I have a very special offer for all the Hellions out there who have dared to take the plunge into the Pine Barrens. If you go to Amazon and post a review for The Jersey Devil, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the review and the ebook you’d like to receive as a way of thanking you for taking the time to spread the word. In the world of writing, reviews and the buzz they create are more valuable than advances and royalties. Not to mention, after spending all that time writing alone with just the voices in my head, it’s nice to hear what you think of the book. Even if it’s just to tell me I need professional therapy (or in my case, more professional therapy)!
Sure, I write because I love it (sure isn’t about the moolah when you scribble horror), but more importantly, I write to entertain Hellions and non-Hellions alike. The world isn’t always such a nice place. Finding some time to escape, even if it’s curling up with a monster, is important just to keep our sanity.
And if you already posted a review before this offer, follow the same process and I’ll get a book out to you.
There are 4 books you can choose from : I KILL IN PEACE, SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE, THE DOVER DEMON & THE WAITING. Happy reading!
I have something important to report – bucking the system and pursuing your passion does not bring the world crashing down around your head! The rewards of doing what you love are immeasurable.
Well, I’m 2 months in to this whole full time writing thing and we’re not living in a cardboard box. The one strange thing is this : despite having all day to write, I still feel like there’s not enough time! It could be because I’ve taken on a ton of projects to work on. Every day is filled with both writing new material and editing. I’m certainly not spending my time watching daytime TV. I do wish I’d caught more Jerry Springer. An hour break to revel in humanity at its worst can’t hurt, can it?
But here’s the thing – I go to bed every night feeling as if I haven’t worked at all. Because it’s not work. It’s what I want to do. The only weird part to get over was this ingrained guilt at not being in a cubicle and miserable. We’re so used to this as the status quo that it takes time to detoxify.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
So, what have I accomplished? I finished my next novella for Severed Press, LOCH NESS REVENGE. It’s with my beta readers now and will be delivered to my publisher this month. Expect an October release. I’ve also started a new book for Severed set in a lost world packed full of cryptid madness. It’s pure nuttiness and fun.
A month back I mentioned I was working on a series of 3 novelettes for an undisclosed publisher. Well, I still can’t make the official announcement, but the first novelette is all done. I’ll start the second this month. They’re going to be set in the 70s and 80s and have something to do with comic books. That’s all I can reveal for now.
I also finished the book I started last October, WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING. It’s with beta readers now and will also be sent to my new publisher (another announcement I’ll be able to make soon) in early September. I heard that it’s going to be out in January, 2017.
Feeling like I wanted to branch out a bit, I wrote 2 children’s picture books. They’re with my agent now. Cross your fingers.
You’ll also be seeing writing tips and advice from the Shea trenches on THE VERBS blog this month. I hope to be a continuing contributor.
Now, here’s a brand new project that I think you’ll dig. I’m going to release a series of short stories called HUNTER SHEA’S FAST FRIGHTS. I’m shooting for a new story every month, priced at just 99 cents. The first story, an alien abduction tale, will be released in September. I’m tidying things up and artist Mike Chella is tweaking the cover art. FAST FRIGHTS will be quick hits of horror, a dose of what you need the most. Stay tuned for more about them because you, the readers, will be involved in the creative process as we move along.
“The writer walks out of his workroom in a daze. He wants a drink. He needs it. It happens to be a fact that nearly every writer of fiction in the world drinks more whisky than is good for him. He does it to give himself faith hope and courage. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul and that I am sure is why he does it.” — Roald Dahl
Other than that, I’ve spent a lot of time with my family, which has been fantastic. My oldest daughter passed her road test, so I now have someone who can save me from making every run to the supermarket! Daughter number two gets all my attention now to prepare for her road test. Oy! We’re also getting things in line so my wife can have some major surgery. She’s having double knee replacement. I expect a lot of cursing when it comes time for rehab. She asked one doctor, “Will I be able to run once it all heals?” He said, “Were you able to run before they went bad?” She shook her head. “No.” To which he replied, “Well, then, no.”
I’m working with my local Barnes & Noble and library to help new writers by offering any kind of assistance they need. Always, always give back to others. It can’t all be about you, no matter what you do. I remember what it was like when I started out with no one around to lend me a hand. I would have given both legs for a published author’s guidance.
Having time to read, really read, has been a godsend. I surpassed my GoodReads reading challenge of 70 books for the year. Some books I truly enjoyed were Island Red by Matt Serafini, Go Givers Sell More by Bob Burg and John David Mann, Robert Parker’s Kickback by Ace Atkins, Devil Red by Joe R Lansdale and A Living Grave by Robert Dunn.
As far as television and movies go, I absolutely loved Stranger Things on Netflix. I also really enjoyed Judd Apatow’s series, Love. In the movies, hands down, the best movie of the year is Hunt for the Wilderpeople. If you can find it near you, run and see it. It’s gotten a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes for good reason.
The good news is that all of this is inspiring me and giving me the room to deliver more for you than ever! Oh, and I’ve been gearing up for the release of The Jersey Devil on August 30th. You’ll be able to find the paperback in bookstores, supermarkets, Walmart and everywhere. Send me pics of where you find those devils and I’ll share them and give some shout outs!
This blog post is the first thing I’ve actually written, aside from emails, in a week. I’m in the middle of a two week break. And despite having deadlines to meet this year, both hard and soft, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. In fact, I’m sitting on the patio of my windy side yard on a sunny day, listening to three hawks terrorize every bird on the block. If it were just a tad warmer, I would probably be at the beach with my girls, getting sun, listening to the waves and reading a battered paperback. Oh, and waiting for the guy to come by selling coconut ice.
Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading posts by other writers who seem to never stop. Once they finish one manuscript, they set it aside and dive right into the next, maybe taking the time to drink a Coke before moving on.
Not me. I need time off. As much as writing has been both my life’s dream and a way to get away from my daily problems, I have to give my brain a rest every now and then. The break I’m on right now is already paying dividends. As I wait for my first readers to deliver their feedback on the book I gave them last week, I’ve done a lot of reading. (I’m going through some of Stephen King’s suggested reading list from his book, On Writing. Just this morning I finished Anne Tyler’s A Patchwork Planet – a book I would have never read if I hadn’t plucked it from his list. Thanks SK!). I’ve spent more time with my family – three of the four of us dealing with health issues. Netflix has gotten a workout. My wife and I anxiously awaited the latest B movie presented by Svengoolie on Saturday night and werent’ disappointed. I love creature features, even the awful ones. I’ve caught up on correspondence and even worked with my graphics main man to create some cool stuff like banners, bookmarks and my newsletter logo.
I decided two days ago to completely revamp a short story I wrote, expanding on it and publishing it on October 1st, just in time for Halloween. I’m also doing some research on the next book I start writing over the summer, as well as one I plan to write in the fall. While all this is going on, my subconscious is gearing up for the last round of edits on my next cryptid book. So even if it looks like I’m dozing in my chair, there’s actual work going on, I promise.
With time away from my laptop comes insights I would have missed if I hadn’t taken the time to just walk away for a spell. The last thing I want is for writing to feel like a job. I already have one of them. I don’t want two.
Learning meditation years ago has helped me immeasurably. When you calm your mind, the thoughts that have been bouncing around become much clearer. Even if I don’t meditate, I’ve learned the value of silence.
So if you’re feeling stuck or tired or in need of fresh ideas, just stop, kick back and relax. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it can only make your writing stronger. Brains, like batteries, need recharging every now and then. And boy, mine was running awfully low.
Now, I’m off to take my daughters out driving, armed with their permits and my father’s spirit urging me to stay calm, just as he did when he taught me.
OK, in actuality, the book signing where we took this picture went quite well. My daughters thought it would be funny to take this pic to show what a disaster a signing can turn into if no one shows up. I’ve had a few of those in my time. I laugh about them now, but when they were happening – damn, they sucked.
Want to hear about the worst book signing ever? About 10 years ago, I self pubbed a darkly comedic suspense novel. It had mobsters, porn stars, UFO nuts, a benevolent drug dealer, old men on a quest, a dominatrix and gay fashion desingers. I still love that book and hope to give it another life, but that’s another story.
I somehow snagged a signing at a huge Barnes & Noble. At the time, I was petrified of public speaking, so when I arranged it, I expressly said it would be a signing only.
When I showed up, I saw they purchased about 40 books! Whoa. How the hell was I, an unknown with a self pubbed novel, supposed to sell 40 books? And on a Tuesday night no less?
Imagine my growing horror when the manager walked me to a podium that stood in front of 50 chairs. She said they wanted me to read from the book and talk about the writing life. I almost had a heart attack.
In those 50 chairs was my wife, her friend, and a half dozen men who didn’t look well at all. Turns out, they were a hepatitis support group. When I spoke in my trembling voice, they looked at me like I was disturbing them – which I was. Thankfully, no one other than my wife and her friend listened to me at all. I said my piece and quickly sat down.
Aaaaand, for the next 2 hours, I proceeded to sell ZERO books. The manager looked like she wanted to hang me. I wanted to crawl under the building.
To this day, I use that night as my unit of book signing success measurement. So far, everything since has been FAR, FAR BETTER. Lower those expectations, and the world is your oyster.
What are your book signing horror stories? Ever had one, or watched one go down in flames? I know I’m not the only one.
Whether you hate them or not, if you’re crazy enough to make it a go of this whole writer thing, deadlines are going to be a part of your life. I’ve heard people say they work better with a deadline – the sound of that little clock ticking lights their creative fire. Others lament that the pressure of a deadline drives them down Writer’s Block Lane, sometimes with a short stop at Xanax Drive.
In my experience, every writer vacillates between embracing and running from deadlines. It depends on your mood, the project (horror writer takes on romance novel for single grannies – wtf???), what’s happening in your life at the moment and – here’s an important one – the money. I’m not saying that money makes it easier. Heck no. Sometimes, the carrot of a big advance can cause temporary paralysis. Other times, you want to put that pool in and that advance will pay for it and the party to christen it, so watch those fingers fly!
So, what do you do when a deadline looms and you can’t get the words from your brainpan to the keyboard? Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill. I’m sure Pfizer is working on one, but we’re years from it hitting the market place.
All I can offer is my own experience. One thing I’ve done over the past few years is to set a personal deadline for everything I write, whether an editor has a set expectation or not. This way, I’m training myself to write both with a purpose and a plan.
Here’s an example. It’s May 1st and I’m about to start my new novel. Now, my editor has only asked that I send something to him any time in the next year. Well, if I want to build my brand, I can’t rest on my laurels. I have to write a couple of novels and some short stories and maybe even a novella for good measure within that year. Oh, and I have my day job that requires most of my time and my family.
If I didn’t set deadlines for myself, I’d be sunk. So, on May 1st, I estimate that my book will be about 90,000 words. I figure 4 months is a good amount of time to get ‘er done. In my mind, the book has to be complete on September 1st. I want to get that first draft finished by mid July so I have time to show it to my first readers and do several rounds of edits. That means I have about 75 days to write my first draft.
If I do 1,000 words a day on weekdays, and 2,000 on weekends, I’ll cruise on in to my deadline. Then I have to take into account days when life just prevents my ass from sitting down and writing. Well, I’ll make up those words with a week of 1,500 words or maybe cram 5,000 on a Saturday.
The key is that through the entire process, I know exactly where I am, where I need to be, and what needs to be done each day to make it. You have to factor in situations that will throw a monkey wrench in the works. Shit happens. You’ll be fine as long as you’re planning ahead how to get back on track without adding more gray to your scalp.
It’s vital to remember that you’re in control. Writing is more than just something you’ve chosen to do – it’s something you love to do. Always, and I mean always, strive to have fun.
And repeat after me. Deadlines shmeadlines.
What’s been your experience with deadlines? What are some of the tricks you use to get over the hump? Inquiring writers want to know! I’ll give a free e-copy of my book, Sinister Entity, to a random person who comments about their deadline joy.
We all want to do what we love for a living, right? I know I do. They say (and we all know who they are) that if you choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. I think I might make a poster of that, complete with a picture of my cat sleeping on the radiator.
Writers are often asked, especially when they are starting out, if they plan to make writing a full time career. You know, quit your stultifying 9 to 5 job and live off the fat of the advance and royalty checks that will shower upon you like rain in Dublin. Naturally, we’d all love to do this. That dream is right up there with winning the lottery. Getting your first book deal feels even harder than hitting Lotto.
The truth is, only a small percentage of authors can rely on what they bring in from their writing as their sole source of income. Next time you go to your bookstore at say, 11am on a Tuesday, pay close attention to all of the names you see on the spines of the books. The vast majority of those folks are slaving away at some office while you’re out browsing.
Where’s the glamour in that? What’s the point of struggling to get published if I still have to clock in every day and stare at my cubicle walls?
I’m here to tell you that there is an upside to this. When we commit to being a writer, we’re basically juggling two full time jobs. The day job pays the bills and hopefully gives you some sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Writing feeds the soul and puts you in touch with your passion. Keeping up with both jobs also gives you freedom and peace of mind. That’s right, I said you’ll have more freedom, even within your cloth covered cube!
What’s this upside I seem so hellbent to profess?
• Publishers don’t give writers benefit plans or retirement savings. Anyone over 30 with kids will understand the importance of this. In fact, a lot of people consider this more important than salary when considering a job.
• Your day job gives you a steady paycheck. That means you can plan your finances, count on buying groceries every week and paying the rent every month. There are no cash dry spells when you have a day job.
• Because you don’t depend on writing to keep you and your family from living in a cardboard box, you have the FREEDOM to write about the things you love and are passionate about. You take on assignments and book projects that you want to do, not just ones that you need to do in order to survive.
I write horror. Unless your last name is King, Barker, Koontz or a handful of others, you’re confined to being a midlist author, which means the financial payoff will not have you putting a down payment on that pretty Jaguar.
Of the few horror writers I know who make writing their only career, I see their stress and have been told by more than one to treasure my day job. It’s stressful when you have to produce a prodigious output and hope that publishers will accept it and pay something worth the effort. There are no guarantees. Writing in genres they’d never read in becomes a necessity. Did I mention the stress?
Look, we all should dare to dream about landing that game changing book or movie deal that will put our 9 to 5 days behind us. It’s the carrot that keeps us chasing the stick. But don’t fret that you’re on published book #7 and still saying hi to your boss every morning. When you go home at night, you get to dive into the world you love most, and you get recognized and rewarded for it. Not too shabby.
Now, what’s your opinion? Do you think I’m crazy to embrace my day job or spot on? Have you managed to become a full time writer? Share a war story.
Before I share what it was like to be at an outdoor book fair where rain played peek-a-boo all day, I figured I’d start with the fun stuff. I have a new contest starting today for my book, Evil Eternal. Right now, there are 2 very nice reviews on Amazon for my demon-ass-kicking novel.
When the review # hits 10, I’m going to pick one reviewer to win a $25 Amazon gift card plus some signed stuff, or as I like to call it, paraphenalia. Love that word! So, if you’ve read the book, pop on over to Amazon, and be in it to win it.
For all you Monster Men fans, our latest episode is alive! This time we talk about the high-strangeness of The Mothman. There is so much involved in this story in terms of the paranormal, it’s mind boggling! Check it out on the Monster Men tab right here.
OK, now on to the book fair. Last Saturday, I attended the Books Without Borders event at the scenic Yonkers waterfront. To me, this was a perfect locale. It’s right on the Hudson River looking across at the Palisades, and there are tons of restaurants right on the boardwalk, not to mention new apartment buildings loaded with potential attendees.
We got there nice and early. I think we were the second table to set up. Everyone in charge of the fair was incredibly helpful and optimistic. Why optimistic and not just plan old thrilled? Well, you see, there were a lot of clouds up in the thing we call a sky and the air was heavy with the smell of oncoming rain.
No matter. With the help of my lovely wife and daughter, they had the table set up in no time while I drove my car to the assigned lot and made the mile walk back to the author area. Gotta say, I was impressed. I may hire them out for other authors.
We had to wait almost an hour and a half before the fair officially started, but that gave me time to meet my fellow authors and talk like writers.
“Here here, my good man. I’m having the devil of a time getting my syntax correct with my latest novel. Dare say you have any suggestions?”
“You are in a bit of a pickle. Mayhaps we should retire to the parlor for a good brandy. The muse always seems to come to me when my belly is warm and the cigars are tightly rolled.”
Or something like that.
Anyway, it didn’t take long for the first tiny droplets of rain to patter down upon our paper babies. Needless to say, we were all concerned. The rain would stop, then start again, never too hard, but enough to do damage to hundreds of books. So, what do you do when it rains at a book fair and you have a table full of books? You run to the store and get Ziploks!
Big thanks to wifey who thought of that one. So, we had saved the books, but now we had another problem. The bad weather was keeping the people away. It kept them away in droves. In packs. In, well, you get the point. Instead of crying over spilled storm clouds, we made the best of it. So while some authors packed up early, we tarried on. And I’m glad I did. I got to meet some awesome people (that means you, Nina, Shai, Gary, Ariel and Jackie), and despite having to move the table to a dry zone when the rain really decided to kick ass, I did pretty well in terms of sales.
And wouldn’t you know it, with a little over an hour left to go, the sun came out and the day turned beautiful. My oldest daughter came back from a Broadway show and joined us and all was right with the world.
So it wasn’t the greatest book fair ever. Big deal. Despite the rain and low turnout, I still had a great time. I got to meet fans, new authors, had a great chicken parm at the restaurant behind the table, did a radio interview (finishing it just before the band roared to life…you can listen to it here, and stay with it when the connection gets lost for a minute) and spent an entire day with my family. I’ll trade books in Ziploks for that any day.
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