30% Off All Samhain Books This Weekend

That’s right, you can save 30% on any of my books this weekend. All you have to do is hop on over to the Samhain website and enter the promo code SpringBreak2015 when you’re checking out. Now I know all you spring breakers want to just settle in with a good book and watch the clouds go by. ;)

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The End Is Nearer Than You Think!

Realistically, the end of me, you, or the entire world is always potentially the blink of an eye away. You just never know what the fates have in store. Isn’t that a pleasant way to start your day? I once studied with a Buddhist monk who taught me the most powerful meditation. In meditation, you can fixate on a breath or a singular thought – kind of like a mantra, something to center your mind.

The one he taught me was this – “I could die today.” We’d start by saying it out loud, getting quieter until it was an internal thought. The purpose was to realize how precious life was, and to savor each moment, not wasting it on endeavors and thoughts that would hinder our progress as human beings.

What if today is the day that turns your world upside down? What if everyone around you perishes, and you’re left alive, wondering what happened, why, and what the future holds? That’s the premise that started my summer release, TORTURES OF THE DAMNED. The release date is just 4 quick months away. With the world being what it is, the entire time I wrote it, I kept hoping it wasn’t a predictive tale.

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To prepare you for Armageddon…I mean the book…I’ve posted an excerpt from the opening chapter. The events in the opening actually happened in my neck of the woods during the Christmas holiday in 2013. It scared the crap out of us, and no one buys the story the authorities gave us. You can click hear to read the ‘official’ story. Read on and prepare your survival kits…


boom. Boom! BOOM!

The trio of explosions ripped the biting, January night air in two. Daniel Padilla was dozing between commercials when the sky exploded. He bolted from his recliner, as did his wife, meeting in the middle of the living room.

“I think the furnace exploded,” Elizabeth shouted, balling her fists tight at her sides.

“We wouldn’t be standing here if it did,” Daniel shot back. A framed picture of the family at last summer’s picnic at Orchard Beach crashed to the floor, making them jump. That last explosion shook everything in the house.

Footsteps thumped above them. The kids ran down the stairs.

“Mom, Dad, did something just blow up?” Rey asked. His youngest brother, Miguel, clung to his leg.

Daniel motioned with his hands for them all to calm down. “I’m going to check outside. It sounded like a plane. Everyone just sit tight.”

Max, Gabriela and Miguel crowded around Elizabeth on the couch. Gabby’s cheeks were smeared with tears, her stuffed koala Cody tucked under her arm.

He ran to the closet and threw on the first coat he found. It was a track jacket that belonged to his middle son, Max. It was a size too big for Daniel but it would do.

“I’m coming with you,” Rey said, slipping into his sneakers that he kept by the front door. He must have been lying in bed listening to his iPod because his short, jet black hair was flattened on one side. His ear buds dangled around his neck.

There was no sense arguing. Rey was a senior in high school now. Some days he was more man than boy. “Okay,” Daniel said.

The frigid air stung his face and shocked his lungs when he opened the door. Lights were on in every house in the neighborhood. A good number of porches were filled with people searching the sky.

No one spoke.

There wasn’t a sound to be heard. Even the wind had stopped. Daniel didn’t feel the powdery snow around his bare feet.

He looked up and down the street and over the houses opposite them. With his high front porch, he had a clear sight line to the Bronx border. All he saw were stars blinking in a clear, black sky.

When Rey spoke, Daniel’s heart did a triple beat. “How come there aren’t any sirens?”

He was right. Whatever had happened sounded as if something massive had been blow to bits. The screech of police, fire engine and ambulance sirens should be echoing around them.

“I don’t know. Go inside and see if there’s anything on the news.”

It was still a half hour until the eleven o’clock news, but Daniel was sure this would be breaking news on the local channels.

Buck, his next door neighbor, was on his tiny porch dressed in full winter gear and wearing his cowboy hat. He was a solid guy in his early sixties with, as he himself claimed, a body made by good beer and medium rare steaks. “Holy shit, Dan. What the hell do you think that was?”

The silence was becoming more disturbing than the initial blasts. Daniel wiped a sweaty palm over his face. “I have no clue, Buck. I thought for sure it was another plane going down.”

They’d both worked in lower Manhattan on 9-11. Neither would ever forget the sounds those planes made when they hit the towers.

“I’m gonna call a friend of mine on the force,” Buck said. “I’ll come over and let you know what he says. In the meantime, you might want to put something on your feet.”

Daniel looked down at his snow-covered feet. The sight of lurking frostbite finally made him feel the cold. He shook each foot, flicking snowflakes, and went back into the house.

 


You can pre-order TORTURES OF THE DAMNED on Amazon today.

To get exclusive info on Tortures of the Damned, be eligible to win signed books and more, join the free Dark Hunter Newsletter.

 

Writing Your Book – The Thousand Word March

I’m about to let you in on a secret that will help you write that book that’s been dying to get out. The best part is, you can do it without having an existential crisis.

It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything about writing in the trenches in this genre I love so much. Back when I was locking myself away in my room, tapping out words and getting nothing but rejection or worse, silence, I never dreamed I’d be in the position I’m in today. Sure, I did it with the goal of legitimate publication (whatever your own definition of that may be), but I just never thought I’d have a year like this one with three books coming out and writing four more for three different publishers for next year.

I’m not a full time writer. Writing doesn’t have health benefits, and if you’ve stopped by the blog and chain, you know I need them for my wife, who is the queen of auto-immune diseases. So I have a full time job that is more than that – it’s a solid career that can’t be ignored or pushed to the side. I have two amazing kids – teens now –the same number of cats, old friends, new friends, things to do and places to see every day.

The question everyone asks me is, ‘How in the world can you manage to write several books a year? Do you sleep? When’s the last time your family saw you? Or you saw the sun?’

My answer is usually that I just sit down and write because I truly enjoy the process. And yes, that is part of it. But what is the process?

Hunter writes

Basically, what works for me is something I’ve called The Thousand Word March – or TTWM if I’m too lazy to say or spell it out. When I started working with editors, I quickly found out that they think and talk in terms of thousands. Discussing the length of your work in progress, whether it’s a story, novella or novel, it’s all about word count, not the number of pages or file size of your Word document.

They’ll say, “I’d love it if you could get me that novel under 95,000 words, but no less than 90,000.” Or if you’re pitching a novella, they might say, “Anything between 28,000 and 50,000 words will do it.”

So, if they’re thinking in thousands, I had to rethink the way I worked and made my own projections. My first horror novel, Forest of Shadows, was a true labor of love. I worked on it for almost five years. When people asked about my progress, I’d tell them I was 185 pages in and so on. Come time to pitch it to the sole publisher I sent it to (fodder for a later post), I proudly stated it was 550 pages.

But to an editor, 550 pages does not translate. The number of pages I write will never equal the print pages in a book because of font and paper size, spacing, etc. It turned out my 550 pages equaled over 100,000 words, which was a little more than Samhain wanted at the time. So, I had to do some editing to get it under 95,000.

When it came time to write my next book, I came up with The Thousand Word March to wrap my head around the best way to proceed. Knowing that my editor would like something between 85,000 and 90,000, I looked at the calendar to see how long it would take me to get the first draft done. Since my editor also hinted that he’d like me to write two books a year for him, I knew I couldn’t just cruise along at my own speed. That’s a good thing. It prevents procrastination from rearing its ugly head. Nothing works better than a fire under one’s posterior.

Staring at the calendar, I thought, if I just did 1,000 words a day, I’d have a 90,000 word book completed in three months. Hmmm. A thousand words a day. I could do that. I don’t have tons of free time, but I almost always have time to write 1,000 words. In fact, as I started working on that book, I realized that even on a day when the words were hard to find, I could accomplish my mission within an hour. So, if I set aside an hour and a half each weeknight, I could hit my writing goal, that extra half hour spent doing all the other things a working writer has to do, like marketing, responding to emails and maybe tooling around with a short story.

On weekends, I shoot for 2,000 – 3,000 words a day. This way, I can finish ahead of schedule, giving me more time for editing later on. I know it sounds like a lot, but when you work at it all the time and get into a rhythm, it’s really not so bad. In fact, I’ve found that by writing on Saturday and Sunday mornings, before the day drains my brain, I can write far more in less time. The key is to get at least 7,000 words in a week so I can meet my goal of a full novel in three months.

Weekends are also a good time to catch up on days you might have missed during the week. Look, we all have lives to live and you can’t always find the time to write. Here’s what my past week looked like :

Monday – 1,900 words (I doubled up knowing that Tuesday was my day off, so to speak.)

Tuesday – nothing (It was St. Patrick’s Day and I’m Irish. ‘Nuff said.)

Wednesday – 1,100 words

Thursday – 1,000 words

Friday – 1,000 words

Saturday – 2,300 words

Sunday – 2,500 words

So, if my goal is 7,000 words a week, even taking a day off, I was able to write 9,800 words, putting me ahead of the game. Total time spent writing, marketing and other stuff – 10 hours. When you think of it, that’s not bad at all. I still had time to work, cook meals, watch movies, spend time with my family and friends and read. I read at least two books a week. I can’t function without my books.

Where do you find 10 hours? Look no further than your TV or YouTube or any other time suck. Turn ‘em off for a while. I promise, they’ll be there when you’re finished. Think of it as a reward for a job well done. What’s more important, watching housewife cat fights or creating your own work of art?

Some weeks are going to be far more productive than others. If you lock your mind on The Thousand Word March, you’ll always know exactly where you stand and what you need to do to accomplish your goals – all without having to become a crazed recluse.

Look, I know there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to writing. Everyone has to find their own way, just as they find their own voice. This is what works for me. If you’re struggling or feel intimidated by the blank page, give it a shot. The Thousand Word March can take you to some pretty amazing places.


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Sign Up For The DARK HUNTER NEWSLETTER

I know, even I can’t believe it’s taken me 4 years to finally get off my keister and start a newsletter. Well, better late than never, unless you’re talking about squaring off with a demon, in which case never is preferred.

Sign up for the DARK HUNTER NEWSLETTER today (all we need is your name and email address) and you will be showered with prizes!

  • Every person who signs up will receive a free short story
  • You will be eligible to win free signed books and ebooks each month
  • Receive the latest news not fit for print before the rest of the horror loving world
  • Be the first to read sneak previews of upcoming books
  • Take part in author Q&A where I will answer your questions, no matter how nutty, with custom video replies
  • Get advanced screenings of Monster Men podcasts

Oh, and so much more. Sign up is free and easy. Click here to join the madness!

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Alien Abduction Ain’t For The Weak

Why do I love alien stories so much? I swear I was abducted years ago. I do have a missing time moment from the late 80s. Can’t remember if I’d had too much to drink at the time.

Anyway, I recently came across Robert Dunn’s alien abduction novel, Behind the Darkness, and wanted to jump up and cheer. Finally, an alien novel that gave me the action and chills I’ve always wanted. Robert was kind enough to answer my fan boy questions. If aliens are your thing, buy this book now!

Everyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for all things alien. Your book, Behind the Darkness, is an alien abduction thriller that literally creeped me out. Please tell everyone a little about the book.

Behind The Darkness was imagined as Night of the Living dead with aliens rather than zombies. It grew quite a bit beyond that but I think that core, survivors trapped in a house by something unknowable but relentless and dangerous, is still there. Beyond that there was a love of the possibilities of alien abduction stories but a dissatisfaction with the ones I read. I didn’t want psychology, I wanted action. I hope I struck a balance between the alien terrors of the unknown controlling a life
and the survivor story of resistance against impossible odds. By the way, I am so proud that you said it creeped you out. That was exactly the kind of vibe I wanted to give and I always appreciate hearing that it works for someone.

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The ending leaves things open for a sequel. Is there one in the works?

There isn’t yet one in the works but I wanted the possibility there. There is a lot more that could happen with this story. That being said Behind The Darkness is a connected story. It takes place in the same world as my novel, The Dead Ground. Like a certain star writer sets horror stories in Maine and several mystery writers stake out locals like the desert southwest or Louisiana, I wanted to use my roots and develop a world in which the Missouri, Ozarks are the home of dark mysteries and terrors. I’m a redneck Lovecraft at heart, I guess. In The Dead Ground the characters are aware of strange events that had taken place a few miles away on the Duncan Ranch and dismissive of the idea of aliens even as they fight the undead and interdimensional tentacle monsters from caves filled with stars. Writing is fun isn’t it?

How did your fascination with aliens and the abduction phenomena start?

The stories really started becoming mainstream and coalescing around certain tropes in the early ’70’s when I was a kid reading everything weird and wonderful I could get my hands on. I had read about Barney and Betty Hill then saw the movie, The UFO Incident, based on their story. In 1985 I was approached by another writer who had a friend with a development deal for a movie but no idea beyond wanting to do something scary. That was when I started on this story in earnest but the flow for the film deal was going in the direction of undersea monsters. It had been ten years but people still wanted to do the next Jaws. I packed my ideas away and along came Whitley Strieber’s books about visitors. He never said alien but he added a layer to the idea of aliens and the mental terrors of abduction. I stewed some more.

You’re also a film producer. Which is harder, working in film or the lonely business of writing?

Writing definitely. There is no one to delegate to or lean on. When you are creating a filmed program any number of people can save you and probably will from the lighting guy that sets the kind of mood you didn’t know you needed with one well placed instrument to the editor or sound person that puts their stamp down and makes everything more. When I write novels or stories it is all on me. A good editor will improve things but it won’t even get that far if you haven’t done the heavy lifting already.

OK, I know I’m a freak who has watched just about every alien abduction movie ever made. Have you watched any yourself and which is your favorite?

I have probably seen them all too. It’s great living in the age of accessible media. I don’t have a favorite exactly because I always wanted more than any of them give. Details. Violence. Action. The movies are actually why I felt I had stewed enough and wrote my story. I wanted to take all those great elements, abduction, the aliens that had become an established even traditional monster, mutilations, hybridization, disbelieving, even hostile authorities, and make the best, scariest story I could.

Whitley Strieber’s book, Communion, seemed to start an industry. What are your thoughts on his work in the abduction vein? Is he in touch with ET, a higher plane, or delusional?

I’ve read that Strieber intentionally referred to Visitors to avoid defining them as aliens. He wanted to leave their origins open. Unfortunately, once an idea is out there we lose control of it and he ended up creating an entire alien mythos. As to the reality, I have issues. I am a narcoleptic. An aspect of that is vivid dreaming and a breakdown between the waking/dreaming state. It has happened many times that I have become aware but still under sleep paralysis. Both dreams and imaginings can become very real in those times and if you can’t move or speak the imaginings that come are rarely pleasant. So in my personal experience there are explanations for being under paralysis and feeling threatened by an evil presence. I tend to think that other people have reasonable explanations as well. That being said, I think Mr. Strieber has made our culture a little richer and provided a good living for himself.

Please let everyone know where to find you and your work and what’s coming up next.

Well of course you can find Behind The Darkness and The Dead Ground on Amazon and feel free to go in through my author’s page. http://www.amazon.com/Robert-E.-Dunn/…

By the way, Behind The Darkness just got it’s first review on Amazon, five stars from a top 500 reviewer. I’m happy about that.

Both of those books are published by the good folks at Severed Press. Everyone should check them out for great reads. http://www.severedpress.com/

I’ll let you in on a secret but just a hint- I have another book out and doing well under a pen name. The surprise, it’s a spicy romance. I challenge everyone to track me down. Coming up, there are two new horror novels. The Red Highway is an alternate history urban fantasy about an ancient god provoking the LA riots to cause the sacrifice of a child. The Harrowing is about a mercenary sent to hell to rescue an innocent. No one is innocent and the one lesson he learns is, never trust an angel. Red Highway is currently under requested publisher submission and Harrowing is making the rounds of some great agents.

Beyond that, I blog erratically at http://robertdunnauthor.blogspot.com/ You’ll find a fun story and the first chapter of The Dead Ground there. I tweet more regularly. Feel free to come say hi there, @WritingDead. Thanks again for the chance to share and connect with your readers.

For A Limited Time – FOREST OF SHADOWS and SINISTER ENTITY for 99 cents. Happy Friday the 13th!

Samhain and I want to make your Friday the 13th the creepiest ever. From now until March 15th, my first two ghost novels, FOREST OF SHADOWS and SINISTER ENTITY are only 99 cents everywhere ebooks are sold. If you’re new to my madness and just read ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, this is the perfect chance to catch up on where Jessica Backman’s obsession with the dead began. You’ll think twice before visiting a haunted house, learn what an EB is and why it’s sometimes best to let the dead rest in peace…or turmoil. So fire up your Kindles and Nooks and iPads before time runs out on the best offer Samhain has ever made!

You can pick up Forest of Shadows at Amazon, B&N, Samhain and other ebook outlets.

ForestOfShadowsV1

The dead still hate!

Something dreadful happened in the remote Alaskan cabin. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.

“With Forest of Shadows, Hunter Shea combines ancient evil, old school horror and modern style. Highly recommended!” — Jonathan Mayberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot and Ruin and The Dragon Factory.

  “Forest of Shadows is a frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won’t soon forget.” —Night Owl Reviews

SinisterEntity_v3Get Sinister Entity for 99 cents at Amazon, B&N, Samhain and all over the magical interweb!

How can you escape the ghost of yourself?

The Leigh family is terrified. They’ve been haunted by the ghostly image of their young daughter, Selena. But how can that be, when Selena is alive and well, and as frightened as her parents? With nowhere else to turn, the Leighs place their hopes in Jessica Backman, who has dedicated her life to investigating paranormal activity. Accompanied by a new partner who claims to be able to speak to the dead, Jessica will soon encounter an entity that scares even her. And a terror far worse than she imagined.

“This is the real deal. The fear is palpable.  Horror novels don’t get much better than this.” –Literal Remains
“Sinister Entity  culminates in a climactic showdown between human and spirit that keeps you glued to the pages!” — Drake Morgan for Horror Novel Reviews

Why You Shouldn’t Write Horror

Yes, that little piece of advice did come out of my mouth when I was on Jason Brant’s DRINKING WITH JASON. Jason’s a kick ass author as well who drives in the horror lane. He has a great concept for his show. He asked me what my favorite drink is at the moment, which for some reason has been Rolling Rock beer. We then sat down with a sixer and shot the shit for over an hour. During the show, we talk about our writing, movies, why The Shining is great as a book and a movie, true ghost stories and why Mama’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be horror writers. You don’t need Rolling Rock to enjoy the episode, but it can never hurt!

Jason also interviewed my Monster Men co-host, Jack Campisi. Check this out for sheer hilarity.

Who Wants To Build A Bigfoot?

I just got this ‘Mail a Bigfoot’ postcard with my delivery of squatchy goods from the International Cryptozoology Museum. You can cut out the Bigfoot parts to make your own little hairy guy. I’m going to mail my squatch to one lucky winner. All you need to do is drop a comment on this post with a way for me to reach you. I’ll do a random drawing in a week and announce who gets to adopt Mr. Foot. :)

Squatch PostcardIf you can’t get to the museum in Portland, Maine, you can visit it online, check out the curiosities, shop the gift shop or simply donate to keep the wonder alive. Visit their website for more!

Meanwhile, my new Bigfoot has made some fast friends here in the Shea compound. BFFs already!

Squatch BFFs

Find Your Next Great Read!

Night Owl Reviews has a pretty cool event going on March 1st through the 25th called FIND YOUR NEXT GREAT READ. I’m pretty darn excited to be part of the fun. Island of the Forbidden will be one of those featured reads. Here are the details :

Find great authors and books during this giveaway event! Read book blurbs and get entered to win awesome prizes!

For this scavenger hunt you will be reading book blurbs and filling in a missing word(s) from a sentence in the blurb.

You will be entered to win Amazon Gift Cards and eBooks.

Twitter #FindYourNextGreatReadHunt

Winner Announcement Chat: March 30th at 6pm PT / 9pm ET in our chat room

Night OwlThere’s also a scavenger hunt and Rafflecopter giveaway. Just click on the following link after March 1st to enter :

http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Blog/Articles/Find-Your-Next-Great-Read-Scavenger-Hunt-March-2015

For all you hardcore readers out there, this is custom made to feed your addiction! Come join the fun.

The Honeys of Hammer Horror In Your Hands

OK, I realize that was a bit of a cheeky title, but it’s true! The Monster Men take a deep dive into a wonderful book about the vixens of Hammer. It’s the ultimate coffee table book for horror fans. We also give some reading recommendations to warm up your cold winter nights.

Crack open a beer, turn down the lights and step into the Monster’s Lair!

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