Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

We survived 2009 and made it out with what was left of our sanity.  Here's hoping that 2010 brings us all success, peace, and happiness.  God knows we deserve it. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Play Time Is Over

It's been a fun holiday.  I had a lot of downtime, but was far from productive (unless, of course, you consider beating two levels of Left for Dead 2 productive).  Most of the time was spent relaxing and doing nothing, or aggravating the rabbits with the digital camera.  However, tomorrow it's back to work, to both my day job and my writing. 

2010 promises to be a busy and, hopefully, successful year.  Shadowfire Press is publishing the digital version of The Vampire Hunters in March, and currently is reviewing the second and third books in the trilogy for possible publication.  The search is still on for a print publisher.  The final draft of the zombie vs. vampire novel needs to be completed, and after that I would like to start the next book this summer.  Plus I have a few short story ideas to hopefully get drafted. 

So tomorrow it's back to the keyboard.  Hopefully you'll all be with me to close out 2010, and won't be disappointed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Bunnies

Screw the snow.  I'm staying in here 'til it all melts. 

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

And it did.  We got nearly twenty-four inches of snow in northern Virginia by the time the blizzard passed over us late Saturday night.  This storm broke the regional record for the single largest December snowstorm and for the total snowfall for the month of December.  This view of my back deck gives you an idea of just how much we got.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Grateful for the Important Things in Life

It was not a Norman Rockwell moment.  I was sitting on the living room floor in front of my laptop.  Ruby was rubbing her chin against my wireless connector, threatening to knock me off line in the hopes I'll pay attention to her, and when that didn't work she proceeded to scratch at my back to get noticed.  Cocoa laid spread out on the floor beside me, begging to be petted.  Outside, snow quickly piled up on my driveway and front lawn.  If the meteorologists are correct, northern Virginia will get 20 inches of the white stuff before the storm passes through on Sunday (and as a transplanted New Englander who misses snow, I'm excited about this).  And in the midst of all this, I stared blankly at the computer screen, at a loss for anything to write. 

So I started surfing my favorite horror-related websites, if not to get ideas for this blog, to at least waste some time under the illusion that I was working.  That's when I discovered that the horror writing community suffered two losses the last two weeks. 

One was screenwriter Dan O'Bannon.  He penned the screenplays for numerous horror and Sci-Fi movies such as Alien, Total Recall, the B-17 sequence in Heavy Metal, and two of my favorite movies -- Lifeforce and Return of the Living Dead.  Dan passed away after a 33-year struggle with Crohn's Disease.

The other was mid-list novelist Z. A. Recht who wrote the zombie sagas Plague of the Dead and Thunder and Ashes, both of which sit in my library.  He died suddenly, leaving behind his parents and two siblings. 

That's when I got the idea for this blog.  I know it sounds cliche, but reading about the passing away of these writers reminded me about how much I have going for me.  My health.  A roof over my head.  Job security.  A house full of furry loved ones.  And, thanks to Shadowfire and Living Dead Presses, the fulfillment of my dream to become a published author.  It puts everything else into perspective.

I'm going to close out this blog and go feed the rabbits some treats.  If I'm lucky, I'll get a few nose licks out of it. 

Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good News, Bad News for Digital Publishing

First, the good news. The digital publishing market is steadily growing.

For those of you who missed it, this past Sunday The New York Times published a brief Q&A with Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. Naturally, the discussion turned to the Kindle. When asked what percentage of books that Amazon sells are digital, Jeff responded that for every 100 copies of a physical book sold by Amazon, 48 copies are sold in digital format. Jeff also noted that when they launched the Kindle two years ago, 90,000 titles were available for download. Currently, Amazon has 350,000 titles and is adding thousands more every week. According to Jeff, his goal is to eventually have available in digital format every book ever printed in all languages.

Now the bad news. At present, Amazon adds digital books to its holdings based on the popularity and sales of that book in printed format.

Okay, so that's not really bad news. It just means new authors are going to have to hustle to increase their sales and their popularity. Big deal. We planned on doing that anyway. So I guess this is mostly good news.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Bunnies

Ghiridelli, the little black guy on the left, developed an inner ear infection this week that has knocked off his balance and made him extremely disoriented (a syndrome called "head tilt").  Two trips to the vet and half a dozen medications later, and he's doing much better, but there's still a long way to go before he's back to normal.  Please keep him in your thoughts.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advice to New Authors: Do Not Sell Yourself Short

So, you've finally finished your first novel.  You've sacrificed endless hours of personal time with family and friends, have revised and redrafted your manuscript ad nauseum, and have finally sent out the first batch of queries.  Now all you have to do is wait around for the first acceptance letter to come in, and then sign your "fame and fortune" contract. 

Not so fast, my friend.  

The publishing industry has undergone major changes in the past few years, and not necessarily for the better (I'll blog more on these topics in future postings).  An increasing number of books are published each year, and more people are trying their luck at being writers.  Inevitably, a cottage industry has infiltrated the publishing field designed specifically to take advantage of aspiring authors.  Let me site two examples. 

While checking out a friend's blog last week, I stumbled across this story.  Link  Harlequin Romance has teamed up with Author Solutions to form a new vanity press, DellArte Press (formerly Harlequin Horizons).  In essence, Harlequin is declining to publish some submitted manuscripts because they do not feel the work is worthy enough for publication; however, Harlequin will be more than happy to provide that same author with their full range of vanity press services so the author can publish the book themselves -- for a fee, of course.  Harlequin should be ashamed of itself.

This is a variation of an old scam.  Years ago some small, disreputable publishers would positively respond to an author's query letter, telling him/her how much they liked the work, but pointing out that there were editorial weaknesses in the manuscript. that needed to be ironed out first.  Of course, the publisher just happened to have the name of a manuscript editor who they could recommend.  A lot of money was spent by authors on these sham editorial services, and very few of these publishers ever put out a book.  (I received a brochure once from one of these sham editorial services and gave it to the rabbits to chew, so they are good for something.)

The other scam to be aware of comes from some small, unknown publishers who tell an author how much they liked his/her work, and that they're sending out a contract.  Read that contract very carefully.  Several months ago I received one of these offers from a "publisher" that shall remain nameless.  Naturally, I was excited at the prospects of finally seeing my name on a book cover.  Then the contract arrived.   This publisher wanted all the rights (print, electronics, audio book, movie/TV/radio, proprietary rights) to my first four novels for perpetuity, and would reimburse me 10% on all sales made.  My response was much more polite than the "publisher" deserved.

I know at least a few of you may be thinking, "That's not a bad deal.  I've got a career and a family that occupies a lot of my time.  It would be great for someone else to do all the marketing and sales for me, even if I only get 10%."  Which is a fair observation.  And for some people it may seem like a good idea.  But before you sign on the dotted line, consider the following.

The contract does not necessarily mean a publisher will actively try to place these rights, only that they will own the rights.  So it does not translate into the publisher doing all the work and you cashing your check. 

What it does mean is that if a director calls from Hollywood and says they loved your novel and want to turn it into a movie, and sends you a check for $100,000, 90% of that goes to the publisher.  If Oprah talks about your book on her talk show and your book rockets to the bestsellers list, 90% of those profits go to the publisher.  And if you happen that you are the next J. K. Rowlings....  Let's put it this way, Miss Rowlings sold the movie rights to the first four Harry Potter books for 2 million dollars (let alone the rights to games, toys, etc.).  Under your contract, 90% of that would go to the publisher for doing nothing.

What I'm trying to get across to all the authors just starting out is not to sell yourself short.  You put a lot of time and effort into writing that first book, and if it's worthy of being published it's worthy of being published by a reputable publisher.  The temptation is great to grab at that first opportunity, but don't unless it's a good offer.  Something worth while will soon come along.  (Note to the reader:  Three weeks after rejecting that other "publisher's" offer, Shadowfire Press offered me a contract for my first novel, The Vampire Hunters, which I accepted.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Spoke Too Soon

The head cold I had since before Thanksgiving got alot worse this weekend.  I went to the emergency room Sunday night and found out I have bronchitis.  The doc loaded me up on medicines, and I'm just now beginning to feel human again. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekend Musings

There's nothing too exciting to write about this week.  I've been fighting a head cold since last Sunday that nearly became bronchitis this weekend.  Thankfully, I think I'm out of the woods and won't be joing the ranks of the hacking dead any time soon.

One item of interest.  Dawn's Reading Nook on 27 November posted an interview with me.  Please check it out at

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I just wanted to wish my readers a Happy Thanksgiving.  When you sit down today with family and friends, enjoy too many helpings of turkey and the trmmings, and then lapse into a turkey coma on the sofa, please take a moment to think of the men and women serving overseas who are putting their lives on the line every day to keep us safe here at home.  That is something to truly give thanks for. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Bunnies

Okay, so you're asking yourself what the hell do rabbits have to do with horror writing.  Technically, nothing.  However, like my writing, my six house rabbits are what ground me in sanity when the real world starts sucking big time, and they've taught me not to take myself too seriously.  Anyone who has a pet knows what I'm talking about.  So every Sunday I'll post a photo of one of my guys on the blog.  (For anyone interested in the stories of each of the furry residents of this household, please check out Cocoa's page on my website --

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting to the End, Slowly but Surely -- Final Chapter

I finished the zombie novel on Monday.  It came in at just under 100,000 words.  So now I'm going to take a break, work on the re-writes for The Vampire Hunters trilogy, and hopefully crank out another zombie short story.  But first, I'll reward myself by diving into Left 4 Dead 2.  (I picked up the game last night after work and spent 90 minutes trying it out.  Bloody awesome.  I've yet to decide if my favorite melee weapon is the chainsaw or the katana sword.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting to the End, Slowly But Surely -- Part III

I'm up to 98,000 words in the zombie novel.  All I have to do now is finish off the epilogue. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting to the End, Slowly but Surely - Part II

Had a very productive day.  Wrote 5000 words.  The book is now at 93,000.  All I need to do is finish off the final battle between humans and zombies, and then draft the closing chapter.  With luck I should have it completed this weekend.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Getting to the End, Slowly but Surely

Had a fairly productive weekend with the zombie novel. I'm up to 88,000 words. I hope to have the first draft of the manuscript completed by Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Greetings From a New Blogger

Thank you for visiting this blog. I don't know what search term brought you here, but I hope you're not disappointed.

I'm an aspiring horror author. After six years of writing and three years of trying to get published, I finally got my break. Since April of this year I've had three works published or accepted for publication. Living Dead Press has published two short stories about zombie outbreaks -- "Cruise of the Living Dead" in their Dead Worlds: Volume 3 anthology (August 2009), and "Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly" in their Christmas Is Dead anthology (October 2009). Living Dead Press publishes quality anthologies from up-and-coming authors who love the genres, so if hordes of the walking dead and gallons of gore is your thing, please check them out.

Even more exciting, in March 2010 Shadowfire Press will publish as an e-book my first novel, The Vampire Hunters, which is an urban fantasy about a small band of humans hunting vampires in contemporary Washington D.C. Shadowfire Press also has expressed interest in the next two books of The Vampire Hunters trilogy. The vampires in my books are not romantic figures trying to find a place in society. While I understand the popularity of such books and do not in any way mean to denigrate this genre and its authors, I'm an old school horror fan who grew up watching Peter Cushing battling Christopher Lee. My vampires are purely evil and see humans as nothing more than a means by which to satiate their desires.

For those of you who typed in the search term "rabbits" and wound up here, Google is not malfunctioning. I'm dad/staff/servant to six house rabbits. Cocoa, the mottled white-brown lop pictured above, was the inspiration for the character van Helsing in my vampire trilogy. So if the thump in the night you crave is from something cute and furry, don't go any further.

Blogging is a brave new world for me, and I'll try not to make it boring.  I hope to post to this site as regularly as possible and fill you in on the latest news on the writing front, mental musings from me about writing or horror-related topics, or maybe the latest rabbit mischief.