Saturday, June 12, 2021

Our big night at the Literary Crawl of the Boston Book Festival

We had the most terrific night at the Literary Crawl of the Boston Book Festival.

I was there with fellow writers from the Sisters in Crime. It was my first live book event in a year and a half, held in the lovely Starlight Square in Cambridge. 

Perfect weather brought a big crowd to hear six of us put together a mystery from audience suggestions.

The audience was into it, and we had a lot of fun for everyone crafting a mystery story on the spot. 

Here's some of those attending: L to R are Clea Simon, Sarah Smith, Kate Flora, Leslie Wheeler, and myself. Not in the shot is fellow panelist Carolyn Wilkins


Here are the ladies with the booksellers at the event from All She Wrote Books


And the booksellers set things up to sell books for us. Great getting new fans!







Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Latest Novel Out

 Got the latest novel out in ebook form, with print and audio to follow. 

This one's a change of pace.

Welcome to Resurrection, a former mining company town with too many dark secrets, where science and religion form a shady alliance. Sixteen-year-old Judy Winstead is forced to move there with her recently widowed mother, but finds few allies among the tight-lipped townsfolk. People who stand out or speak out endanger themselves, while dreadful experiments and worse take place in the caverns and tunnels beneath the town. 


You can get it here for now.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Interview With Author Tom Deady

 Today we've got another treat, an interview with author Tom Deady

Tom was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has endured a career as an IT professional. He has a Masters Degree in English and Creative Writing from SNHU, and is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the New England Horror Writers. His first novel, HAVEN, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. He has a number of other titles, including his new one, Of Men and Monsters--


Let's find out more...

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. Like many kids growing up in the seventies, I read a lot of comic books. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I leaned toward stuff like Unexpected and Tales from the Crypt. But what fascinated me as much as the stories and the artwork were those ads in the back. Charles Atlas (yes, I was the kid that got sand kicked in his face), X-Ray Glasses, and, of course, Sea Monkeys. I always wondered, what if they just kept growing?


Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. I very rarely outline. I start, as you said, with the germ of an idea, and let it grow. Sometimes that’s a single scene or even just a character. Of Men and Monsters started out being just a fun “creature feature” story. Kind of a throwback to something you might have found in an old comic book. Then, as often happens with my writing, the characters took over and told a very different story.


Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. There is a very strong coming-of-age vibe in the story, and of course the creature plays a role. In the end, I guess the theme is that humans are the real monsters. 

 
Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. I think it’s important for people to see they aren’t alone in their struggle. Domestic abuse is a real problem, and its victims are harmed emotionally and psychologically in addition to the physical abuse. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a kid to go through this, wondering why they’re going through it, thinking they did something wrong. Maybe someone reading this will be helped, even in some small way.

 
Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. For me, it’s all about the characters and creating empathy. If I don’t care about the fate of a character, the best plot in the world isn’t going to keep me reading. That goes for both the good guys and the bad guys. Sometimes, it’s just as much fun to root against the villain as it is to root for the protagonist. What I really like is the gray area in a character’s make-up. The hero who’s done bad things to survive or the serial killer who donates all his money to an orphanage. It’s the complexity of these characters that really intrigues me.


Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you? 

A, The coming-of-age theme is prevalent in horror. The “big three” in that category, for me, are:
It by Stephen King
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons


Q. Each of these classics has had a major influence on my writing. There’s something about the magic of childhood and the importance of friendships that draws me to read these stories and to want to write them. Like King said in “The Body”: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?“

A. Regarding the “people are the real monsters” I don’t think you have to look very hard to prove that one, just watch the news. But it’s also been examined quite a bit in the horror genre. Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a great example. The cruelty exhibited by the townspeople is what ultimately drives the story to its sad conclusion. Revisiting It, Bev’s father, Eddie’s mother, Bill’s parents, and numerous other adult characters represent evil in a different form than Pennywise, but evil nonetheless. I hope I’ve captured some of that in Of Men and Monsters.


Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions?

A. I hate to answer any question like this, but it can be both. There are stories that retell or modernize fables that include a “moral of the story” or a lesson to be learned. There are cautionary tales and stories with strong themes that really make the reader think. But, as Stephen King said in 11/22/63, “Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke and a story's just a story.”
 

Q. Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. It really depends on the story. I always start out just trying to tell a good story. Sometimes, certain themes come into play based on a character’s behavior and I decide to use that, to focus on it throughout the story. In Haven, for example, the concept of redemption was evident with Paul Greymore from the start. As the story progressed, I was able to weave that theme into the arc of other characters. Usually, when I write short stories I tend to focus mainly on plot and the recurring themes or morals don’t develop within that word count restraint.


Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
 
A. I feel like I started this journey so late in life that I have a lot to catch up on. I have no shortage of story ideas, and plenty of goals to achieve. I think every writer would like to see their work made into a film or television series, that’s a reach goal of mine. Winning the Bram Stoker Award for Haven was such a surreal and overwhelming experience, I’d love to be in the running again. Mostly, I just want to keep writing, and help other writers or aspiring writers in any way I can. I had a small writers retreat organized in 2020 but the pandemic put an end to that. I plan to revisit that as (hopefully) an annual event that people look forward to. I don’t know, I have a lot of things I want to accomplish!


Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise?

A. I wouldn’t say I write fast, but I don’t do a lot of rewrites. I like to get the story out of my head for the first draft as quickly as I can. I’m constantly taking notes throughout the process, and when I do the second draft, that’s when I layer in any recurring themes or add foreshadowing. The second draft is also where I try to create a specific atmosphere for each scene. I bring the five senses into play, add description to the setting or characters, and tailor dialogue to match the mood I’m trying to create. Then I do one more read and fix anything I find wrong. After that, it’s off to the editors for a red ink bath!
 

Q. When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. Most of the time, I’m very happy with it. I’m always excited to be “done” with a story and eager to hear how it’s received once it’s out in the wild. There was only one instance where I was getting tired of a story because I’d done so many rewrites. But, it was all worth it – the story was better for all the extra work. Editors know their stuff!


Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. I have a couple of go-to editors I use regularly, Ben Eads and Linda Nagle. In addition to the fundamental tasks of grammar, word use, and punctuation, Ben and Linda challenge me to dig deeper into a plot or take bigger chances with my characters. I can honestly say that there are very few changes they suggest that I don’t accept. Both really know their stuff and are exceptional to work with.


Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I had a lot of help when I was starting out. The horror community is an amazing group of like-minded people who will do anything they can to help an aspiring writer. I’d like to do that as well. As far as advice goes, I think the worst advice for a new writer is the old “write every day” saw. It’s an intimidating and overwhelming concept for someone who is probably working a full-time job and raising a family. I like to modify it to say write as much as you can. Set a reasonable word-count goal and try to achieve it. It’s amazing how quickly those words pile up!
 

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. Many of my books are available in audio form. I think it’s a great medium, especially for folks who have long commutes. My dream is to have a film or television adaptation done. I think Haven would make a great one-season series on Netflix or Shudder. Of Men and Monsters, on the other hand, would be a great episode of Creepshow. A guy can dream, right?


Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. I have my first YA horror novel coming out this summer. The Clearing will be published by Vesuvian Media Group on August 10th. I’m really excited about this one and I’m already working on book two in the series. Next up is the sequel to Eternal Darkness. I ended that book on a pretty big cliffhanger and there are a few fans that may show up with torches and pitchforks if I don’t get the sequel out. I’m hoping to get that one published by the end of the year, early 2022 at the latest. I’ve also got a ghost story novel and a zombie-type novel almost ready to go, and a creature feature novel underway. I just need more hours in the day!


Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I was an extra on the first season of Hulu’s Castle Rock. I was a proud member of the Castle Rock Sheriff’s Dept. Unfortunately, there aren’t any scenes where you can actually tell it’s me. Oh, and the rules during filming were pretty strict (they made us give up our phones) so I don’t even have a picture of myself in uniform. You’ll just have to take my word for it.


Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?

A. I’d just like to thank everyone who’s supported me over the years. Far too many people to name and I’d surely forget a few. As I mentioned, the horror community is amazing and I’m thrilled to be a part of the family. Also, thank you, Dale, for giving me the chance to ramble on about myself and my work.

---

Web page: My web site is https://www.tomdeady.com/ where you can purchase signed copies of my books and sign up for my newsletter.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Interview with Author Vin Zandri

Today we have a treat, a chat with author Vin Zandri

Vincent Zandri  is the  New York Times  and  USA Today  best-selling author of more than forty novels and novellas. His books have won the ITW Thriller Award, the Shamus Award, have been nominated for the Derringer Award, and have been translated into many languages. A freelance photojournalist, he is also the creator of The Vincent Zandri Vox. He lives in New York.

He's got a new book out: Paradox Lake, available where all good books are sold.


Let's find out more:

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A, Paradox Lake started out as one of those writing in the dark experiments, a la Dean Wesley Smith and perhaps even yourself. I used my ex-wife and my daughter as the protagonists. I make a sort of cameo appearance as one of the characters. I also use one of my best college friends as the bad guy, something I often do. Thank God those guys are especially good-natured people. I guess I wondered what it would be like for a mother, who is an art teacher at a local college, to take a fall semester sabbatical and to head up to the mountains, and in particular to a cabin on Paradox Lake. Her daughter would come along and be home schooled, even though the daughter naturally hates the idea of leaving her friends for a few months. But the mother really wants to bond with the daughter, since her oldest daughter and husband have both died. I took it step further and wondered what would happen is the mother ends up falling in love with a general store owner up in the town of Paradox and all does not go quite right. That's about as far as I go explaining. Don't want to give too much away. In any case, I found that the novel sort of wrote itself. Oceanview Publishing picked up right away in a "nice" deal.  


Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. No. Like I said, it was sort of writing in the dark, with just the characters kind of floating around in my mind. I never map things out anymore after writing 50 novels, publishing 40 of them, plus novellas and short stories. I always imagine what would logically happen next and that's what I write, and like the great Hemingway once said, I always know where the story is going the next morning before I finish up for the day. That way you don't get stuck. 


Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. One woman and her daughter against the world (this one, like my novel The Remains, is told from the POV of a woman, which I seem to do fairly often). Or if you want a tag line, "Stay away from the Paradox Lake!" 

 

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book? And what makes a good book or engaging story?

A. I think most of my books are a sort of anthropological study in one man or woman up against the most dreadful situations imaginable. How do they manage to get out of it, and stay alive? It's also a study in fear and dealing with that fear. Do they panic and lose it? Or do they suck it up and fight back? I think deep down inside we all wrestle with fear to a degree, and I think that might answer why my standalone psychological thrillers like The Remains, Everything Burns, The Girl Who Wasn't There, and others have sold hundreds of thousands of copies altogether. I'd like to think the plots and the stories resonates with readers. Also, I write short, pithy chapters that keeps the reading going all night. If I can get them to stay up an extra hour, telling themselves, "Just one more chapter...just one more...just one more," than I've done my job. 

 

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. I haven't read a lot of Stephen King but the little I have read has definitely had an impact on my more scary thrillers like Paradox Lake and The Ashes. Charlie Houston is another great hard-boiled writer who has influenced my more recent fiction, especially his Hank Thompson Trilogy which is just genius. he should have won some major awards for those books. I have to admit, there isn't a whole lot of writers who knock me out, but when I find them, I want to read all their work. I just read a spectacular novel by Jonathan Ashley called The Cost of Doing Business from Down & Out Books. I loved it so much I decided to read all his stuff. But it turns out he killed himself not long ago. I don't think he was 40 years old. I called the publisher at Down & Out to ask if it was true and he confirmed it. He has one more novel of Ashley's to publish posthumously. 

 

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. I don't think of writing in those terms. I can act all professorial about it and say something like, "Going back to the stone ages, telling stories around the campfire was a way to both entertain and teach..." but we've heard all that before. Oddly, enough, if I'm entertaining myself while writing a novel, I think of it as entertaining the reader. You can tell when an author is just mailing a bunch of shit in just to get a check. 

My goals are nothing more than to write for a living, no matter how humble at times, and to make my fans happy in the process. Is this my measure of success? Maybe. I've been broke as a writer and I've made hundreds of thousands as a writer, and during both periods, I never stopped my word count. Not for even a single moment. 

I recently read a great Bob Dylan quote in a terrific book by Dale T. Phillips, How to be a Successful Indie Writer. It goes something like, a success is someone who wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night having spent his day doing what he wants to do

Note:  (I swear, didn't pay him for that!  :-)  )


Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. More recently, and this might have something to do with the Pandemic and literally ten years worth of changes occurring in the publishing business with in 12 month period, I've decided to really fill up my indie list with more short stories, novelettes, and more indie novels. I'm presently working with about five publishers, from small to big, and I'm finding they are having more and more trouble on the marketing end of things. And advances are getting smaller and smaller. I've been a hybrid author for a long time, but I find myself leaning more and more towards indie. As for the personal side of things, for obvious reasons, I haven't traveled at all in more than a year. I'm used to spending three months overseas every year. So as soon as I am able, I'm hopping a flight and not coming back for a long, long time. I'm not married and my kids are grown, so nothing's stopping me.  

 

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. I do very little rewriting these days since I edit as I go. I make sure every chapter is right before I move on to the next one. It's a more efficient way of writing. For a novel I write a first draft, then make a paper copy, go through it with a red pen, make the corrections to the manuscript, read it over once more and then hand it in to my agent who, once upon a time suggested edits, but almost never does anymore. I also work with a really good editor for my indie books. She catches everything and more. She doesn't come cheap but she's worth it. 

 

Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. Looks like I just answered this one. In a word, they see things and pick up on story omissions that I can't or would never see. You can't put a book out, be in indie or traditionally published, without the help of a good editor. I've also had editors fuck up some of my books. I won't name names but the editor for When Shadows Come, which was put out by Thomas & Mercer, could have done a better job. I'm tempted to ask for the rights back to that one and release the real version prior to their edits. But hey, it was still chosen by Suspense Magazine as one of the Best Thrillers of the Year 2016.


Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I think I'd tell them to write a lot. Write all the time, read a lot and watch movies and TV series. But only the stuff they like watching and reading. Then I'd suggest maybe trying to publish a book traditionally, but not give it too much time. Put a limit on it, say, like a year. If the book doesn't get picked up, find a really good editor, get it edited and put it out on your own label. 

 

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. My agent, Chip Macgregor, is constantly fielding calls from Hollywood producers including Sylvester Stallone, who reads my work. But I have yet to have a TV series and/or movie made. But the good Lord whispers in my ear at times, "Just be patient, buddy. All good things in time." 

 

Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. Writing the next sentence, and the one after that, and the one after that. Then heading out for a beer and maybe a Jameson. 


Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I'm five feet seven inches tall and I tower over both Don Winslow and Scott Turrow. I also work out for two hours per day and in the summer, divide my day between writing and fly fishing. Now there's the life, my friend. 


Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?

A. If you wish to become a successful author, avoid politics, religion, trends, and political correctness. Just be yourself and write what you love to read. Thanks for having me Dale. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

More news- upcoming events! - UPDATED

Hello once more in the merry month of May! It's busy time!  UPDATED

Hope you got your vaccines to keep people safe. 

Many of us are looking to be entertained- so here's a bunch of events to do that! 

I had a great interview with Chris Upton of the Freethinker's Corner, an independent bookstore in Dover, NH. It's now up! 

https://www.facebook.com/freethinkingreader/

Or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXjRvwpSniU


And talented writer Dave Zeltserman was on Friday night. 

More guests throughout May! 


Saturday, May 15, 2021 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, I'm giving an online ZOOM class in Suspense for 

the SEVEN BRIDGE WRITERS' COLLABORATIVE

Hosted by the Thayer Memorial Library, 717 Main Street, Lancaster, MA

https://sevenbridge.org/event/using-suspense-in-writing-with-dale-t-phillips/?instance_id=663


I was on the panel discussing Technology Revolution: The Future of The Self-Publishing 

Wednesday, May 12, at 10:45 AM - 12:00 PM.

https://www.facebook.com/TechnologyRevolutionTheFutureOfNowRadio/videos/314852656800597


On Tuesday night, May 18 at 7pm: I'm moderating the Tewksbury Writer's Night, (sponsored by the library) and we talk about How To Get & Survive Reviews, with special guest Tilia Klebenov Jacobs, the bestselling author of two crime novels, one middle-grade fantasy book, and numerous short stories. She is a board member of Mystery Writers of America-New England. HarperCollins describes her as one of  “crime fiction’s top authors.” Tilia has taught middle school, high school, and college; she also teaches writing classes for prison inmates.


On June 10th, I'll be part of Boston Book Festival's Lit Crawl 2021, on a mystery making panels with Clea SimonElaine IsaakCarolyn Wilkins,   Tilia Klebenov Jacobs, and  Kate Flora.  

We'll be at Starlight Square (which I think is the parking lot behind what used to be Harvest) at 6 PM for a 40-minute set. There WILL be book signings afterward! 



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Interview With Writer Kevin Lewis

 Hello again! Spring is here, and time for another interview- this time with writer Kevin Lewis.

He's a graduate of Emerson College. His stories have appeared in publications such as Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Sonar4 Science Fiction and Horror E-zine, Hocus Pocus & Co., and FunDead Publications. 

His novella, The Catcreeper, is available from Unnerving as part of the Rewind or Die book series. Kevin is a member of New England Horror Writers and resides in Massachusetts.



Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. Originally,  The Catcreeper was meant to be a short story that ended up turning into a novella. The first draft was about 10000 words. I started it back in seventh grade and it was one of my first horror stories I worked on. I had been reading Stephen King and decided to write a King-esque story.  I worked on this story for about twenty-five years. In the past several years, I started submitting it to small press publishers and was met with rejections. Then, I stumbled upon an open submissions call from Unnerving. They were looking for horror books to be part of the Rewind or Die book series. The editor, Eddie Generous, was looking for horror stories that would remind readers of the horror movie titles they would peruse in the horror movie section of a video rental store in the 80’s and 90’s: crazy, over the top and gory horror films. I thought  The Catcreeper fit what Eddie was looking for, so I did another edit and submitted it. It got accepted.
 
Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?
           
A. I didn’t write the first draft based off of an outline, or notes. The story and characters just poured out of my head and onto the page. As the years went on, and I revised the manuscript, I would write notes in a notebook, or I would free-write additional scenes in a notebook and type them on the computer later on.
 
Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?
            
A. I think what makes a good book and even an engaging story are characters readers can relate to, and a plot that will interest them. 
 
Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. I have many writer influences: Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Tom Deady, Joe Hill, Brian Keene, Sarah Langan, and Tony Tremblay. They are all phenomenal horror writers and I have learned a great deal by reading their work. What attracts me about their work is how they take ordinary and everyday characters and throw them into these scary and horrific situations. These amazing writers have taught me that caring about certain characters and what happens to them  is truly what makes an effective horror story.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. For me it’s mostly entertainment. I enjoy telling stories, and I love scaring people. What’s fun for me is creating different characters and throwing them into these horrific scenarios and seeing how they fare. Who will survive? Will they defeat the monster or will they fall prey to it? 
 
Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A.  I definitely revise a lot, and I probably too much revising. After a while, you just need to say to yourself, “I’ve done all I can.” That’s when I will either hand my story off to a beta reader, editor, or submit it. Ultimately, whenever I submit a story to a publisher, I am always confident that it is the best version of the story. Lately, I have been challenging myself as a writer. I am trying to write more cosmic/Lovecraftian horror because it is such an interesting subgenre of horror. Also, I’d love to dive into non-fiction, particularly true ghost/haunting stories. I enjoy reading them and would love to write one as well.
 
Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. For my novella  The Catcreeper, Rob Smales and Stacey Longo from S & L Editing edited one of the drafts. They did a phenomenal job editing for grammar, prose style, plot and character issues. Tom Deady beta read a version of the book  and provided very helpful feedback on plot and character issues. 
I worked with Amber Newberry, who edited the anthology, ONE NIGHT IN SALEM, which featured my short story, “A Ghostly Tour.” She and I went back and forth on suggestions for improvement in some of the scenes. For example, she helped me on the logistics of a car crash in the water in Salem, MA. Editors and beta readers can be extremely helpful to a writer in pointing out story issues that a writer might not be able to see.
For my recent publication in the anthology, THE BLACK STONE. STORIES FOR LOVECRAFTIAN SUMMONINGS, I workshopped a version of the story, “Trapped on the Night Shift,” in a creative writing class. I received a lot of helpful suggestions.
I have also had the good fortune of taking writing seminars with Christopher Golden and James A. Moore through their River City Writers group. Those seminars were invaluable, and I received constructive feedback on a young adult horror science fiction novella I’m working on, as well as seminars on contracts and pitching. 
 
Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I would say start with short stories. Submit them to magazines and anthologies. That’s a great way for editors and readers to read your work. Also, writing seminars and college/university courses are great ways to hone your craft, especially if they are taught by writers that you admire. Lastly, beta readers can be immensely helpful in terms of advice on your manuscript. They can point out areas of improvement in your story from plot to character issues.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?
            
A. I could see  The Catcreeper as a movie, especially a Made-For-TV movie on the SyFy channel. I think it would make a cool creature feature film. A visual medium would alter the telling by—if effectively done—providing the audience and reader of the novella the look of The Catcreeper (the monster in my novella). The audience could put a face to my description.
 
Q. What's the next step in your writing world?
            
A. Currently, I am writing a Middle Grade horror novel. I’m also planning on revising a young adult horror/science fiction novella, and a feature film horror screenplay. I enjoy the screenwriting format and would love to work in movies and television. Recently, my short story “Trapped on the Night Shift,” appeared in the cosmic anthology, THE BLACK STONE. STORIES FOR LOVECRAFTIAN SUMMONINGS.” This horror anthology was curated by Raffaele Pezzella, and the book is accompanied by a music CD called THE BLACK STONE. MUSIC FOR LOVECRAFTIAN SUMMONINGS. As a fan of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, it was an honor to be published in this anthology alongside terrific writers such as Ramsey Campbell, Richard Alan Scott, E.A. Black, and Edwin J. Buja.
 

Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?
            
A. Thanks for interviewing me, Dale! It’s been fun. For those who read my work …Happy Nightmares!
 
---

 



Friday, April 2, 2021

Interview With Author and Agent Paula Munier

Hello again. Today we're honored to present Author and Agent Paula Munier

She's a USA TODAY bestselling author of the Mercy Carr mysteries. A Borrowing of Bones was a Mary Higgins Clark Award nom and named Dogwise Book of the Year. Blind Search, inspired by the real-life rescue of a boy with autism, also won a DWAA award. 

The newly-released The Hiding Place is now out. 

Paula credits Mission K9 Rescue, her own rescue dogs, and her beloved New England as her major influences. She’s also written three books on writing: Plot Perfect, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, and Writing with Quiet Hands, as well as Fixing Freddie and Happier Every Day.


Q. You wear many hats in the writing world: former reporter, editor, literary agent, non-fiction writer, and now award-winning novelist. How do you fit it all in, and decide what to work on next? Do you have habits of particular writing times?

A. I just work a lot. Seriously, like many of my clients, I have a day job as a literary agent, which I love and which takes up most of my time. I write at night and on weekends and whenever else I can squeeze in some scribbling. I work from home, so my time is my own to schedule. Although the pandemic has kept me from traveling (I used to spend a week a month in Manhattan, go to conferences, etc.), and I miss writing on planes and trains and buses.


Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. I had a title, because in the struggle to find a title my publisher liked for BLIND SEARCH, THE HIDING PLACE proved the runner-up. And my editor suggested that I write a cold case story. My heroine Mercy Carr’s late grandfather was a sheriff, and I figured that the cold case could be a missing girl he’d never found. This missing girl haunted him—and now she’d haunt Mercy.


Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. I wrote a book called PLOT PERFECT: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene, in which I set out ways in which writers can plot out their novels before writing them. So I have always outlined first. That said, I’m writing Book Four now, and I’m going way off script. We’ll see how it turns out. 


Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)? Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. THE HIDING PLACE is about, well, hiding. Not just about how we might bury secrets or treasure or dead bodies, but also about how we might conceal the truth from others and from ourselves. Most important, it’s about how we hide who we really are from others and from ourselves.  


Q. What makes a good book or engaging story? 

A. Great characters and good storytelling. As my editor likes to say, “They come for the mystery, and they stay for the characters.”


Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. When you’re writing a series, anything and everything is fair game. I read widely (I am an agent, after all) and so I draw inspiration from everyone from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver to Alice Hoffman and Julia Spencer-Fleming. Lately, I’m obsessed with Elly Griffiths and Attica Locke. And I do make a vision board and a playlist for every book….


Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. I believe in storytelling as a basic human need: Food, clothing, shelter, and stories.  


Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. I’m just trying to get through Book Four.


Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. When I send to the book to the publisher, I’m usually rushed. And I revise like crazy.


Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. My editor is Pete Wolverton at St. Martin’s. He’s a genius (and I don’t say that lightly, having been an acquisitions editor myself for nearly twenty years). I listen to what he has to say. He’s never steered me wrong, and my books are far better for his input. If I need feedback before I turn in the manuscript, I go to my own agent, the wonderful Gina Panettieri, and/or Dana Isaacson, editor extraordinaire.


Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I’m an agent. I’m besieged by writers asking for help. I do what I can when I can. I also wrote three books on writing, do lot of workshops and conferences, and I’m a founding member of Career Authors. 


Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. My books are available as audiobooks, read by the amazing voice actress Kathleen McInerney aka Veronica Taylor. She’s fantastic. She makes me sound good.

As for TV/film adaptations, I’d give myself the same advice I give my clients should the opportunity arise: Take the money and run.


Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. Book Four.


Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I make really good gumbo ;-)


Sunday, March 28, 2021

NEWS for Spring

Lots happening in the writing world these days, keeping me busy.

And bookstores are reordering my books!

First off, just got a great video review (my first) for Shadow of the Wendigo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrD1P0FL0y



My book How to be a Successful Indie Writer is now out in print, joining the ebook and audio versions.

Just got a terrific 5-start review on that one, too!



I'll be moderating a talk with Eddie Vincent of Encircle Books on Tuesday, April 20th at 7 pm. 

Sponsored by the Tewksbury Library-- register here: 

https://tewksburypl.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/virtual-program-tewksbury-writing-group-8/


I'll be giving a talk - sponsored by The Freethinker's Corner Bookstore via Zoom on 

Thursday, May 6 at 7pm. 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/may-is-for-mystery-w-dale-t-phillips-tickets-148439752295


I'm giving an online class in Suspense for the SEVEN BRIDGE WRITERS' COLLABORATIVE

Saturday, May 15, 2021 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Hosted by the Thayer Memorial Library, 717 Main Street, Lancaster, MA

https://sevenbridge.org/event/using-suspense-in-writing-with-dale-t-phillips/?instance_id=663



Saturday, January 30, 2021

Welcome Back

 Hello campers- yes, it's been a while since I've posted here.

Life kinda kept kicking us in the nethers, so I've been dealing with all that.

COVID scares, health issues, job woes, the country being betrayed by traitors trying to overthrow it, family not being here for the holidays, and massive depression. Too much life stuff to deal with. 

So- the job was taken away, and several friends are in similar situations. Tough out there.

So if anyone needs a good editor, I'm available. 

At least the daughters got to visit for a late Christmas (though no gifts- the first time ever). 

It's been months since I published anything, though I've been working on various projects.

This is year 10 since I got my first book published, the first book of the Zack Taylor mystery series (A Memory of Grief- only $2.99 on Kindle). 

I have to hustle to finish a set of goals I'd set for myself back then- to publish 10 Novels, 10 story collections, and 100 stories. 2 novels to go, and that should happen by Summer. Have to write and submit about 25 more stories, however, so it's going to be busy. 

And once that's done, it's on to much more! That's just the beginning. 

I'd like to get this blog back up and host interviews and great content, so check back. 

Stay healthy and sane.