Pink Rhody

Pink Rhody

I think this is a Rhododendron, the flowers are actually redder than they appear here.

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Horror Con 2014 – Last day (for me anyway)

ImageJust to let you know, this is a couple of days late. I initially wrote this on Saturday night at around ten o’clock. It is now Monday morning. I waited because I wanted to make sure that what I had written was coherent. So here we go.

It’s midnight, there’s an ad for a soft rock album on the television (until I changed the channel because it was driving me nutballs) and I have to take the train to the airport at 8:00 tomorrow morning. I’m tired. The last few days have been exciting and interesting, tough because I really want to succeed at this new adventure and informative. I found out there is a wider publishing world out there. I also discovered that editors and rejections should not be feared, but embraced.

First thing this morning, I ran into one of my new friends at breakfast. My new friends have helped me a lot at this convention. Due mainly to their assistance, I have made several new author friends. And I’m getting a review of Darwin’s Sword out of it, along with some editorial assistance on White Death. Not to mention they made me feel welcome and I truly appreciate that. For the most part, every person I met at Horror Con was friendly, warm, fun to be around and helpful.

My first session of the day involved a lesson in pitching stories to editors. I wasn’t planning on pitching a project today, but I learned a lot about what to do and not to do in pitching a project. I also now have a list of editors to send projects to. I’m stoked.

My second session involved research techniques for horror writers. I researched genetics extensively for Darwin’s Sword and learned that I’m not the only writer who includes facts in his fiction. I also learned my methods are pretty good. This is very heartening.

I decided to take some time away from the conference to enjoy some peace and quiet, so I went off to the Portland Japanese Garden. The pics above can do a better job of letting you know a little of why I went there. If I had more time, I would go to Chinatown and do a ghost tour, but it’ll have to wait.

I returned to the hotel late in the afternoon and caught an interview with Jack Ketchum. I’ve seen Mr. Ketchum’s books in the bookstore, but I’ve never read one. He’s next on my list. I have several other authors on my to-read list as well. I look forward to taking a look at their work.

Tonight, I attended my first Bram Stoker Banquet. The meal was terrific, but the desert will make me have to walk from Reno to Carson City to get rid of the calories. The tastes of the different delicacies on the dessert table took me back to my first honeymoon in Jamaica around the time I wrote Darwin’s Sword. It was wonderful.

I will list the winners in a later blog, but the award for best novel went to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. I wasn’t surprised. As I’ve said in this blog, the book was both good as a stand-alone, but as a sequel to The Shining, it was masterful. Some may disagree, but I think he deserved the award.

After the banquet, I went to the Bram Stoker Awards after-party and schmoozed a bit, then returned to the bar and had a drink. Thank you to Samhain Press for sponsoring the after-party. While I was at the hotel bar, I met a wonderful writer who needed assistance with choosing the correct Scotch. I stuck my nose into her business and helped. She was headed off to the gross-out contest. While I’m a bit old for such things, I went in for a few minutes and listened to some great, on the spot, fiction that was both funny and a bit silly, but endearing in a strange way. I don’t know what it says about me, but I wasn’t grossed out in the least.

Overall, my time at Horror Con 2014 was a lot of fun. I’ve met some great writers, great people and made some friends. I’m very happy with the outcome. This is a tough business, but writers help other writers. That’s the thing that stands out the most.

Don’t forget to pick up Darwin’s Sword in print on and at Google Play Books. If you already have it, please review it on both Amazon and Google Play. You can also throw one out on Goodreads.

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Horror Con 2014 – Day 2



I began my second day at Horror Con on a bit of a mission. I wanted to hear a panel on the art of short story writing. I went to the conference session and actually had some of my ideas validated by a very funny and articulate group of writers who favor the short story. One of the panelists is an editor of short story anthologies, whom I must get to know.

After my panel and a visit to the Dealer’s Room, where I had great discussion about small press publishing options with another writer, I returned to Powell’s Bookstore to see the rare books room. There are some first editions there I would die for because the only way I could afford them is if I died and my wife collected a large life insurance policy.

I returned to the hotel and had lunch where I met a young woman from Chicago who does a small review of books. We talked about the horror genre as a hole and how movies really don’t do the stories justice.

After a quick stop by my room, I dropped in to see Victoria Price talk about her father, Vincent Price. I was, and still am, a big fan of Mr. Price, not only because he was so great in scary movies, but also because he was a genuinely warm and funny man. He played the worst of his rolls with a tongue-in-cheek quality that endeared him to millions including a young man who would eventually become a writer. I miss his movies and I miss the actor.

I had an interesting conversation with one of the agents here today as well. While the impromptu meeting didn’t go as I planned, I’m not giving up. This is my new life and I have to work harder. I have a lot to think about and a great deal of work to do if this is going to work. I know that, so White Death will be my next novel, no matter who publishes it.

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Greeting from Horror Con 2014

Greeting from Horror Con 2014

I’m pretty sure this is what happens when you’ve spent too long writing horror.

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Horror Con 2014 – Day One

ImageWell, it’s past 1:00 am in the morning, as I’m writing this and Day One of Horror Con is officially in the books. I spent the past three hours talking with several well-established horror writers and I still feel a little like an outsider, but it’s getting better.

Let’s start at the beginning. I awoke this morning to rain in Portland. Not all that surprising, but I tried to have a positive outlook, after all I’m not the wicked witch and rain doesn’t melt me. First off, at breakfast, a wonderful young woman who had contacted me on Facebook, about Darwin’s Sword, recognized me as I walk across the lobby into the restaurant. She came over and said hello and reminded me that I had promised to bring her a book. I told her I brought an extra just for her and would sign it for her. Turns out she’s a fan of the genre and has a blog in Great Britain, where she’s from, that she uses to review and promote books from authors, like me. After I finished eating, I went up and got her book, signed it for her then spent about forty minutes talking with her and her husband. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to someone recognizing me from my picture, but if all of the encounters turn out like this one I’ll be okay. They are both wonderful people.

I grabbed a cab to Powell’s City of Books on Burnside. What can I say? That is the biggest fucking bookstore I’ve ever seen. Let me try to set the ambiance. You walk in off the street and the first thing you notice is the smell. It smells like books. Old books and new books, the aging paper that makes up a true bookstore. You don’t get that smell at chains. They have a café there and when the book smell mixes with the smell of coffee, there is nothing like it. Oh, did I mention, you could put three Wal-Marts inside this place? It’s huge.

Next, after lunch with a friend, I came back and the woman from this morning introduced me to my first writer contact at Horror Con. Jaime Johnesee is a young writer who mixes horror with humor to create a wonderful series of books. I plan on picking one up and taking a look, because they sound interesting. She also had many valuable insights and I learned a lot. She also listened to my babbling about my book without telling me to shut up.

I went to the opening remarks delivered by Alan M. Clark. He introduced the special guests and award winners. Then I spent the next few hours networking with authors, after a dash upstairs for some pain meds for my aching joints.

I met a writer coming back to publishing after a bit of a hiatus. Paul Dale Anderson has been a published author since 1962. He was having trouble with his computer and since in another life, I fix computers it was a perfect introduction. We talked about how publishing has changed over the course of years between the eighties and now. He had a lot of insights that should aid me in my quest.

The rest of the night, I spent visiting with writers of many styles and depths. We all write things a little different and nothing made that more apparent than my new friends. I met an Australian screenwriter named Arron Sterns, who wrote a movie whose title, Wolf Creek, was familiar. He was giving a presentation on screen writing.

At the end of the night, I met more new friends and we enjoyed a cocktail and talked about writing until I came to my room to write this blog. I’m having a great time because I finally feel like I belong here.

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Shut the F*** up and just write!

Happy Cinco de Mayo. As I said in my last blog, I’m headed off to Horrorcon this week to break bread with all of my horror-writing companions. I believe that I’ll come back with a whole new perspective and many new contacts. It’s so amazing that I can now count myself among a very select group of published authors.

Before I go, I wanted to impart a little of my own opinion on writing as a whole. I have written at length about why I write and why my stories are so important to me. Over the last week, it was brought home to me that I don’t seem to enjoy my life as a published writer. Because of many factors, this road has been a rough one.

The thing is, after thinking about it for a while, I realized the person who told me this was right. Being a big picture guy, I didn’t understand why I was focused like a tractor beam on the negatives of this experience. I couldn’t believe I let myself get caught up in all the silliness of my frustration rather than focusing on the fact that I was a published author. What the fuck was I thinking?

When I finally asked myself this question, I had no answer. Much of my frustration has emanated from a desire to make a success of my new career as a writer. I worked hard on Darwin’s Sword and couldn’t figure out why fate was pushing back so hard against my success. Then I realized (thanks to my wife smacking me in the head with it for the umpteenth time), fuck this, I’m a published author. I have a book. One I didn’t pay to have published (not that there is anything wrong with self-publishing, two of my favorite people have self-published novels). I’ve always wanted a book in print and now I have one. Yes, there have been problems, frustrations, screaming matches and other shit you have to deal with, but I’m still published and no matter how many books I sell, I’m a success.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The other reason I’m frustrated is because of money. I worry constantly about bills and food and rent, all because I’m chasing a dream. I was raised with a work ethic that requires me to provide and my writing has stepped in the way of this. It sucks, but I like to eat. I also have a small family, a wife who keeps telling me everything will be fine (she is absolutely wonderful) and a small furry young lady who wants her kibble. I’ve suggested the dog get a job, but she doesn’t have much of a resume. Being cute is not a job description.

I realized this past week, that I just need to work towards my goal and let nothing stand in my way. I’m going to Horrorcon with a single focus. Making my dream of writing full-time a reality. Things may get tight, but I believe there is always a way of making any situation work out. All I have to do is work hard, smile a lot, breathe deep and have faith. Fate is an evil mistress, but sometimes, shit just works. 

I’ll post more from Horrorcon in Portland, OR, starting on Thursday night, so stay tuned. Until then, just write the fucking story.

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American Horror Writer’s Association – Horrorcon 2014 – Preview

On May 7th, I leave Reno late in the day for Portland, Oregon and Horrorcon 2014. The American Horror Writers Association puts Horrorcon on every year and while there are many imitators, this is the real one. It showcases writers in the horror genre from all around the world. It’s a place to network with other authors, agents and publishers. 

I look forward to this event, not just because it’s my first, but my first as a published author. For the first time I feel as if I’m one of the gang. My first novel, Darwin’s Sword, was published back in January and I look forward to promoting it. I also look forward to selling a short story for enough money to become an active member of AHWA. Since I didn’t receive an advance for Darwin’s Sword I have no qualifying income to join, but I still feel like one of their peers.

Every time I think about the fact that I am on par with great writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker and others, I’m jazzed as hell. Now if I could just get a fraction of their income I’d be even better, but I digress. I look forward to the spectacle and the camaraderie that comes with being a published author at one of these conventions. Unlike most writing conventions, you aren’t with a bunch of writers that write all sorts of stuff, I feel like at Horrorcon, I’m amongst my people. My people.

I love writing all sorts of things, but most of what I write ends up being spooky in one way or another. My mind just goes there and there is nothing I can do about it. I once sat down to write a Jason Bourne type novel and ended up with a long novel about a former special ops soldier whose dead wife talks to him over an Internet chat program. Military thriller ends up as ghost story. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to spending time talking with other writers and getting information on how to make money at this wonderful job. New writers spend a lot of time preoccupied with survival because making money at writing isn’t easy. Most good writers will tell you they don’t write for money or fame. But it takes money to eat and have Internet access, so, whether we like it or not, writing is a business. That’s the part I have such a problem with. Marketing is not my strong suit, but I spend a lot of time doing it. Hell, I’m doing it now. Blogging is all part of the marketing thing. It also lets others know you can writer about something other than spooks and vampires.

Anyway, I may post several smaller blogs while I’m at Horrorcon, so be prepared. I’ll also post photos of some of the things that go on. So stay tuned.

Oh, and on the subject of marketing. Please go out and buy Darwin’s Sword. It’s available at or you can contact my publisher at So far, all the reviews have said they couldn’t put it down, so I must have done something right.

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