Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Goals

Happy End of 2012.  

Well, we survived the Apocalypse, and all the trials and tribulations of the last 12 months. Whew!

A year ago, I set a set of insane writing and production goals for 2012. I was prompted, in part, by the advice of long-term professional writer Dean Wesley Smith, who also had set himself impossible production goals.

At the time, I knew it was a stretch (well, impossible really), but I wanted to challenge myself and do more than I'd done in all the years before.

And I did. Although I fell far short of my stated goals, I accomplished and published more in one year than some writers do in their entire careers.

First goal- produce a book a month, 12 in all.
This included novels and story collections. I had a backlog of many stories, and learned how to put these into collections and sell them as books, producing both ebooks and print versions.
7 of these story collections got published, and my second novel, for a total of 8 books. Short of the 12 goal, but still a great output. Am I happy to have met "only" two-thirds of an impossible stretch goal? You bet.

Second goal- produce a story a week for sale in ebook format, 52 total.
I quickly found that the time and resources to do this was at a level that could not be sustained. You need careful editing, a good cover image, formatting, descriptions, and adding the links everywhere.
I did the first four stories, and stopped, realizing it was more important to produce new material. So I really fell far short on this goal. Am I happy to have abandoned this goal? Nope. Would love to have over 50 stories up for sale, but it'll have to wait.

Along with all that came other writing milestones.

I wrote new stories, and had modest success, with sales and publications.

I finished writing most of the third Zack Taylor mystery novel "A Shadow on the Wall." That'll be out soon.

One past story was selected by Every Day Fiction to be in their upcoming "Best of" anthology.

One new story appeared in the charity anthology Nightfalls, where I'm in with some pretty good new writers.

I was selected as one of "50 Great Writers You Should be Reading" by the national radio program The Author Show.

I'm a weekly guest on WUML (91.5) radio, speaking with host David Tierney about writing.

I've had numerous talks and signings, attended shows, and made many new contacts in the writing world.

All this-- plus publicity-- has to be done when not at my day job.
So no excuses for not writing!

For the coming year of 2013, here are my new writing goals.

Again, from the advice of Dean Wesley Smith, I'm going to shoot for an average of 5000 new words a week, for a grand total of a quarter-million by year's end.

That's the equivalent of four good novels, and 4 is the number of books I plan on publishing in 2013. Still pretty ambitious.

So what are your goals (writing or otherwise) for the coming year?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Welcome Chris Dabnor

Chris Dabnor is another writer with a cool story in the Nightfalls anthology for charity. Let him tell you about it, and his links are below. Take it away, Chris.

When Katherine invited me to write a piece for the charity anthology 'Nightfalls', I didn''t have to think too long about it. Since she first decided to publish one of my short stories, she's been supportive of me and my work.  So, I had a theme, I just needed a story.

My first idea was to have a protagonist who keeps hearing songs about the end of the world - REM's - End of the World, U2's Last Night on Earth and so on, and slowly begins to realise that they are portents. I had the idea, but didn't feel I could tell it as a short story. It also reminded me a bit of something that Gaiman had done with Constantine in an early Sandman.

I kept thinking about the music and decided on a story about a DJ who decides to host a radio phone-in running up to the end. REM still make it in there, but only as a brief nod. I realised, that, for the story to work, I needed a nice, pretty end of the world, something that could be accurately predicted and instant when it came.

So, I began researching extinction level events. They're generally not as quick or exciting as you'd expect, it seems. It was whilst researching the end of the world that I received the amazing news that my partner was pregnant. Realising that you're going to be a father for the first time changes your perspective on the apocalypse. Suddenly the world meant so much more to me - it had become the place that my baby is going to grow up in, and it is a beautiful and terrible place. 


Chris Dabnor's Twitter account is @dabnorfish, if you wish to contact him, or see his drunken ramblings on a Friday night (Saturday 22nd, he might be praying for the world to end...) 

His poetry collection Interstitial can be purchased here.
And his short story collection Silver Snakes here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Story Out

My latest story is out at Over My Dead Body, an online magazine. And you can read it for free!

It's a pithy little gem, a flash crime story, short and to the point.

Hope you like it.

Don't forget-- if you want a chance at a number of free ebooks, we have a big holiday giveaway-- check out a previous post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nigel Bird's Work May Be Dark

Hello All-- Here's a Guest Post by Nigel Bird, author of some pretty gritty tales of crime and punishment. The post will tell you where he's coming from-- so if you want writing that's down and dirty, grab his work.


‘Grim, but really good.’

--That’s what Ian Rankin thought of Smoke.

Ian Rankin. Creator of Rebus. Inventor of Tartan Noir. A master of the writing craft.

You can imagine how delighted I was when I read those words. It was one of those moments when I felt I’d been given permission to call myself a writer and it’s those kind of moments that allow me to grow.

His quote is what it says on the cover of the book. It had to be used, didn’t it?

I guess that’s the question I’m posing here.

The comment separates into two wonderful halves.

Let’s take the grim.

I’m all for a bit of grim. There’s something in my psyche that can always find the shadow at the end of the rainbow, just as I can find a beam of light when the world is pitch black.

I’m proud to be in a collection called Grimm Tales (Untreed Reads) and the brothers Grimm were amazing talents as far as I’m concerned.

I do wonder what the average reader thinks when they see that quote, mind.

Does it make them want to get away quick, or is there something about it that draws them in? I can’t answer that and I’m hoping that there might be some comments so that I can gauge it.

Keeping that word ‘grim’ in the line is very important to me. First of all, it would be cheating to cut it out and simply say ‘Really good’ Ian Rankin. It’s not what he said. Secondly, it’s accurate.

What it might do for me is keep out those who have no interest in this kind of book.

I had a review recently for one of my collections. It’s called ‘Beat OnThe Brat (and other stories)’ and there’s a fairly aggressive cover. The reviews are amazing and often mention the difficult aspects of the work. Then this reviewer suggests it’s horrible because there’s so much violence and swearing. Fair enough, they’re right, but if such work isn’t for them I think I left enough of a breadcrumb trail away from the thing. I’ve had others for my novel, too. A couple of 1 stars from people who were shocked and horrified that such stories exist. That’s partly the dilemma of a giveaway as people click ‘buy’ without thinking too much.

But I digress. He said it was grim. It is. There are dog fights, killings, kidnaps, torture, easy sex and violence. It’s set in the very real world of a Scottish sink estate (or scheme). You won’t find much hope on the surface and should you dislike a world painted in these [honest] colours, it’s definitely not for you.

Then again, there is hope. You see, I did paint in some bright lights if you’re prepared to feel the story unfold. True, they’re hardly the vast bursts of a Turner painting, but they do exist.

And now to the ‘Very good.’

I don’t want to blow my trumpet too loudly, but I think it really is and it’s also why I’m here, to let you know.

I can also say that it’s even better than it was when Mr Rankin read it as I was given a serious lesson in editing by the publisher Allan Guthrie of Blasted Heath.

Which leaves me where I am, with a novella that I’m really proud of.

If it’s not for you, you’ll know it. If this lights your touch paper, why not go and check it out?

Grim – definitely.

Really good – I think it is, yes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Featured on Nigel Bird's Blog

Now I'm featured on another blog, courtesy of Nigel Bird, a well-known fellow writer who also appears in the Nightfalls anthology, alongside my story "Our Lady."

His story is awesome. The collection is awesome.

And it's for charity. A children's charity. So don't you know someone who'd love a good book for Christmas?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Shadow on the Wall Coming Soon- and Big Holiday Giveaway

This is the 400th posting on this blog-- and to celebrate, we've got some
great news for you!

First- we're in the editing stages of A Shadow on the Wall, the third Zack
Taylor mystery, out soon from Rosstrum Publishing.

This is the long-awaited followup to A Fall From Grace, and Zack gets into even deeper trouble.

If that's not enough of a Christmastime gift for you, how's this?
To celebrate the holiday season, a bunch of authors and publishers decided to get in the spirit of things-- and we're all giving away free ebooks and stories!

Wow, you say-- how do I get some of that? Look below for authors and links.
Follow directions to email them, or leave a comment on their blog (with your email) and tell them which book of theirs you'd like to win!

Around Christmas, each author will select a lucky winner for each book, and notify each person on how to collect.

Feel free to enter on all author sites-- giving you mutiple chances to win!

Here's the current list, but check back on this page-- we'll add more books as other authors get in the giving mood! Most books are available in multiple ebook formats.

Debbi Mack, NY Times Best-Selling author, is offering her Sam McRae mystery, Riptide:
To enter to win, go to her blog My Life on the Mid-List and leave a comment saying, "I'd like to win Riptide."

Vlad Vaslyn is offering Brachman's Underworld, novel of Stephen King-like horror.
And a copy of Yorick, a creepy novella.
To enter to win, go to his site and give him your info.

Cathy Dougherty is offering In Polyester Pajamas, a fun read of women's fiction:
To enter to win, go to her site and give her your info.

Rich Feitelberg, fantasy author, is offering two stories:
Sans Boat
The Last of Her Kind
Go to his blog and enter a comment stating which item you want, and in what format (PDF, Kindle, ePub). Be sure to include a valid email address.

Katherine Tomlinson has three to give:
Toxic Reality
Poisoned Teat
12 Nights of Christmas
Go to her blog and comment, telling her which book you want (leave your email). She'll pick winners on December 20.

Pete Morin is donating a book and a story:
Diary of a Small Fish
Club Dues
Drop him an email and let him know what you'd like.

Brian Hammar has got a pair of books and a pair of stories for you as well:
Wind Castle
Anastasia's Quest for Wind Castle
Fisherman's Justice
Drop him an email and let him know what you'd like:

Ann Everett is offering her books:
Laid Out and Candle Lit
You're Busting My Nuptuals
Check her website and send her a message via any of her contact points, and say "Ann, I'd like to win... (your choice)"

Rosstrum Publishing is offering a slew of books, both fiction and non-fiction!
Go to the website to check out the books, select Contact Us, and leave them an email with your book desire.

How to Improve Your Interviewing Skills

366 Tips for a Successful Job Search

Lawless in Brazil



The Dave Maynard Spin (Coming soon- check the website)

And of course, there's my offerings-- I'm giving you a shot at all of them!
Leave a comment on this blog (with an email), or email me, and tell me what you'd like to win!
You can enter for multiple books, but you can only win one.

A Memory of Grief

A Fall From Grace

A Shadow on the Wall (Coming soon- check the website)

Crooked Paths

Fables and Fantasies

Apocalypse Tango

Strange Tales

Halls of Horror #1

Halls of Horror #2

Jumble Sale

Any of the stories, too:

Froggy Went A Courting

Our New Queen

The Little Guy

Blades and Butchery

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stephen King- writing Rock Star

Friday night at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, over 3000 people got to experience something rare-- a public appearance by renowned author Stephen King. He'd been lured from his lair by the wiles of his writer-friend Andre Dubus III, and the welcoming folks of the English department of the University of Massachusetts. They'd somehow convinced him to come talk to people in a public forum.

Making the night even more special was the private VIP reception I got to attend beforehand, courtesy of friends with connections.

King was my writing instructor back at the University of Maine, and I haven't spoken with him since  the 80's. Here's an article I wrote about him a long time ago.

So I got to say hello once more, and even got to hand him the book of horror stories I'd written and dedicated to him (Halls of Horror).

Didn't get a picture of us together, though-- because of people pushing their way in rather than wait their turn. And none of the photographers present snapped one at the time, either, dang it.
Ah well.

Did get a mini-interview with John Collins, a reporter from the Lowell Sun, though, who wanted to hear about me signing a book for King, instead of the other way around.

King was gracious and charming, some folks almost swooning in his presence. He passed out kisses and hugs, signed books (and other things), and made people feel special, like they'd touched greatness.

It was a magical night, and even King said he felt like a rock star, as this was his first “arena show.” The fans came from all over the world. I talked to a young lady from Quebec, and on her right were folks from Ireland and Holland, who'd made this stop as part of their holiday here in the States. Other people had driven or flown hundreds of miles- from Chicago, Pennsylvania, and some from the West Coast. Because King's fans are rabid-- and they were not about to pass up this extremely rare chance to hear him.

His talk was the stuff of legend. He was witty, funny, brilliant, inspirational, and deep. He read from a new work (wow- we heard a world debut!), and chatted with Dubus on stage in a laid-back, friendly way, both in comfy chairs that were later auctioned off. His rough-hewn, folksy, unassuming manner is just like Maine, his home.

Best of all, it was for a good cause, a King scholarship fund for the University. He dedicated his speaking fee to the cause, and they raised over $100,000 for the fund that night.

You just won't find other writers who could fill a room that size, entertain the hell out of the audience, and even leave them with a final scare before they left. The man is a writing industry, a giant among writers, a caring and giving man, whose generosity is well-known. His fans are rabid for a reason, because his characters live and breathe, and teach us that we can be better when faced with incredibly tough and scary decisions. We may not have to face a vampire or a demon, but the everyday horrors we encounter take as much courage to fight as any made-up monster.

I spoke with two photographers, and would like to thank them for the photos.
Anne Kuthmann
Bruce Lepore

Here's a few links from the media

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Charity Anthology is out!

It's out as of today!

Nightfalls: Notes from the end of the world (Kindle edition)
A charity anthology in which twenty-nine writers from three different countries present their unique visions of the end of the world in half a dozen genres.

Folks, some of these writers have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (a very prestigious literary award), and the stories are good ones. All the proceeds go towards a children's charity, so you get to help out while enjoying good writing.

Help spread the word and make it a better holiday for everyone.

Yeah, I've got a tale in here, and it's a good 'un- "Our Lady."