OK horror hounds, it’s time for some basic training. I understand there are a lot of new recruits out there, and even some lifers, that need the foundation to become a true horror aficionado. Now, put your chainsaws and machetes down and listen up. I’m going to give you a list of books and authors you must know inside and out. Are you hearing me Private Pyle?
Decades later and I still obssess over Full Metal Jacket. I’m not going to say you look like 50 pounds of chewed bubble gum. I won’t raise my voice. I’m simply here to open your horror eyes a little wider. Shall we begin?
This is what you should read to see how a master works their trade. I’m only leaving out Stephen King because he’s soooo obvious.
Algernon Blackwood. Get your hands on everything he’s ever done. Read it at night and enjoy your nightmares.
M.R. James. I can’t count how many horror writers cite him as an inspiration.
Richard Matheson. He’s the author of I Am Legend, Hell House, the best Twilight Zone episodes and Kolchak, The Night Stalker. “Nuff said.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Maybe the scareist haunted house novel ever written.
The Store by Bentley Little. So close to the truth that it’s terrifying.
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert. I’m always astounded by how many folks in America have never heard of Herbert. He’s only like the Stephen King of the UK. You can’t lose with any of his books, but I highly suggest you start with this one. He just passed away last month, so cherish each book as you tread down the path of discovery.
Curfew by Phil Rickman. Another UK import, Rickman’s books can be hard to find, but when you do, treasure them.
Richar Laymon. He was taken from us way too soon, but thankfully he was prolific. Almost every up and coming horror super star waxes poetic about his books. My favorites are Bite and One Rainy Night.
Ghoul by Brian Keene. Yes, Keene may be responsible for resurrecting the zombie genre, but Ghoul is still my favorite.
Oh no, I’m not stopping at 10. My list goes to 11.
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. Words can’t express how great this book is.
You have your list, now hit the bookshelves. Hard. Stay tuned for part 2 where I highlight movies.
And if there are any books/authors you feel should be on the list, speak now or forever hold your peace.
The ball has dropped. The confetti is now in a landfill. Your diet plans have already been thrown to the wind, ready to return for a couple of days next January. The Twilight Zone marathon has passed the signpost up ahead that reads : Hey, time to get back to work!
I’m not big on resolutions because I know that 99% of them are yesterday’s dreams by the end of January. The only ones I’ve been able to keep are the resolutions that pertain to writing. For me, writing has always been my escape, my sanctuary, and now it’s also an income-providing business. All the more reason to get my ass in gear and hunker down. I admit, I took a total break from writing most of December. I needed it. My brain, like a chicken wing, was fried. At times during the holidays, I could actually hear my cells vibrate as they recharged. It was a wise decision to step back for a bit. But rest time is now bye-bye.
I figured I’d start with a list of resolutions that would benefit others as much as myself. Writing is a lonely business and sometimes we need some outside influences to kick us in the pants. Consider this my loving tap on your authorly keister.
Here are my 2013 Writing Resolutions:
1. Read More. I know I’ve stressed this in other articles and interviews. You can’t write if you don’t read. Plain and simple. I must read 75 or more books a year. I know I can do more. The number one rule is to turn that damn TV off as much as possible. Naturally, I read a ton of horror novels. But i’s also good to branch out to other genres, as well as the classics and self-help books. It all leads to personal growth. In fact, this year, I vow to read at least one romance novel. It’s the last genre out there that I haven’t touched as a reader. Any suggestions?
2. Write. Write. Write. Even though I didn’t write over the holidays, I did think about what my projects will be for 2013 and hit the library to do research. What are my exact goals? I will write at least one novel from start to finish (revisions included). I want to write one novella, if not two. I need to get back in the short story swing, so I’ve set a goal of writing at least a half dozen shorts. I also want to write and publish a collection of true ghost stories in time for Halloween. There, that should keep me off the streets.
3. Query new markets. Yes, I have an agent that does a lot of this for me, but I can’t have her do all the work. This is my career, after all. I need to be more aggressive this year and see if I can open some new doors and different writing opportunities.
4. Pitch a story to a TV/film production company. I have a few ideas/stories that I can lead with. Now I need to figure out how to go about this. I’ll research on the internet and reach out to other authors that have had success pitching their stuff. Getting a development deal is one of my bucket list things, so I better get on the ball.
5. Attend more cons and writers conventions. I already signed up for a couple of writer’s organizations while I lounged around watching Arrested Development in my sweats. I intend to go to a few national and local cons to mix and mingle and learn a thing or three. I’ll also show my face at more horror cons, like World Horror Con, Horrorfind, KillerCon and Chiller Theatre. That’s always a fun time!
6. Keep my writing area organized. This seems like a little thing, but it’s far from it. I spent 4 hours cleaning out all the crap that had accumulated in my little writing space during the year. This year, it’s getting a monthly sprucing up so things don’t get lost in the shuffle.
7. Find new ways to market my work. As a writer today, you can’t fall alseep at the switch when it comes to marketing. There are always new services popping up that can help you get the word out about your work. Some work, some don’t, but you have to try. As an example, I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon last year, but learned after a few months that it wasn’t doing much for me. Hey, at least I tried.
8. Expand the scope of the Monster Men podcast. You’re going to see a lot of new stuff with our video podcast in 2013. We’re going to interview authors, directors, publishers, paranormal groups, you name it. Jack and I can’t wait to get started. If you’re any of the above and would like to be on the show, shoot me an email and we’ll work out a schedule.
9. Listen to more podcasts. I’m an audio podcast junkie. I spend a lot of time in my car with my radio, but I’m not digging what’s on the air. Since my car is old, I’m going out to get an adapter so I can play the podcasts on my Nano through my car stereo. Podcasts are great ways to inform, educate, entertain, inspire and gain more depth into whatever topic that interests you. I highly suggest Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast. Great stuff.
10. Rest. I’ve learned that you can’t run around juggling 100 things at once, 24/7, and expect to remain sane. So even though I’ve set a heavy workload for myself, I will make it a point to find moments to rest my mind, body and spirit. Sometimes you need to step out and let your subconscious do some of the heavy lifting. Believe me, it will all be there when you need it.
So, what are your resolutions for 2013? You don’t have to be a writer to set a goal roadmap. If you put it in writing now, it actually helps you work harder to achieve it.
It’s a great day here in the Shea neighborhood. My second book with Samhain Publishing, Evil Eternal, is now available and can be had a pretty damn good price (under $5!). I’m honored to be part of the Samhain family and have been impressed every step of the way since they took this orphan in last year.
Now, I’ve already given you an excerpt in a previous quote, breakdown of the book on my Books page along with some advance reviews. So, what the heck esle do I have to talk about (other than the various posts and article on my blog tour—see previous post)? I figured I’d give you a little Shea family snapshot and show you how Evil Eternal grew from a tiny idea to a full-fledged, demon-killing novel.
Way back when Bill Clinton was asking the world to define the word ‘is’, I got a spanking new computer. The best way to test drive that Gateway was to write a short story, preferrably something with larger than life characters, demons and gore. Hey, it’s what I was in the mood for at the time. Well, I cranked out a short story about this undead priest called Father Michael who stumbles upon scenes of carnage wrought by a demon called Cain (he of Cain and Abel infamy).
I wrote it, I read it, I liked it. So did other folks I showed it to. I went on to write another story, placing Father Michael in the NY sewer system seeking demons in dark, filthy tunnels. About a year after I had written both stories, a Bram Stoker nominated horror website came to me to see if I had any ideas for a monthly e-serial. I thought, hey, I’ve got just the thing!
So for a few months, I wrote new chapters for the website, leaving each on a cliffhanger. It was great fun. Alas, the website shut down well before the story was finished.
There were plans to make it a graphic comic and a great friend started preliminary artwork. Comic publishers were contacted, but no one took the bait. Oh well. I may be a big comic book reader, but I was never too saavy about the business side of the medium.
I had an ending that was just itching to be written, so I went back and finished what I started and had a dandy novella. And that’s the way it sat for quite a while.
Enter Samhain, stage right. As I was digging through my drawer of misfit manuscripts, I showed my editor the novella. The next question was, “Can you flesh it out and make it a novel?” Hell yeah, I can! I dove back into the Evil Eternal world and added a new beginning, ending and beefed up everything in between. I had a ton of fun writing it. This is ‘let your freak flag fly’ territory.
And now it’s finally here. Be sure to check in at the ‘ol blog and chain and the various blog tour stops for giveaways and fun. Next time you’re in church, thank a priest. They may save you from death at the hands of a demon some day.
I’m pretty damn good with secrets, but this particular one was killing me. Cemetery Dance Publications just announced the lineup for their newest anthology : Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. My story, Cry, will be surrounded by the work some utterly fantastic writers I admire like Norman Prentiss, Rio Youers and Brian James Freeman, just to name a few. Click on the cover image (makes me think of Sinbad movies) to learn more.
You see, for me, this is no small feat. This is one of the things I had put on my bucket list back when I got the crazy idea that I wanted to become a writer. “Buy a pipe and smoking jacket” was the first goal I put on that list, but I’ve since opted for cigars and motorcycle jackets. I’ve been an enormous fan of Cemetery Dance Magazine for about twenty years now. When people ask me what it is, I tell them, “It’s only the New York Times of horror.” I mean, duh!
If you want a Who’s Who of horror, all you need to do is visit the Cemetery Dance website and you’re in the thick of things. I was just asked by another uber talented writer how I landed a spot in the antho. The key is, it came when I wasn’t looking for it. I was at the Horrorfind convention last September and started talking to a writer who informed me at one point that he was on the Cemetery Dance staff.
He asked, “Have you ever submitted to them before?”
“I sure have, and I have a folder of rejection slips to show for it,” I replied with a sense of pride. Rejection slips are like war wounds to a writer.
“Even though they’re closed to submissions, I’d be happy to take a look at your stuff .If I think it’s right, I’ll show it to the editors.”
So, a few weeks after I got home, I wrote a story and sent it off to my new friend, hoping it would at least get consideration for the magazine. I doubted it would make it, and kept my hope stick mega-limbo-low.
A couple of months later, I get the acceptance email, only it’s going to be in one of their amazingly produced anthologies! Score! The hardest part was keeping it on the DL until they had the final lineup in place. Well, I can finally open my big fat mouth about it.
Publish a story with Cemetery Dance : check.
And I get to check it off because I went to a conference, talked to as many people as I could, and happened to meet one of the nicest guys in the biz who just happened to be connected to the Vatican of horror. (On a side note, going to at least one conference a year is a must and a hell of a lot of fun) That and I had to bust my ass to write the best, tightest story I could dream up.
Now I’m reconsidering tossing the pipe idea out. Hmmm…..
Check out the book that made this possible, Forest of Shadows! You always need that first domino to fall.
“You gotta dance with the one that brought you.” – Lyric and title to a Shania Twain song and a much older adage.
Everyone reading this has someone in their life that set them on their current path. Right now, it’s time for me to hit the dance floor.
When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to be, I usually gave one of two replies. I was either going to be a radio DJ (thanks to WKRP in Cincinnati) or a Playboy photographer. Mom was so proud. As I got older, my future plans grew fuzzier until my only goal was to make it to the next day, hopefully employed.
Did I want to ever be a writer? I think there was a three month period around the time I was 16 when it sounded like a pretty cool idea. After hammering out a couple of quasi-sci-fi stories, I opted to go cruising and hitting on girls instead.
So who brought me to the writing dance? I have one person to thank for that. His name is Norm Hendricks. I’ve mentioned him in some interviews in the past. It’s about time I gave him his full due.
You see, Norm and I meet when we got a job in customer service at the phone company. That job sucked so bad, I still have mental and spiritual scars as pink and fresh as the day they were made 20 years ago. It was a terrible place, run by dolts that would make Dilbert cringe. Norm was one of a handful of people who made going to work worthwhile. Plus, he was a fellow Mets fan, elevating him to the top of the good guy list. Better still, he made me laugh my ass off, daily. Case in point, in a department meeting with our new director, for shits and giggles, he introduced himself as Nemo Cranston. I nearly had an aneurysm holding in my laughter when the director replied, “It’s nice to meet you, Nemo.”
One day, I spied Norm working on a book and was intrigued. I thought writers all lived in cabins somewhere and lived full, rich lives that didn’t involve descending into the 7th circle of hell each day, hawking Friends & Family. Yet there Norm was, a guy with one of the funniest and most unique minds I’ve ever come across, working at his novel.
He took writing seriously, and I was blown away by his skill. With his encouragement, I started to dabble, terribly, but it became a wonderful escape from the banality of real life. Plus, it strengthened the bond between us. It was a win-win before that asinine phrase came into being.
Since that time, Norm has published three books: Forever Indian Summer, Monstrous and The Forgotten Sleeper, which I’m reading now and slack jawed with amazement at the concepts he’s woven within its pages. He hits on heavy topics with a poetry all his own, expressing ideas that I could only guess at in fever dreams. I read his work with a real sense of pride. And where others may only get to know him through his work, I’m one of the lucky ones to have watched him secretly throw Certs into people’s drinks at parties or performed with him on stage with a band of merry, musical misfits.
What inspires me more than anything is the fact that Norm writes because he loves to write. He doesn’t give a crap about what he could potentially get in return for his hard work. He is a true writer. He’s given more to me than he’ll ever know.
So yeah, my dance card will always have Norm’s name on it.
Who’s on yours? It’s never too late to dance.