The Horror is Out Now!

My latest, terrifying novelette, THE HORROR is now available on Amazon Kindle (BUY HERE).

NOTE: You don’t need to own a Kindle device to read the story. All you need is the Kindle app, which is available on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.

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Synopsis: 

What if the horrors of a seemingly innocent and fun haunted house attraction were real? What if someone were inside with you, stalking you and feeding on your fear? What if every corner of the maze were deadly? What if you couldn’t get out?

The Horror tells the story of Lisa and Alan, two college teens visiting a theatrical haunted maze themed after local urban legends. Once inside it becomes clear that the macabre sights are not just smoke and mirrors, and gallons of fake blood, but the gory work of a deranged psychopath who is inside the house, hunting them. The two lovers must attempt to escape before this crazed lunatic tracks them down and completes his grisly ritual.

Background:

With The Horror, I wanted to craft a special short story for the Halloween season, and I wanted this story to be something “balls to the wall” scary. Ultimately, The Horror was inspired by one of my wife’s worst fears: that someone inside a haunted house might have nefarious plans for the guests. While the core story of The Horror has been swimming around my noggin for close to a decade, the plot began to truly form this September, when my wife and I visited the haunted houses at Universal Studios.

The result is a haunting, atmospheric ride through a terrifying, nail-biting narrative that simply doesn’t let up. But it’s also a story designed to make you think. The Horror explores the nature of trauma and death through brutal metaphor. It examines what we really fear and how our culture deals with disaster. The story is a response to those who criticize horror as exploitation or entertainment, all while fueling a reader’s fears through thrilling set pieces, unnerving suspense, vivid description and meaningful characters.

I hope you will enjoy The Horror as much as I enjoyed writing and editing it. Keep in mind, the story is quite scary, so I would definitely recommend this one to hardcore horror readers, especially lovers of the slasher genre.

Happy Halloween!

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Why I Write: The Benefits of Short Stories

 

WHY I WRITE #1 – Welcome to the first entry in this ongoing blog series designed to offer my perspective on the subject of writing. I also hope to inspire and aide fellow writers and readers to explore their creativity in new, exciting ways, and to help others achieve their goals and get their work published.

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“Why are you writing short stories?” I’ve gotten this question plenty of times from friends, fans and family. Some might blindly assume I’m either too afraid to write a full-length book, or simply too lazy. The reality is unequivocally neither. I’ve written three full-length books and two screenplays this year alone, and I plan on releasing six or seven short stories by year’s end, with about a dozen or more slated for 2014. All told, I probably write, or work on writing, for about 50-60 hours a week, if not more.

In truth, I just can’t stop writing. I write every single day, be it a blog entry, tweets, a screenplay, a book or a short story. Writing is like air to me, I can’t live without it. It doesn’t help that I’m an idea machine and I’m always jotting down stories, film and book ideas.

But why short stories? Well, my real goal with shorts is to create a base of writing samples that I can share with new readers, fellow writers, fans and potential agents and publishers who might be interested in reading or buying my work.

But also, my decision to focus on shorts is intentional beyond those motives. We live in a very busy time. Our attention is more divided than every before. There is so much content to consume, and more entertainment options. And, as much as some might argue to the contrary, we are also living in an economically depressed climate. It might not be labeled as such by the powers that be, but trust me, we are. If you’re in the middle class, or lower, you are likely feeling the damning effects of this on nearly every single aspect of your life. You are working hard to pay bills, pay off debt and still have enough coins to have some kind of fun on the weekends. In some cases, people are working two or even three jobs to pay for what little free time they have.

Between having no money, and having so many entertainment options, many have little-to-no time for things like books, or even movies or television. Taking this into consideration, I decided I would focus on bite-sized stories that can be read in a matter of hours.

This, I feel, is satisfying to readers because they get that sense of accomplishment from finishing a story. But also, a shorter story fits into our cramped schedule much better than a longer one. And, let’s be honest, not many people know who I am just yet. That will certainly change, but for now I’d prefer to give new readers a tasty bite of my writing abilities before asking them to indulge in a full-length book. I’ve also found that many readers feel the same way. They want to know if they even like my style, or the genres I’m working in, before they take the big plunge and dive into one of my books.

If you’re a fellow writer, I highly recommend trying your hand at a short story. If nothing else, it’ll get you writing every day and it’ll get you exploring your boundaries. Try a new style of writing, a different perspective, a type of character you aren’t familiar with, or even a different genre. When you’re finished (editing included – this is important), you can sell these stories for cheap (about a buck) on Amazon, and they’ll help your career in the long run. Binge readers can quickly enjoy your entire body of work, and the stories may lead to bigger things, like an agent or possibly a publishing contract. If nothing else, it allows you to have a body of work for sale on Amazon that readers, fans, friends and family can explore and enjoy.

And yes, you can charge for your work. Don’t be afraid of this. Even though I’m speedy and efficient, I spend around 80-120 hours (at least) prepping just one short story, from writing to editing to building the Kindle file to designing a cover and promoting the title. People work hard at their jobs. There is no reason you should not get paid for your hard work, either. But keep your stories cheap, please. I prefer the price point of $1. Anything more than $2 is excessive for shorts.

That’s essentially why I write short stories. I plan on publishing my books in the near future, but I am still in the very long, very taxing process of searching for agents and publishers. But, in the meantime, I am building an incredible body of work that will only help me achieve my goals. And I’m having a blast writing and sharing all my stories and ideas with you. So thanks for reading and please, if you publish a short, share it in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to promo the hell out of it to aide you in your own personal goals. Good luck!

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On the next, WHY I WRITE, I will discuss creating book covers for Kindle Edition books. Stay tuned!

–Also, if you haven’t already, check out my first short story, The Stray Cats (BUY HERE)!

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Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 2: Favorite Books

A new week, a new list! This time I’ll be discussing some of my favorite horror books.

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different books on it … what can I say, I absolutely love the genre.

Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments!

Also, for more books, check out this list of 11 Creepy Novels.

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Legion - William Peter Blatty

10) Legion 

Legion is a sequel to William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. It’s a great follow-up, though not as haunting as The Exorcist. I included it here over The Exorcist because it’s a worthwhile sequel that fans of the series should seek out. While I’m on the subject, also check out the late Gary Brandner’s The Howling series. They’re also quite fun.

Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks

9) The Zombie Survival Guide

A lot of zombie fans loved World War Z, but I’m more fond of Max Brooks’ first zombie endeavor – a step-by-step guidebook for surviving a zombie apocalypse. It’s rather funny, but also extraordinarily helpful … if one were ever to come face-to-face with the walking dead, that is.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

8) Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Dexter Morgan’s first tale is still his best. In fact, Jeff Lindsay’s book was so good that it got turned into an award-winning TV series (that later petered out and sputtered to a tragic death, but I digress). The book is a clever mixture of American Psycho and police procedure, with a reluctant anti-hero at the helm, steering the audience in the darkest, most macabre places. Gripping, tense and awesome!

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

7) Lord of the Flies

This one might not strike you as horror, but a book about a bunch of children who slowly succumb to the horrors of their own darker instincts is ripe material for horror, and no other book does it better than William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. You might have hated it when you read in school, but give it another shot. It’s outstanding.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

6) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I kept going back and forth about which book to include here: Dracula or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both books are tremendous achievements in horror, and stupendous pieces of writing to boot. Ultimately, I went with Dr. Jekyll because never before, and never again, has a book so perfectly encapsulated the duality of man. For me, that holds more water than the first vampire tale. But read both books, please.

Sphere

5) Sphere

Michael Crichton’s Sphere is one of very few books I find myself reading every couple of years. The science behind the story is fascinating, but even more chilling than the sphere itself, is the manifestations of evil we hid within ourselves. A deeply terrifying book for anyone seeking something to get under the skin, with just a dash of science to back things up.

The Stand

4) The Stand

A great many horror fans might pepper a “favorite horror novels” list with Stephen King, but I’ve opted to include only one, The Stand. The Stand was the first “big” book I ever completed (I read it when I was about 10 years old). And, honestly, of all King’s books, The Stand really, umm, stands out as a mythical tale of Americana’s survival in the face of an apocalypse. Epic stuff … and very scary. I’d also recommend It (a close second) as well.

Scary_Stories_to_Tell_in_the_Dark_cover

3) Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark (Series)

I primarily grew up on two writers: Shel Silverstein, who crafted the beauty of my youth through poems; and Alvin Schwartz, who helped shape my nightmares. But the real winner of the Scary Stories series is the artwork from illustrator Stephen Gammell. His work on these books still scares the ever-loving shit out of me. There are (crappy) versions of the Scary Story books without his artwork, replaced with toned down “kid friendly” artwork. Boo! Skip them and seek out the copies with Gammell’s imagery. It’s perfect!

Frankenstein

2) Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s staggering nightmare of death, romance and reanimation is existentially rich and still quite beautiful, not to mention frightening. It also stands as one of the finest pieces of gothic writing ever committed to paper. The only writers who come close are Lovecraft and Poe, who are also (obviously) well worth reading.

The Demonologist

1) The Demonologist

Never has a book freaked me out more. You may think Ed and Lorraine Warren are a bunch of nutters, but after reading this book, I’m not entirely convinced. The horrors they walk their audience through is immeasurably terrifying and shockingly real. It might all be phooey, but it certainly made me want to hang some crosses up in the house, and that’s power no other horror book has ever conjured from me.

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Next week: My top ten favorite horror slashers!