately, after a long few months of traveling and dealing with professional obligations and mental health issues, I’ve finally had the chance to sit back and enjoy a good ol’ fashioned television binge! There are so many shows I’ve been meaning to catch up on, and here are my thoughts on a few of them.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+)
Man, the Star Wars franchise must be every screenwriter’s wet dream! You don’t have to respect lore, you don’t have to regard canon (whatever that even means anymore, and you don’t even need to tell much of a story…as long as there are space lasers and melodramatic monologues from the lead characters. The Book of Boba Fett was the epitome of bad writing, in my opinion. But…
Obi-WanKenobi revived my hope for the Star Wars television expansion on Disney+. Some might even call it “A New Hope.” Everything about this show was well done, and I didn’t even mind how a few things clash with established canon or disturbed some of the meaningful events throughout the original trilogy. One scene in particular in the final episode, involving a young Luke Skywalker, bothered me a bit, but the show was otherwise a joy to watch from beginning to end. I especially enjoyed Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Darth Vader, which I never in a million years thought I’d say. The final episode was brutal in so many ways, and the pure rage in Darth Vader’s hunt for his former master was never boring or overwritten. I’d recommend this to anyone who cares to see a bridged gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope; this is what Star Wars should’ve been from the beginning of all this revival business in the Disney purchase
The Boys (Amazon Prime)
The Boys, since the very first episode, has only gotten better and better. This latest season, which introduces Jensen Ackles’ “Soldier Boy,” hits the nail on the head with both social commentary and pure satire of the American fascination over superhero franchises. I loved the Deadpool movies, but damn, this show has quickly surpassed both films in terms of balancing humor with drama (both leaning, admittedly, heavily toward the “humor” side).
The Walking Dead, Season 11 (AMC+)
I haven’t been a fan of The Walking Dead in a while. Unlike many others, I absolutely LOVED the Negan and Saviors story line, as it was also my favorite part of the graphic novels. The previous few seasons, however, have seemed to drag onward like a reanimated corpse begging to be put out of its misery with a merciful “series finale” head shot.
But Season 11 has been pretty stellar. I’m only a third of the way through it, and I’m actually paying attention to episodes again instead of constantly playing on my phone and rolling my eyes during every long-winded “this is who we are now” monologue. I find the character development between Maggie and Negan especially interesting, since he straight up brutally murdered her husband in front of her after his lengthy introductory monologue. The two characters are getting a spinoff together, so maybe that’s why they’re getting so much screen time together, and somehow it never feels forced
Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)
I hated this show. It had its good moments but, overall, it completely failed to justify its existence. I hesitate to share my full thoughts on this shows weak points, since conversation is a thing of the past and having a negative opinion on shows and movies that others love is like asking for hate mail. All I will say (and this is a hill I will gladly die on) is that the season finale SUCKED. I hated Dexter’s son throughout the show but, man, the season finale just threw away any good qualities the character might’ve had, all for the sake of manufactured drama and “tying up loose ends.” I certainly hope there’s no season two of this garbage. Just let it die.
It’s been a rather eventful last few weeks, and I’m happy to report everything’s starting to feel (knock on wood, please) balanced in my world. I still work two jobs; I work full-time from home and sporadically on the road, and I also work as a host/bartender at a local restaurant. When I’m not working, I’m almost always either reading a book I’ve agreed to review, prepping for upcoming episodes of The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast, or writing/editing. Fortunately, I have plenty of friends with similar situations, and therein lies the true value of attending horror conventions and other events where I get to meet other writers.
I attended The Living Dead Weekend in Monroeville, PA last weekend, which was a total blast. I hung out with my good friend Brent, met lots of horror celebrities, sold several copies of my books (unsurprisingly, my splatter novellaBirthday Girloutsold my YA coming-of-age novel Moving Through) and, more importantly, I got to network with a few great people as we held each others heads up throughout a grueling three days…which never looks difficult on paper but, man, smiling and being personable for several hours each day can be draining!
But someone asked me a question while I was there. They asked, “Why do you bother purchasing a table at cons if you don’t know for sure you’re even going to sell enough books to cover the cost? And then you have to factor in hotel stays…food…gasoline costs…”
Yeah, I know, it seems like sorta a mean question at first glance. But it’s also a fair questions. I’ve spoken with other authors about this very thing in the past, and they’ve openly admitted they ask themselves this question a lot, particularly during slow sales periods. What we’re doing is a job, and jobs are supposed to pay, so it stands to reason we’ll sometimes pause in our gratitude to take stock of whether or not we’re in the red financially.
If you’re an indie prose author like I am, and all these convention costs come out of your own pocket, you can start to feel like a bit of a whore when you’re pushing your product near the end of a show in hopes of selling enough to justify the cost of attending. I’ve done it; on the final day of conventions I typically knock 25% off the sticker price on my books in order to meet my sales goal. And we all ask each other, when the convention’s over, “Did you make back your table?” (i.e., ‘Did you sell enough books to cover what you spent to be here?’)
“Reality” can be a trigger word, I suppose. And this is the reality of being an indie author. Or, really, an indie anything.
As I told the person who asked the aforementioned question: I’m just starting out as an author. Pardon the cheap wordplay, but I really can’t afford to only worry about making money. I go to these conventions because, whether my table costs $100 or $500, it’s a way to get my book in front of people. I go to these conventions because, at the end of the day, indie authors need to stay visible any way they can, and handing out freebies like bookmarks or stickers is a valuable way of connecting with people who will hopefully give your work a chance someday, whether that day is tomorrow or twenty years from now. Most importantly, I go to these conventions because I get the type of education you really can’t put a price on: I get to meet people who have been doing this sort of thing for way longer than I’ve been doing it, and I get to learn from the experiences they share with me.
I’m a writer, but I’m also a learner. I often tell people that I love learning new things, and they seem to think I’m joking most of the time, but I’m being absolutely serious. If I’m at an airport waiting in line for my plane and someone starts talking to me about their work as a plumber, I love listening to them. Am I ever going to be a plumber? Probably not (never say never), but I get to learn some things from this sort of small talk that I may never have learned otherwise.
So, without belaboring the point any further, I’m only trying to say this: money is only part of the gig, and the learning experience is what you’re paying for when you’re just starting out.
If you’re lucky, someday your work will ignite an interest in a wider audience and all those times you didn’t “make back your table” will finally pay off. I’ve heard plenty of stories from indie authors who kept grinding for five years before they were able to cultivate a big enough audience to accurately project what they could expect to make at shows and signings.
Birthday Girl has been out since 2018 and it’s only just now starting to find its audience through conventions. Someone at a recent con actually came to my table and told me they bought that book at a show I did a few years ago called Dark X Fest, and that they’ve read it four times and can’t wait for the sequel.
THIS is all I really hope for when I book tables at cons. THIS is the real reward and the reason anyone who loves writing should put their work out there for the world to see. I’m a firm believer in the idea that monetary success from your passion is only begat from hard work and persistence.
So, fellow indies who may be reading this, here’s the part you can skip to and highlight: keep learning, keep fighting the good fight, and keep putting in those small efforts from day to day…efforts that–it may seem–no one but you notices or takes any interest in.
Hello! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted, so I thought I’d update everyone on upcoming projects, my book “tour,” and a few other things.
I’m still editing Parasitic Host, my comedy-horror follow up to Moving Through (which is currently available in ebook format for 99 cents!) In my last post (holy crap, was that really months ago??) I said I’d reveal the cover soon. So….here ya go!
This is still just a placeholder, since I tend to change things right up until the date of a book’s release. I kinda love this one, though. While the book is funny at times, it’s also incredibly dark. So much so, in fact, that I’m still debating whether or not a specific scene will make it to the final draft or if it needs to be toned down. I’m erring on the side of keeping the scene in the book, since the violence within it is not only justified but also necessary. I won’t say anything about the plot of Parasitic Host just yet other than this: I considered making it an Ash Crowlin book. Anyone who’s read Birthday Girl gets the gist of what I mean by that. This is probably the closest I’ll ever come to blending my own work with my pseudonym’s “niche horror” stuff…and I’m excited to share this one with my splatterpunk friends!
I’m also working on an untitled sequel to Moving Through. I doubt this project will see the light of day until at least late 2023, but it’s coming along smoothly. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I already wrote two sequels to Moving Through over the years but ended up perma-shelving them both, due to them being of lower quality than Moving Through. Quality control means a lot to me, and if this latest effort at a sequel is anything less than worthy, I may end up shelving it as well. But…I’m pretty pleased with the change of direction in this one, and I think you’ll enjoy it even more than Moving Through.
I’m putting “tour” in parenthesis here because the connotations that go with “book tour” don’t exactly fit here. I’m doing 12 readings, signings, and conventions throughout Summer 2022, but it’s not like I’m going to be a featured author or anything like that. These are just opportunities to meet new people and hopefully share my work with them, and the experience itself means more to me than stuff like sales numbers or other corporate-sounding bullshit.
If you’re interested attending one of these stops, my schedule’s available here.
Latest stops include Scares That Care VIII in Williamsburg, VA (July 29-31) and Living Dead Weekend in Monroeville, PA (June 10-12). I’m excited to have a table at these two events, but I’m even more excited to see the dozens of celebrity guests, including Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, R.A. Mihailoff, Ken Foree, Bill Mosely, and others! My inner fanboy is tingling…
NOTE: At each event, unless otherwise stated, I’ll be selling a limited edition work tailored specifically to that event. These special little side projects won’t be available for purchase elsewhere, and I don’t intend to ever reprint them for mass distribution.
For as busy as my schedule is, considering I work three day jobs and spend a hefty amount of time training for powerlifting competitions, I’m likely biting off more than I should with these side projects. However; I promise they won’t interfere with editing my “main” projects or cause any sort of delays. One way or another, Parasitic Host will be available sometime later this year.
Laura Womack, of the “Bloom Where You’re Planted Podcast,” recently posted her interview with me. It’s a little shy of 20 minutes, and you can listen to it here.
I’ll have a table at this week’s art walk in Port Clinton, OH. If you’re in the area, come find my table! No idea where it’ll be just yet, but I’ll be sure to make enough noise so you can locate me.
Several people have posted their reviews of Moving Through on Amazon. You can check these out here.
I’m going to try to post here more frequently, so keep checking back. If you want to support my work, please subscribe to these posts and tell your friends about Moving Through. No matter how much work goes into writing a book or promoting it via “tour” stops and promotions, spreading awareness is really up to the fans. I’m not counting on my books ever making it to mass market, since I tend to write outside of what’s considered mainstream appeal regardless of which name I slap onto the cover, but I sincerely give thanks to everyone who takes the time to talk about my books and recommend them to other readers–none of this means anything without people like you, and I’m grateful my work has connected with you at some level.