Blooded and Bashed…

This past weekend, I participated in an event that was a number of firsts, even as I was starting to consider myself a “regular” as this event game…

  • This was my first convention as an author.¬†I’ve been to other events where I wasn’t sure how books would be received, but never an actual convention. Fun fact: this won’t be my last convention this year, either. ūüėČ
  • This was my first horror convention ever.¬†Shocking as it might sound, I’ve never actually made it to a horror convention before.
  • This was the first convention I’ve attended on my own turf. Certainly not my first local event, but I’ll tell you: it’s nice to hear other people complain about the morning commute for once. Short drives could grow on me.

So what is Blood Bash? It’s an annual horror convention organized by the awesome people at MeggaXP that brings together fans, films, filmmakers, vendors, and a bunch of costumed (and plain-clothes) crazies for a day of celebrating the genre. In short: it’s a day of bloody good fun! (get it?)

The biggest difference between ALL of my previous shows and this one? Tone. Most of the time, people will walk by my table, take one look at my books and say, “That’s creepy.” They said it just as much at Blood Bash, but it was with more excitement than revulsion. It was a pleasant change.

Not that I’m opposed to bringing out such reactions in people. It’s amusing. It’s definitely what I signed up for when I decided I was going to write horror. But sometimes, it’s nice to be appreciated instead of just feared, you know? I definitely was not feared at Blood Bash.

There was a surprising number of authors roaming the convention – on both sides of the tables – including plenty of folks from the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.

But here’s the thing about a horror convention – or at least my take on this one:

I have honestly never been surrounded by such a great group of people in my life. Everyone was nice, friendly, courteous, and just having a great time. There were smiles and laughter aplenty. More than I’ve experienced at any other function, and easily matching any other convention I’ve been to.

Horror fans are the best fans, if I can be so bold (and I can).

Seriously. The people who put on Blood Bash have so much passion for this stuff. All of the folks were appreciative of each other, regardless of your function at the convention. Whether you were an attendee, or a vendor, or an artist, or a volunteer, the energy in the room was delightfully positive and, long a day as it was, it was a good time right up until the end.

You can definitely expect to see me at next year’s Blood Bash. You may see me at other horror conventions, but I hesitate… this experience set a pretty high bar. I might be a little disappointed trying to compare this experience to another.

Besides, it’s not every day you get to feed your bookmark to a shark wandering the aisles…

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No one talks about the research…

Actually, they do. Lots of them do. I tend to avoid those conversations because I don’t like to be distracted by research. A lot of my stories tend to be based on anecdotal experience and not proven facts, because that is how I live. My experiences are my own, even when other people have them as well.

In fact, there’s been more than one time in my life where I have that “I thought it was just me” moment. Sometimes it is a blessing, sometimes it is a bummer. Depends on the situation.

But research is both. I hate having to take the time away from the flow of my writing to look up that one word or object or something that I *need* for this part of the story. But it usually isn’t something I can just skip over, either. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a pantser (as in they who fly by the seat of) and not a prepper. I don’t do the research ahead of time. I brew stories in my head, and when they start boiling over, they go onto the paper.

I’ve tried to explain this to more than a few people over the years and often, I’ve gotten that same look from people. You know the one, it says, “That seems like an awful way to do things.” And maybe they are right, but this is how it has always worked for me.

I don’t say that as in “this is how it’s always been, why should i change?” I have tried many different ways of writing. This process works best for me. But I digress…

I just finished the first draft on an 8k story submission and thought I would share the things I bothered to stop and look up. Mostly because I find it fascinating all the things that come together in a story:

  • Population density in cities
  • Average square space of a city
  • Emergency first aid
  • Symptoms of blood loss
  • Handyman tasks
  • Storefronts (pictures of)
  • Blinds
  • Leaded glass
  • Grip tape
  • Firefighter’s helmet
  • Fire ax
  • Ax or axe
  • Work shirts
  • Padlocks
  • a host of synonyms and antonyms after the fact

…and I’ll be honest, a majority of this research was all for minute details for a single scene. A ridiculous amount of detail that most people will simply move past as the tension builds. I’m not offended, it’s what has to happen.

Writing, like filmmaking, is supposed to look easy. You want the audience to think about the story, not the amount of work you put into it. If they’ve been thinking about how much research you did to come up with that one object a secondary character is holding, then they’ve lost the story and you’ve lost them.

Anyway, I hope to have more news on this story in the near future. For now, you’ll have to be entertained by your own imagination.

A Cold December…

It’s here. The milestone I’ve dreamt about for an entire year. A milestone I’ve been dreading all November, but it’s too late to stop.

December is out today, which means that it is time to say goodbye to Ember. Time to lay the Intercalary to rest.

It’s hard to let go of characters, regardless. Whether you’re reading them or you’ve written them, you travel a distance with these people. You get attached to them.

(Yes, even when you’re killing them off systematically.)

So today is the day that I send the last of them off into the world.
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The cover is a placeholder. Brian has been unfortunately overwhelmed with real world responsibilities. The black and white cover will be updated shortly. The remaining color covers will follow. I hope you’re looking forward to seeing his work realized as much as I am.

But it’s certainly not the end of surprises.

With December out, I will be turning my focus to physical copies of the serial installments. If you happen to be in Lake Orion this weekend, I’ll be at Orion Township Public Library for the Authors and Illustrators Fair and I will have copies of January on hand.
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I’ll be releasing the series throughout the beginning of 2017.

As if that weren’t enough excitement for 2017, January will find me seeking comfort with familiar company. I will be returning to the Delaney House to start writing House of Thirteen Book Two. I can’t reveal much just yet, but I can tell you that it will be nice to catch up with Ren and Joe again.

There will definitely be other surprises along the way. 2016 has been an interesting year, and I feel like the only respectable response is to raise the bar for myself once again.

Get December, and please remember to review online. It’s much appreciated.

The End is Near…

November is upon us, and with it, the sad realization that there is only one final installment of At Calendar’s End left to bestow on you all.

To say this has been a satisfying task is to cheapen the concept of satisfaction. I honestly wasn’t sure I could commit to it. As I began to get through the story, I was sure that I would somehow falter, or fail. Yet, month after month, I have continued to deliver, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

Next month, I will finish this story, for better or worse.

I’ll be very excited to this through.

In the meantime, I’m sure you want to know what’s happening to Ember and Nova. Click Brian’s always beautiful cover below to get your copy.

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Summer is over…

The days are getting shorter. The dark is lasting longer. October is already upon us.

Before you know it, October will be over too… but not without a fight, I assure you.

October marks the part 10 in the At Calendar’s End storyline. Good will fight, but will they triumph? I can’t tell you that without spoiling anything. You’ll just have to find out for yourself.

Brian is hard at work on coloring the cover, but we’re presenting the black and white version while you wait. I promise it will be well worth it. Brian’s art always is.october_inks

Just in time for a holiday…

The end of summer means the last great hurrah: one last family vacation, one last weekend at the beach, one last big cookout. One last chance to bask in the sunshine and warmth. A final opportunity to lament airborne pests.

If that’s you, I would love nothing more than to encourage you to download a copy of September, the newest installment of At Calendar’s End for your Labor Day relaxing.

I would love to, but I’m not going to.

As I have been informed (repeatedly) by a certain loyal reader, At Calendar’s End is not “easy” reading. It has also been (playfully?) suggested that a support group be started for readers of the series.

In light of this news, I cannot in good conscience suggest you go out on your last holiday weekend and read something that might traumatize you. If previous installments have been hard to deal with, September will prove the rule, not the exception.

So enjoy the sun while you still can. When you have had your fun, come back to the series, it will be waiting.

But don’t wait too long, the Intercalary don’t have much time left.

Schedules being what they are, the finished cover for September has been delayed. It will be going through some iterations, but I will update as soon as humanly possible. With this in mind – and the holidays looming – we shall see how it effects future covers as we finish out the series. The stories, however, will continue to be delivered to you on the first of each month, as promised.

As always, click the art of the talented Mr. Ritson to be directed to Amazon.

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Half Way Home…

It’s June! 6 months into the year, leaving 6 months to go.

We’re halfway through the Calendar. And we’re half way to the Calendar’s End.

If I may say myself, this is the point in the story where things start to get a little screwy. Maybe a twist has been revealed, maybe it’s a zig instead of a zag, maybe it’s a purposeful left turn.

Needless to say, things are not looking so great for the Intercalary, and by the end of June, things are going to look a whole lot worse.

As always, you can click the cover here to be directed to the Amazon page. If you haven’t read At Calendar’s End yet – or if you are missing an installment, look in the Amazon description for links to the rest of the chapters.

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