Tag Archive | podcasts

De-cluttering The Writer’s Life

I’ve been noticing a trend lately of people wanting to downsize (tiny houses) and get rid of all the clutter a lifetime accumulates. Even if your lifetime is only 20 years, it’s remarkable how much crap we surround ourselves with. Clutter equals mess. And when you’re wading through a mess every day, it’s very hard to get things done.

The same goes for writing. So, inspired by the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve decided to delve a little deeper and address what anyone who wants to be a writer can do to pitch the useless crapola and make the writing/creative process flow like the mighty Mississippi.

tidy up 1

1. THE TBR PILE – I have two golden rules for writing – Read and Write. You can’t do one without the other. I know many of you have massive To Be Read piles. I looked at mine a month ago and saw that it had grown to over 4 feet! And that’s not counting the ebooks on my Kindle. Plus, I keep adding books to the pile. I realized I was never going to make my way through it and in fact, it was giving me stress. So, I sat down and went through every single book and weeded out the ones that had been there for over a year. Let’s face it, if you haven’t touched it in a year or more, you really don’t want to read it. That got me down to 2 feet of books. Then I asked myself, “If you can only bring 5 books away on a nice extended vacation, which would they be?” Believe it or not, it was very easy to just select the five. I then did the same with my Kindle, moving any unread books that I wasn’t really going to read to different folders so they weren’t staring me in the face every time I turned it on. My next step is to get a local store to let me put in a bookshelf where I can relocate my old TBR books with a sign – “Read a Book, Leave a Book”. I hate to throw books away, so this is a great way to spread my love of reading, and it gives other free access to new and used books.

2. WRITING SPACE – Now, I have a very cool corner carved out in my house for writing, but I tend to write all over the place. We’re talking the kitchen, living room, in bed, the yard, my car. I haven’t tried the bathrooom…yet. But, my special writing space is also where I keep my notes, printouts, receipts, supplies, you name it. And over the course of a year, it becomes a repository for anything without a proper home. When I look at it, I get queasy, wondering if there are any unpaid bills or parking tickets under that mess. There’s a simple solution for that. Get a 30 gallon lawn and leaf bag, set aside 2 hours one day and just dive in. Also, be ready to make folders so you can organize the things that are truly vital. And pay those tickets!

Messy Writing Area

This isn’t my desk, but you get the idea.

3. PODCASTS – I, like so many others, am a podcast junkie. Some I listen to for entertainment and others for inspiration or education. You’ll see me with my headphones on while I walk, clean the house, cook or do the yard work. I love them. Buuuut, I had subscribed to so many and felt obligated to listen to each new episode, they were eating into my time to write. I looked at my iPod. Holy moley, I was trying to keep up weekly with over two dozen podcasts! That’s just way too many. So like my TBR pile, I whittled it down to my 4 essentials, the ones I really look forward to each week. That would make it less than one podcast a day, which is perfect. Of course, I will allow for a 5th to be added from time to time, keeping that as a rotating slot, listening to an episode here and there if it interests me. What are my 4 essentials? It’s an interesting list – Gilbert Gotffried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, Bloody Good Horror, Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast (and Plus Club) and Archaeological Fantasies. Right now, the 5th rotating slot flips between My Dad Wrote a Porno and Novel Marketing Podcast.

4. ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING PROJECTS! – Odds are, you have more than one iron in the fire when it comes to your writing. You may be working on a novel and some short stories, with plans for a  novella and a cookbook down the line. After a while, your wish list of what you want to write can get a little daunting. It sure did for me. I sat back one day and realized I had 16 writing projects lined up for the next year. How the hell could I manage that? And more importantly, why did I agree to so many? I needed some way to be able to not only see them all in one place, but track their progress. As long as I was able to visually see things getting done, I might be able to cut back on the Xanax. So I went to Staples, bought the biggest cork board I could find, a stack of different colored Post It notes and some push pins. I then created strings of Post Its for each project, listing the title at the top and a Post It for each stage in the writing process. For example, with my upcoming Loch Ness Monster book, the string of Post Its went like this – LOCH NESS REVENGE – 1ST DRAFT – REVISIONS – BETA READERS – FINAL REVISIONS – SUBMIT TO SEVERED PRESS. As I got each section done, I removed the Post It note. I can’t tell you how good it feels to pull a Post It away. Kind of like finally going to the bathroom after holding in your pee for an hour. Bliss.

5. MOVIES, MOVIES, MOVIES – Most writers I know love movies, and just like books, we tend to buy a ton and hoard them. Movies are a great way to settle back and relax, inspire and recharge our brains. I could happily spend every  minute of the day in my lounge chair watching movies. But damn, my shelves are now jam packed with DVDs, Blu Rays and even old VHS tapes. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds. No one needs that many movies. As a family, we’re going to go through them all and see what we can sell in a yard sale, donate or just toss (not sure why we have 3 copies of Fat Albert). And to stop ourselves from just buying more to replace them, we subscribed to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Odds are, 90% of the movies we watch we’ll only do so the one time. No sense owning a hard copy that will only collect dust.

6. CHORES – Now that you have all the things that help you write in order, you need to make sure you have the time to read, write, edit, market, etc. It’s easy to use chores as a way to avoid the business of writing. Look into hiring a maid service to clean the house. Hire the kid next door to mow the lawn. Hate food shopping? Farm it out to someone who loves wandering supermarkets, or use an online service to pick out your groceries and have them delivered. Outsource as many of the time sucking, irritating tasks as you can. Get rid of anything that aids in your procrastination!

Now go get organized and write!

Take A Walk With A Demon

You don’t even have to go to hell to stride along with this demon. I’m very happy to announce that The Dover Demon Blog Tour has begun, 6 weeks of cryptid love with chances to win signed books and more. This may be a critter you’ve never heard of, but I promise you’ll never forget him…or her…after you’ve read the book.

“Hunter Shea takes these (cryptid) legends to a petrifying new place and drags you along for the ride. He is quickly becoming of the authors I can count on for a great read. 4.5 out of 5 stars! Horror Maiden’s Book Reviews

dover-demon-tour-logo Big thanks to Erin El Mehairi for putting everything together. She is truly the patron saint of horror’s lost boys. Visit the tour stops by clicking the above image and make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win signed books.

You can get The Dover Demon in trade paperback or ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Publishing and everywhere books are sold. This little sucker doesn’t phone home and he’ll do very bad things with Reese’s Pieces if you let him.

Jack and I jaw about The Dover Demon in the latest episode of Monster Men, as well as some great horror movies you should add to your to-watch list for #Horrortober. Oh yeah, it’s that time again!

A Visit to the Haunted Union Cemetery

Growing up across the street from a cemetery, I never thought I’d actually want to hang out in one, especially one that is purpotedly the most haunted cemetery in the northeast. But, thanks to fellow Monster Man Jack, we packed up our gear and headed for the Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut on a cold but sunny Saturday. You can watch the video of our visit here.

A little background on the Union Cemetery. It first came to be in the late 1700s and still hosts new internments today. Sightings (and even recorded ones) of The White Lady, a pair of glowing, menacing eyes, voices, shadows and physical interactions have all taken place there. No one knows the origins of the apparitions that are heard and seen in and around the cemetery. Ed and Lorraine Warrren spent a great deal of time walking & investigating the grounds and even wrote a book about it called Graveyard.

Sign

Jack and I and our friend Anthony went there during the day because the cemetery is small and heavily policed at night. Vandals laid waste to the graveyard last August and we saw plenty of broken and shoddily repaired tombstones. A word of caution. If you go there at night, you will be arrested. It’s a small cemetery, flat and open and surrounded by 2 main roads. Knowing this, we set about doing a daytime investigation, since I believe that although the freaks come out at night, true hauntings don’t have a time clock.

The star of the Union Cemetery show is the White Lady. She’s been seen drifting through the rows of gravestones, pretending to be hit by cars outside the cemetery gates, only to disappear, and sometimes weeping over the loss of something or someone we may never know. We set out to see if we could capture her, or any other spirits, on audio. All will be revealed as you read on…

When we first arrived, we spent a good deal of time walking through the cemetery, trying to read tombstones hundreds of years old, and just getting a feel for the place. Because it’s so tiny and open, I didn’t get that special tingle up my back I tend to feel in large bone orchards.

Union Cemetery (18)The weight of history is heavy there, and it’s really a tremendous historical place to visit.

Union Cemetery (16)It’s a shame that vandals saw it fit to topple so many monuments. There’s also been a good share of occult activity taking place there – another good reason to avoid any nighttime excursions.

We tried EVP sessions at multiple locations, taking turns asking questions and often leaving the recorder atop graves in the hopes that someone would want to reach out to us. At one point, I laid down on a very old grave in an attempt to get closer to any spirits, and put myself in their shoes. The tombstone had a creepy angel head etched on it, as you can see below.

GraveThere’s also an old Baptist church connected to the cemetery. When Jack was there over 15 years ago, he caught what looks to be a face in one of the windows. We took lots of pics this time around. It could have been a trick of the light, as each glass window also has a plastic covering. Add sunlight and treee branches to the mix and anything can happen, but it adds to the spooky factor.

Union Cemetery (26)

Before I get to the EVP part, here are some more pictures of the cemetery…..

Union Cemetery

Union Cemetery (44)Paranormal ‘experts’ claim that running water can provide energy for spirits to make themselves known. We found a good sized creek that runs along the back end of the cemetery. Could that be what energizes the White Lady?

OK, now for the good stuff. We weren’t just out to find the White Lady, but we did devote one EVP session exclusively to her. About a minute in to the session, Jack asked if she was here with us. My daughter, Ivy, did the first level of audio review. She and I both found audio bits that could have been footsteps and a possible sigh, but it was the answer to the question put to the White Lady that made our hair stand on end. We heard a soft but firrm “Yeah.” We play it several times in our Union Cemetery Monster Men episode. Click on over to hear it and tell us what you think.

We’re leaving it open for debate. Did we see the White Lady? No. Did she speak to us? Maybe. Will we return? Definitely. We’ve only just begun.

Have you ever been to the Union Cemetery? If so, do you have a story to tell? If you live in the New York tri-state area and know of other haunted cemeteries, let me know. We’re always up for a dalliance with the dead.

Union Cemetery (11)

Your Horror-Paranormal Round-Up for March

Today marks the start of something new for me. Every couple of months, I’m going to post a hodge-podge of places to go and people to see on the internet, all of them horror and paranormal related. These are the locations, people  and achievements that have captured my imagination and gratitude. They are wellsprings of inspiration, information, entertainment and mental edification. Find something that interests you and give them a lookey-loo…

Congratulations goes out to Robert Rumery on the publication of his first comic, The Grove, from WhatTheFlux Comics. If you know me, you know I’m a horror comic junkie. Nice job, Robert. I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it.

The Grove

Looking for great horror books at steep discounts…or even free? Author, editor and all around cool dude in a loose mood, Brian James Freeman has started eHorror Bargains, your one-stop-shop for the best in horror. All of your horror deals are right here. Stop by and load up your e-reader!

Book Reviews. I have 2 places where you can go to get tons of book reviews (and if you’re an author, query them to have your book spotlighted). The first is Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK. Super reviewer Erin covers multiple genres as well as author interviews. She is the hardest working book reviewer out there today and a lot of writerly types owe her our gratitude.

Another mega-review site is Matt Molgaard’s Horror Novel Reviews. Matt and his team do an excellent job of reviewing not only new horror works, but classics and older hidden gems. If you need to stock up your horror library, this is the place to go. Then head to eHorror Bargains and see if you can get some of them without busting your budget.

Bigfoot. You know I can’t help myself from throwing something about the hairy fella in here. Huge thanks to Scott Albright who brought this post to my attention (actually, it’s as large as a novella) about Bigfoot and why no one has found their bones or bodies. Author Robert Lindsay did some yeoman’s work putting this together. Must read for all you squatchers!

Ghosts & The Supernatural. The definitive place to get everything you need about the world of the paranormal is Jeff Belanger’s Ghost Village. This is the Bible for everyone interested in what lies beyond the veil. You can also sign up for their free monthly newsletter.

Books. I’m super excited that my book release partner on April 2nd is the uber-talented Jonathan Janz. His new book, The Darkest Lullaby, comes out the same day as my Sinister Entity. Here’s a link to a review of his book. He has one of the coolest cover in the Samhain library.

thedarkestlullaby_v2

Podcasts. My newest podcast addiciotn is Darkness Radio, a radio show broadcast out of the Twin Cities. You can listen to their archives online or through iTunes. These guys have a damn good time talking about the world of the strange and the unexplained. Love their take on things.

OK, that about does it for this month. I hope you stop by some or all of these great places and supoprt them. If there are hot spots you think I should know about, send them to me and I’ll include them in future posts.

Happy hauntings!

Ghost Hunters – A Mid Season Break Review

Grant is gone. Amy’s home with her beautiful baby girl. New folks are attempting to fill some big shoes. And that’s not all of the changes we’ve seen on Ghost Hunters this season.

We all knew things would never be the same when Grant rode off to start his own board game company. For a lot of us, they haven’t been the same since they shipped Kris Williams off to GHI, never to return. (And boy, has GHI gotten an unceremonious burial at sea. I’d love to know the back story on that show). For my money, the best season was when it was just Jay, Grant, Steve, Tango and Kris. It was the perfect team size and they just clicked.

Along with the personnel changes this season came a totally fresh design to the show. From ditching Mike Rowe as the narrator in favor of Jay – who does an admirable job, to creepier music, slicker editing and even some quick recreations of spirits walking the halls, Ghost Hunters has a completely new look and feel. The Monster Men went through all of the new moving parts in our latest podcast that you can watch below.

I will say that overall, I think the changes were long overdue and breathe some new life into the show. I would like to see them investigate more homes and actually try to help people. I don’t get a sense of urgency when they visit another abandoned asylum. If it’s haunted, who cares? Just steer clear and everyone’s happy. And let’s stop giving hotels and restaurants a boost in foot traffic because they were featured on the show.

Now, I know that a lot of you that come to this blog and chain watch the show. What are your thoughts on the changes so far? Who do you miss more, Grant or Amy? Who are your favorite teams? Is it Britt and KJ, Jason and Steve, Michelle and Tango? Or how about Maddie and Jay? Since my new book, Sinister Entity, is coming out in a few weeks, I’ll give away a free copy of my first book, Forest of Shadows (Sinister Entity is the sequel) to a random person who comments on this post.

I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’ve watched every episode since the start and I’ll be there until the end.

2013 Resolutions for Writers

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?

True fact, Fabio and I have the same agent!

True fact, Fabio and I have the same agent.

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.

This isn't my desk, but you get the idea.

This isn’t my desk, but you get the idea.

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.

My favorite podcast. Hey Jim, I'm open to an interview any time!

My favorite podcast. Hey Jim, I’m open to an interview any time!

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.

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