Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dead Stop Extra

I spent a little free time using Paint to draw up a floorplan of the Textro Truckstop featured in Dead Stop. It's scale is off, but it's effectively free hand so it's not too bad. While I thought the layout as described in the book was fairly intuitive, that was as the writer which means I KNEW what it looked like before setting finger to keyboards. I noticed in a couple of reviews that some readers were a little confused, so I figured that made it my duty to draw up something to help.

I'm not sure how I will make it available. Maybe I'll create a Blogspot site for Dead Stop, just like I did for The Ways of Khrem, and put it there. I suppose I could always look into trying to figure out how to insert graphics into manuscripts again, although I still find that idea a little intimidating.

Oh well, just keeping busy.

Edit: Remember, this is a rough draft. The back door should be more in front of the closet, and the Men's restroom should be a little longer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Building a Better Monster

Writing Dead Stop was a very involved project for me, in more ways than one. I knew when I started it that I would be writing for a sub genre that had become incredibly crowded as of late. Zombies were big…still are…and it was going to take some real doing to write a story that had a chance of standing out in that crowd.

And of all the different elements that went into that story, I think one of the most important things I did was rewriting the monster in order for it to make sense.

The problem with a lot of monster movies is that it seems they are written with the idea that the audience will just accept the existence of the monster…just because. There is often a little bit of origin involved in the story, but just as often it’s paper thin and doesn’t go to much effort to make sense, or have the monster behave in a manner logical to the nature that has been created for it.

So when I decided to write Dead Stop, I read a bunch of zombie books, watched some zombie flicks, and even checked out a couple of zombie websites. Then I sat back and gave it some real thought, and worked to rebuild the monster from the ground up. After careful consideration, and some research, I chose to go with the graveyard variety of zombie. Then I worked out the most likely (if still impossible) scenario that such a creature could actually come into existence…and more importantly, how it would perform and behave if such a thing really existed.

I have learned that is very important in writing monster stories in these days of more sophisticated readers. To be really frightening, a monster needs to feel…possible. It needs to be grounded in a plausible scenario that makes sense to the audience, and behave in a way that realistically adheres to the logic such a creature would follow. Make it feel real.

I find myself employing that strategy once again, with a current short story/novelette I’m writing. Taking a monster commonly understood to be one thing, then breaking it down and looking at how such a creature could make sense to a modern reader, while at the same time projecting how such a creature would act, react, and otherwise behave in the world. You can even do this with a supernatural creature, which is what I’m doing now. The creature in the story is a succubus, and now that I’ve researched and come up with a plausible angle for such an entity, the story that has formed around her is not what I thought it would be…it’s better. I love it when that happens.

So that’s my thoughts on writing monster stories at the moment. It’s something I didn’t start out knowing (you can tell by my early monster stories) but it’s a lesson well taken.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


It's a new year, with all the challenges and opportunities that come with it.

2012 was kind to me, in that I  published one novel and one novel sized anthology of stories. The novel even turned out to be a moderate success. I learned how to time and target marketing a little bit, and I hope to apply some of those lessons with my next release. But that success also came with a "learning opportunity" as I ended up spending the entire autumn marketing, tracking sales, following reviews, etc...and not getting hardly any writing done.

So resolution number one for 2013 is that I will only check on that kind of stuff once a week. Friday will be my day for that. Other than that, my job is to try and put that stuff out of my mind so I can get back into the mindset needed for writing.

One of these days some enterprising small publisher may try adding a marketing branch for indie writers who already take care of the other stuff, but that's an idea for a future post.

But back to 2013.

Anyways. My resolutions this year amount to more reading, more writing, less internet. More proteins, about the same fats, less carbs, and hopefully less me. More kiddo time, more meditation time, getting back to cooking real food (start watching the food channel again) and getting out of the house a little more often..

That oughta about do it.