Did Someone Say Update???

Been busy as you know what lately, so I thought I’d offer an update on all of the various projects I have going on right now…

The second edition of SHADOWS REMAIN is in the final stage of editing. The cover is finished (looks amazing) and I’m thrilled with the editing that has taken place. The text is not only better and reads smoother, but a few very cool aspects of the story have been slightly altered. We’re shooting for a mid to late April release. I should be able to narrow that down in the next week or two.

THE WINDING DOWN HOURS has finally found a publisher and I’m excited to say that editing has begun! This story is ten years in the making and I am so excited to finally be able to share it with the world. Updates on this one will be coming over the next few months, but all estimations point to a late autumn/early winter release. Fingers crossed…

Writing on the next horror novel is well underway and I would estimate it to be about 75% complete. But that’s only the first draft, so there’s still a long way to go before it’s time to submit. We’re getting there, though. Hope to have it ready for submission sometime late summer/early fall.

Oh, and there’s one more exciting bit of news to share, though I can’t speak of it yet. It’s something I’m pretty stoked about and will share as soon as I’m allowed. (Hopefully in the next month or two) So stay tuned…

‘Til next time, my friends…

Do I? (A play in one act) Happy Valentines Day!


Jake – a nervous twenty-seven year old bank teller.

Rachel – a twenty-nine year old comedy writer with a quick wit.

Waitress – sassy and in her late fifties. She’s seen it all.



Curtain opens on the interior of an upscale Italian restaurant. White linen tablecloths hang from the few tables positioned onstage. The room is sparsely populated with diners, suggesting an off night. Jake has just proposed to Rachel, his girlfriend of four years. He is waiting for an answer…

Jake: Well?

Rachel: Hmm…I’m thinking.

Jake: (sarcastically) Well, by all means, take your time.

Rachel: Oh, I will. (pause) How do I know you’re the right man for me?

Jake: We’ve been dating for four years. Have you not given it any thought ‘til now?

Rachel: Oh, I’ve thought about it, I’m just not sure yet.

(the waitress approaches the table)

Waitress: Any dessert? Coffee perhaps?

Jake: Um, none for me thanks. I was considering a bottle of champagne (turns to Rachel sarcastically)…but I’m just not sure yet. Could you give us a minute?

Waitress: Absolutely. Take your time. (walks away)

Jake: (to himself) Don’t worry, she is.

Rachel: Don’t you want me to be sure?

Jake: Of course I want you to be sure. I just thought that maybe you were already at that point. It’s not like we haven’t talked about a future together. (pause) Are you having doubts about us?

Rachel: No, no doubts, really. (pause) Which reminds me, have you heard the new Gwen Stefani song? It’s a huge departure from what she did with the band.

Jake: No, I haven’t. But I’m sure it’s good. Can we get back to the conversation at hand? Please?

Rachel: And that was…(pause)…oh, that’s right, dessert. I’m thinking the Ricotta cake.

Jake: Come on, Rachel. What’s the problem?

Rachel: The problem is I can’t decide. The Ricotta cake, or the Tiramisu. They both sound so good!

Jake: You’re kidding me…

Rachel: Um, no. You know how much I love them both.

Jake: I’m talking about this whole conversation. You’re kidding about forgetting what we were discussing. You have to be.

(A long pause on Rachel’s part. She appears distracted)

Jake: Rachel? Are you even listening to me?

(Rachel holds up index finger in Jake’s direction)

Jake: For God’s sake…

Rachel: Hold on. (pause) Did you hear that? (tilts her head in the direction of a couple across the room)

Jake: No, I didn’t. (pause) I was focused on our conversation. Though I seem to be the only one.

Rachel: He just told her she means the world to him and that his life didn’t begin until the day they met. How romantic? You could take a lesson from him.

Jake: Now I know you’re kidding me!

Rachel: What? We could use a bit more romance in our relationship.

Jake: (beside himself with disbelief) What the hell do you think tonight is all about?!

(the waitress returns)

Waitress: Anything calling your name?

(Rachel turns her focus to the waitress)

Rachel: I’m leaning toward the Tiramisu. But first let me ask you. (gesturing towards Jake) Would you marry this guy?

Waitress: (turns her attention to Jake, plays along) hmm, let’s see. Not bad looking.

Jake: Gee, thanks.

Rachel: (interjects) Stand up, babe. Let her have a good look.

Jake: That’s alright.

Waitress: Decent dresser.

Jake: So glad you approve.

Waitress: Appears to have a fairly pleasant personality from what I can tell. Though, maybe a touch sarcastic.

Jake: (growing increasingly irritated) Do ya think?

Waitress: Does he have any money?

Rachel: (while shaking her head no) Yes.

Waitress: Does he treat you right?

Rachel: Somewhat.

Jake: Somewhat?!

Waitress: How is he, you know, in bed?

Jake: Excuse me? What the–

Rachel: (cuts Jake off) Adequate. I guess I can’t complain. Often. Though I could make a suggestion from time to time.

Waitress: Honey, couldn’t we all?

(laughter erupts between the two women)

Jake: Ha, ha. May I make a suggestion? That you remember who is leaving the tip?

Waitress: A little testy though, isn’t he?

Rachel: Oh, yea. He can be.

Waitress: Definitely something to take into consideration.

Jake: Well, maybe it’s because this proposal isn’t going the way I’d planned. Or hoped. I need an answer.

Rachel: I’m sorry. I just wanted a second opinion. Let’s go with the Tiramisu.

Jake: (exasperated) Son of a…somebody shoot me!

Rachel: What’s wrong, baby? You wanted the Ricotta cake, didn’t you?

Jake: (to the waitress) The Tiramisu. Please.

Waitress: Would that be with or without champagne?

(Jake hesitates)

Rachel: With. By all means. Can’t celebrate without it!

(The curtain closes on a smiling Rachel, and Jake, elbows on the table, head cradled in his hands)

Getting Away (Or, How to Stay Sane as an Artist)

I’ve just returned (unscathed, mind you) from my annual trek into the deep woods with the sole purpose of writing. Over the course of a few days, I worked on both the edits for the 2nd edition of Shadows and wrote several thousand new words in the upcoming horror novel. (I would share the title with you, but since I keep changing it, sharing at this stage in the game would be pointless.) What I will share with you, however, are a few thoughts I had while away. Keep these in mind the next time you choose to disappear into the woods for whatever reason…

  1. A cabin located deep in the woods at night with no cell phone service can be a very lonely place. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Relaxing? Yes. Distraction-free? Yes. Lonesome? Also yes.
  1. A cabin located deep in the woods at night with no cell phone service and the film score to Schindler’s List playing in the background can be a very depressing place. It took only two songs in to realize that. I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you’re a glutton for punishment and choose to ignore my recommendation, just remember to hide all of the sharp objects ahead of time. I’m not even kidding.
  1. The advent of Netflix goes hand in hand with lower word counts. It’s a proven fact. (By me, if by no one else.) Especially with the availability of full seasons of shows for which to binge on. (Did I mention you get lonely sometimes?) This is the first time I’ve had Netflix available to me at the cabin, and The Ranch proved a worthy adversary to writing more than once.
  1. While soaking in a hot tub deep in the woods at night can be a relaxing way to end a long day of writing, just remember to uncheck all horror film scores from your playlists before setting Spotify to ‘shuffle.’ Otherwise, the next scream you hear may be your own.
  1. When the words are flowing freely, so will the time. As with most trips away from home, when you are at your busiest is when time seems to go by so quickly. And in this case, it truly is a double-edged sword.
  1. Microwaved chicken pot pies make a respectable dinner when paired with red wine. (The vino of choice for this trip was Apothic Red.)
  1. And finally, with the world in chaos and life being as busy as it gets, it sometimes becomes necessary to check out for a few days in order to concentrate on being creative. Whether you’re a writer, painter or like to sketch a bit of still life, there are few places more conducive to creativity than the woods, completely isolated from civilization. And let me tell you, with the beauty of the environment, the surrounding wildlife and the fact there’s not a soul around for miles, if you can’t create art in that environment, then brother, you might as well give it up and find a different hobby.

So there you have it. A few thoughts.

Til next time, my friends…


All My Life

Being asked how long I’ve been writing has always been a trick question. The easy answer? Technically, my first published pieces were a couple of poems I’d written in 7th grade that the teacher printed and bound with string. Cool? Sure, but the entire class had poems in the book. It’s not that mine were all that special. I also have a couple of notebooks full of really bad song lyrics that I wrote in HS in the late 80s. Let me tell you, Faster Pussycat had nothing on me.

But if they want to know how long I’ve been writing SERIOUSLY, then that’s another story altogether. That didn’t start until I went back to college at the age of thirty-five…

(Cue the harp and flashback waves.)

When it comes to getting a college degree, there are core classes that must be taken despite your course of study: basic sciences, math, history, humanities and English. And that’s how I met the first of several people who have guided me on this path of becoming an author: Ms. Beki Test.

Thinking it might be fun, I elected what would become (unbeknownst to me at the time) the first of many composition and writing classes. Up to that point, I’d written four or five fairly rough short stories. And by rough I mean bad. Really bad. At least in my eyes, and that’s all that mattered because I hadn’t really shown them to anyone.

That was about to change.

One of the class assignments was to keep a weekly composition journal. Ms. Test would collect them every four or five weeks, grade the entries and hand them back, occasionally with comments written on the pages. Now, similar to my struggle to come up with blog post ideas, I could never think of anything to write about. Once I had a topic, I was fine, but getting to that point usually left me with a dented forehead from beating it against the wall.

As the semester wound down, I found myself in need of two last entries. For one, I expounded on how cool it would be to be a writer. The romance of it all, being published and having your name on the spines of books gracing the shelves of bookstores and libraries all over the world. Because to me, that’s what being a writer was. A dream so far out of reach for a regular guy in Ohio, that the very idea of being a writer never occurred to me, despite my lifelong love of books.

Still, I needed one more entry. As time ran out, I sucked it up and simply included one of my shorter stories for my final journal entry. The very thought of sharing it with someone made my stomach hurt, but I needed to cover my ass and complete the assignment so as not to tarnish my grade. (I was, after all, on the Dean’s List. Can you believe that? Yeah, me neither.)

Our journals were returned on the last day of class. Initially, I didn’t even bother opening it. I knew the story was bad, and the last thing I needed was some uppity English professor ripping it to shreds. (She wasn’t really uppity at all. It was just my insecurities building up their defenses. It happens.) But, a couple days later, my curiosity got the better of me and I finally broke down and flipped through the journal. You know how it is, no matter how bad you think you’ve done on a job, there’s still that small part of you that hopes for praise. Even a simple, ‘that’s actually not so bad.’

Surprisingly, the feedback I got proved more beneficial than that, and more than I’m sure Ms. Test was aware. Her feedback changed my outlook on what the essence of a ‘writer’ truly was. There, on the bottom of the last page of the story, right after the entry about how cool it would be to be a writer, were four little, yet significant words written in purple ink:

‘You are a writer.’

It sounds so simple now. Of course I was. I wrote, didn’t I? But it never dawned on me exactly what a writer was. I’d glamorized the talents of King, Hemingway, Puzo and all of the other authors I grew up on. Put them on such a pedestal that, skill and talent notwithstanding, a regular guy from Ohio could never attain such a position. But here I was with a very intelligent and respected English professor calling me (gasp) a writer.

Now, the story still sucked. But suddenly, that wasn’t the point anymore. The point was that you have to start somewhere, no matter where, and work up from there. The important thing is just to do it. Is my name gracing the spines of books in bookstores all over the world? Not just yet, but we’re getting there. The real question is, am I a writer? And my answer to that question is, hell yeah, I am. Not because of some status or position I’ve reached, but because that’s what I do. I write. So when someone asks me how long I’ve been doing it, I now simply say, ‘all my life.’

Till next time, my friends…

‘Tis the Season

Well, it’s that time of year again: the holiday season. The time of year for spreading joy, showing love, and if you’re a writer, being asked by all of your relatives when your next book is going to be out. Over Thanksgiving weekend, it would have been easier to have passed out ready made cards that offered a status update to all of my well-meaning (and very supportive) relatives. I felt like a broken record repeating the same story over and over. But, I truly appreciate the support, and having fans of your work is hardly the worst problem to have. So I figured I’d take a moment to let all of you know what I’ve been working on lately. (I know, it sounds a bit pompous to me as well, assuming that you even care. But if you didn’t, then you probably wouldn’t be on my site reading this anyway…)

The Winding Down Hours, my completed mainstream novel about the screwed up Taylor family and their fractured relationships, has been submitted to a host of publishers in the hopes that one of them will bite. It’s a long and frustrating process, but that’s life in the literary world, I guess, and welcome to it. Nothing good comes easy, right? The worst part is the waiting. Especially since I am a VERY impatient person by nature. I do have a timeframe in mind, however, where I will call off the search and pursue other options if no publishers show interest. If something happens with one of them, I’ll keep you posted. If not, look for this one to be released in time for Christmas 2017.

Horror fans, I haven’t forgotten you. The novel I’m currently working on revolves around an old, presumedly haunted theater. Or is it? Could there be something even more sinister going on? You’ll have to wait and see. For now, I’m keeping the title to myself, but look for this one Summer 2017. If everything goes right…fingers crossed…yadda, yadda, yadda.

So there you have it, my friends. Those are the main two irons I have in the fire. There may be other announcements in the coming months, but those will come in time. Thanks for all of your support, and don’t forget that books make great gifts this holiday season!

Til next time, my friends…

Let’s Go Cubbies!!!


As a lifelong Cubs fan, obviously I’d love to see a win tonight. It would be history-making. 108 years. That’s a long damn time. But because I’m a lifelong Cubs fan, having never seen my team in the World Series much less win it, I have to say that, win or lose tonight, this experience has been amazing. When it looked like it was almost over in Wrigley and they were about to lay down, that’s when the team started fighting the hardest. I love this young team. I love every player on it. And I’m proud to carry on the tradition of being a Die-Hard Cubs Fan!

Meeting Your Heroes (apparently takes more nerve than I have)

From the time I learned to read until my early thirties, I read books from various genres of fiction. Mainstream best-sellers, mysteries, thrillers, adventures, a few classics here and there. Pretty much everything except romance and Sci-Fi. When it came to horror, I was a King, Saul, Koontz kind of guy. Once the 90s were over, however, and I’d blazed my way through most of their stuff, I got bored and went through a dry spell where I didn’t read much horror at all. So around 2008 or so, when the horror bug bit me again, I turned to that all too helpful tool called Amazon, searching for what everyone else was reading in the horror world. Eventually, I ended up purchasing three paperbacks to get me started: Brian Keene’s Dark Hollow, Bryan Smith’s Depraved and Wrath James White’s The Resurrectionist. And let me assure you, my life would never be the same.

I read Keene’s Dark Hollow first and thought, ‘Holy crap! Is this what I’ve been missing out on?’ It was so much different from King’s sometimes slogging prose. It was fast-paced, concise, thrilling. Then I read Smith’s Depraved and thought, ‘Holy crap! This is what I’ve been missing out on!’ More of the same. A modern take on horror. Finally, I read White’s The Resurrectionist and thought, ‘Holy shit! What was that???” (Let me just say that, while Mr. White is a very talented writer, he’s not for everyone, folks.) So for the next year or so, I went back and forth reading everything of Keene’s and Smith’s I could get my hands on. And that, my friends, is when I decided to take a break from writing heartfelt stories of everyday life and dip my pen in blood and start writing the horror. And I haven’t stopped since.

Fast forward to July of this year, where I had the surreal experience of attending a convention with these two horror masters. While I ended up in the same room with both Keene and Smith numerous times over the weekend, passed them both in the halls here and there, I never once spoke up and said hey, much less introduced myself. No fear of me embarrassing myself by being a fanboy, because, well, I’m just too shy for that nonsense. Besides, I’d convinced myself that the last thing they wanted that weekend was one more nobody kissing their ass. Especially an aspiring horror author. But, it was still cool spending a weekend in the company of these two, not to mention numerous other masters of the horrific that I have discovered and befriended over the years.

So why am I telling you all this? Jump ahead to next weekend. Imaginarium. Louisville, Kentucky. I’ve attended this con every year since its inception. And this year, I’m looking forward to it more than ever. Why, you ask? Well, because this year’s guest of honor is none other than Mr. Brian Keene. While I recently found out that we will not be sharing any panels that weekend (probably a good thing considering I’d undoubtedly get too nervous and make myself look like a wannabe amateur), I will, in fact, be doing a signing with Mr. Keene on Saturday afternoon. Though I’m sure he’s not nearly as excited about it as I am, I think I can handle it without embarrassing myself. Hell, I might even say hello to the man. But blabbering on and on about how his books not only brought me back to horror, but ultimately influenced me to start writing horror myself? Not a @#$% chance. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Until next time, my friends…

Temporarily Stepping Away From Horror (Or, Watch As I Bite the Hand That Feeds Me)

Yes, you read that right. I’m temporarily putting down my bone-handled pen that writes in blood for a softer, more gentle one. A pen that actually writes instead of scribbles and scratches. I’m sure you’re probably asking yourself, ‘why the hell would he do that right now?’ I know I’m asking myself that question. Especially at a time when things are really taking off for me as a horror author and my reach is continuing to expand internationally. (Love you too, Canada!) And the answer is very simple, if not a little cliché. The heart wants what the heart wants. Here, let me explain…

My current project, which at this time is still homeless, is an absolute labor of love. It’s a story I originally told way back in 2008 while in college. Back then it was in the form of a screenplay. As the years have come and gone, the plight of the Taylor family has stayed with me, periodically tugging at my shirt lest I forget about them. The problem with a screenplay is that, if no one actually takes it to the screen, then nobody hears the story. It’s like that proverbial tree that falls in the woods. So last year I decided to tell their story a different way. Through a novel. Which at this point in time, is about 90% ready for submission. (unless one of my remaining beta readers blows it up)

Now dramatic (dare I say, literary) writing is nothing new to me. It’s what I used to write almost exclusively. Love, loss and this sometimes screwed up thing we call life. Especially when my sky was much darker and complicated. Almost all of the stories in my Swallowing the Worm collection are this type. Plus, I actually have another similar novel about halfway done. It tells an equally ‘close to my heart’ story that I truly hope sees the light of day at some point. So although it is a labor of love, The Winding Down Hours is not a one-shot deal. I would actually like to pursue two lines of alternating genre releases. As much as I enjoy scaring people and raising their heart rates, I also like to tug at those heartstrings and make them feel as well. (Some might say that my desire to make people cry can be attributed to the same mental deficiency that urges me to scare them.)

But have no fear, my readers of the dark and macabre. I am also currently hard at work on my next horror novel as well. And I think you’re gonna like it. So those of you who choose to voraciously devour your books alone, at night, with the lights off, during a thunderstorm, be patient. It’s still coming. And those of you who have always supported this endeavor of mine, but value your sleep too much to pick up one of my books, I’ll have something for you to try out real soon.

Till next time, my friends…

Putting a Nice Stained, Moth-Eaten Bow on My First Scares That Care Weekend

Waking up on a Monday morning (@#$%!) after a con is kind of like waking from an intense dream. Or, a nightmare if it was a horror con. Only a good type of nightmare. The kind where you fight real monsters and kick their ass. Which is what we did at the Scares That Care Weekend in Williamsburg, VA last week. First and foremost, the convention is a charitable one, put on by Scares That Care, a charitable organization that raises money for those who fight childhood illness, burns and breast cancer every day of their lives. Check out their website for more info… www.scaresthatcare.org. Do it. Do it now. (or after you read the rest of this. That would be fine.)

Waking up the Monday after a Scares That Care Weekend is not much different than waking up after any other con. You’re just a little more groggy and have a little less comprehension on whether or not it was all real. I mean did I actually see Oderus Urungus from Gwar singing 4 Non Blondes karaoke? The cannibalistic Pluto (Michael Berryman) from The Hills Have Eyes sitting at a bar sipping mixed drinks and chatting with people over a plate of wings? WWE’s The Boogeyman (dude is scary!) lifting up an elderly woman like he’s about to perform a BoogeySlam, only to set her back down with a hug and a kiss after the photo’s been snapped? (I’m not even getting into Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and his insistence on not knowing whose head Negan bashed in on The Walking Dead’s season finale. I have my doubts.) Like I said, it all seems unreal. But my wife assures me that it was, so I’ll go with it. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

One thing I know that positively happened was that I did a reading for three people. Yes, three. And technically one of them was my wife, Julie, so I did a reading for two people. Yes, two. And technically one of them was my publisher. So yes, I did a reading for one very interested and enthusiastic listener. ONE! The room was so empty it created an echo, but the show must go on, so it did. My last reading drew about fifteen listeners, so apparently I’m heading in the wrong direction. But, I will say the doors had just recently opened to kick off the festivities, and everyone was still excitedly rushing around to take photo ops with their favorite authors/actors/cosplayers. So let’s chalk the lack of audience up to that, shall we? Anyway, the one audience member is an aspiring author who listened intently and asked her questions enthusiastically. We still took up almost the entire allotment of time, so she didn’t complain.

Speaking of authors, there were many great ones at this event, including one of my all-time favorites, Mr. Joe R. Lansdale. (why we don’t celebrate this guy’s birthday as a national holiday is beyond me.) He was incredibly down to earth and very cool to talk to. A natural storyteller of both fiction and non. As much as I love his books, I could sit and listen to him talk for hours. And I told him so as I thanked him for still doing these types of events and sharing his experiences even though he doesn’t need to at this point in his career. But no, I didn’t fanboy. I kept it in check and had a very short, cordial conversation with the man. I also met and shook hands with a few other authors I read, follow and respect in the business…Jonathan Janz, David Bernstein, Kristopher Rufty, Ronald Malfi among a handful of others. All authors you should be reading if you like contemporary horror. I, myself picked up a crap ton of books. At one point it was almost an even swap…sell one, buy one. Which is why I rarely make money at these things and will probably always need a day job.

Speaking of the business end of things, overall, sales were pretty good considering we were located upstairs and quite a few people we spoke to downstairs didn’t even know there was upstairs vending. Probably did as well as most cons I’ve attended where I was right in the middle of things. (It’s amazing how much interest is piqued at a horror convention when you mention one of your books came in at #11 on Horror Underground’s Top Twenty list for 2015.) As well as we did, my goal for next year is to be in the thick of things. (note to self…it will mean getting over your damn insecurities and finally introducing yourself to Brian Keene!)

Anyway, it was a great weekend filled with charity, good will and all things horrific. And if you’re into that sort of thing, they’re doing it again next year. But you’ll have to book your room early, because the host hotel fills up quick. (And then it doesn’t. And then it does again. And then it doesn’t. But I digress.) A HUGE thank you to my publisher, PlotForge Ltd. Been trying to get to this con the past two years and it took their help to make it happen. I am grateful beyond words. Thanks also to fellow authors C. Bryan Brown and Terri-Lynn Smiles for hanging with me all weekend. I couldn’t ask for two better people to share table space with.

Now, back to work on the next book so I can keep attending these things!