Thursday, October 30, 2014

Severing My Future Relationship with Permuted Press

For anyone who is in the industry or is a close follower of the genre, I'm sure you have all heard about the controversy surrounding Permuted Press these past few weeks. I was one of the many authors impacted by the fallout and, after thinking about this long and carefully, and changing my mind half a dozen times, I have decided to sever my future relationship with Permuted Press.

I do not want to use this blog to rehash the history of what happened at Permuted or to air dirty laundry. Suffice it to say, my two main reasons for leaving are entirely professional. First, I believe the new business practices put into place by the current management, while perfectly legitimate and viable, are detrimental to many of those authors associated with the publishing house and will hurt the Permuted brand name in the long term. More importantly, my decision was prompted by continued delays in scheduling a release date for the next two books in the Rotter saga.

The good news is that I am now moving forward with the release of Rotter Nation and Rotter Apocalypse, the sequels to Rotter World. The manuscripts are completed and in various stages of revision, and I am hoping to make both books available in 2015. Nation and Apocalypse greatly expand on the original, taking the characters and the story to dark and disturbing places, and concluding with the final confrontation between mankind and the living dead. I am exploring numerous options and will hopefully have an update very soon.

Because I still have several years to go on my contract for Rotter World, that book will still be published by Permuted in print, Kindle, Nook, and audio formats.

Thanks to my colleagues, friends, and fans for all your support. Here's hoping next year is very promising for the living dead.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On Writing: The Mechanics of Writing

“I have a story idea in mind and am psyched to begin writing. What’s the best way to get started? Should I outline the plot first, or just jump in and write?”

There’s no right or wrong method to plot out your novel. The mechanics of writing is one of personal choice, so go with whatever method works best for you.

For example, Jeffery Deaver creates meticulous outlines for his novels, detailing each scene and key segments of dialogue on sheets of paper and sticky notes that fill the walls of his study. He admits that it takes him months to come up with such a detailed framework. However, when he sits down to actually write the novel, it doesn’t take him long to finish the manuscript since most of the work is already completed.

I prefer a less structured method. When plotting out my novel, I keep a stack of lined 3x5 cards handy and write down scenes as I think of them, including anything that I want to put into the scene such as descriptions, plot points, or snippets of dialogue. Before writing, I arrange the cards in the order I want the book to flow. This allows me to outline the major themes in the plot while allowing enough flexibility that I can add or re-order scenes easily.

These represent the two extremes of organization, and most of you will use a method of plot outlining that falls somewhere in between. What is important is, no matter which method you use, be sure you have a firm grasp of the conflict, how that conflict changes the main character(s), and the resolution of your story before you begin writing. You can always change those elements later. But if you don’t have a basic idea where your story starts and ends, no amount of outlining will turn it into a viable manuscript. Trust me on this one. I have several short stories taking up space on my hard drive because I wrote them based on a single scene, but have yet to find an effective way to finish them.

“Thanks. This has been a big help. While you’re here, can you give me any tips on writing?”

Yes, I can. But this is not the blog series for that. There are thousands of books out there dedicated to instructing someone on how to write a book. They cover all the aspects of the craft–plot, setting, character development, voice, etc. There are even books that tell you how to write in specific genres. Feel free to use them if you want. No one has ever become a bad writer by reading these works.

In my opinion, however, the best way for someone to become a good writer is by reading numerous books to see how other authors write. When I say read a lot, I mean it. Go through at least one book a week. Start with the classics. We’re still reading Twain, Hemingway, Austen, and the like not just because our English professors are sadists, but because those authors knew how to write compelling stories that have stood the test of time (except for Great Expectations, but don’t get me started on that one). Then read a wide variety of books and authors in your genre as well as outside of it.

And don’t forget to read trashy books, whether they’re pulp novels meant solely to entertain and entice, or novels that are just horribly written. Figure out what those authors did to make their work so laughable or painful to read, and learn from their mistakes. Remember, it takes a long time and many published works to build up a fan base, but only one poorly-written story or novel to turn off readers forever.

While I won’t offer writing tips in this blog series, I do want to point out that there are certain aspects of the craft you need to pay close attention to if you ever hope to get out of the slush pile and get published. These points have been reiterated to me time and again by publishers and literary agents, all of whom said that when they see these mistakes in query submissions, they immediately take the work out of contention.

The first is grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Over time you’ll find your own style and voice. If you don’t have the basics down, you’ll find it that much more difficult to break away from the thousands of other authors bombarding publishers and agents with their manuscripts. Make sure you proof read your final work carefully. You may have written the next bestseller, but if your sample chapters are full of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and incorrect punctuation, good luck getting a publisher or agent to read beyond the first few pages. Even if they see the potential in your book, they’ll view you as sloppy and will think carefully before taking you on. If it comes down between you and an author whose writing is solid, who do you think will get the contract?

Realistic dialogue is also very important, so of course it’s one of the hardest parts to get right. If you write dialogue so that it’s grammatically correct, it will sound stilted and will turn off the reader. If you write it to sound like every day conversations, you run the risk of making your characters sound like idiots. I trained myself to write decent dialogue by listening to others talk. This has the added benefit of letting people think you’re the silent, mysterious type (or they’ll just think you’re weird or an introvert, which most writers are).

Finally, make sure you maintain the continuity of your story and characters. If your main character’s name is Ken Smith, always refer to him as either Ken or Smith throughout the story, and do not interchange the names. Keep your secondary characters straight as well; if you call someone Bob when he first appears in chapter three, make sure you don’t call him Bill when he reappears in chapter ten. If you describe your main character as being bald in chapter one, don’t have him run his fingers through his hair in chapter five. If your character is a devout Mormon, don’t show him/her drinking a cup of coffee without explaining why. If your story is set in Victorian-era New York City, don’t have electric street lamps lining the streets. These are the minutiae that are easy to overlook. When publishers or agents catch them, they immediately get the impression that you’re sloppy (see above). If your readers catch them, you lose them quickly. I have had several authors who write historical dramas tell me that the worst criticism they receive from readers is when they get some fact wrong.

So consider yourself forewarned. Now get out there and start writing. Your public is waiting.

NEXT BLOG: Traditional Publishing or Self-Publish?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Congratulations to the Spooky Empire Contest Winner

Congratulations to Kevin Orth who won my giveaway contest at the Spooky Empire Convention this past weekend. Kevin will receive a zombie USB drive as well as a free e-book copy of Nazi Ghouls From Space. I hope you enjoy it.

The Motion Pictures' Review of Yeitso

The Motion Pictures, a website dedicated to the blogger's love of classic movies, recently reviewed Yeitso, noting that it "certainly evokes the tone and storytelling of a great mid-century B movie. Baker’s style of writing is highly cinematic. Baker is fully aware that his novel has B movie leanings, having been inspired by the films he grew up watching. He definitely uses it to his advantage, paying homage to the genre." You can read the entire review here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Interesting Posts from Other Websites

I know this is from Cracked, but it is still an accurate if somewhat tongue-in-cheek listing of the Five Things Every Movie Gets Wrong About the Apocalypse. Having said that, the next question is how difficult would it be to write compelling post-apocalyptic drama if writers stuck to reality (although scenario number one in the post has some interesting possibilities)?

This is an interesting article that was posted on Zombob's Zombie News and Review detailing possible mentions of the reanimated dead in Medieval literature. Medieval Zombies? discusses the Anglo-Saxon poem The Three Living and the Three Dead and accompanying bas-de-page miniatures.

Finally, most of my fans know I enjoy Steampunk and have even dabbled in the genre myself. Lindsey Stirling has released a new Steampunk-style video called Roundtable Rival that is fantastic.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Making My Novels More (P)interesting

Is there really a Site R and a Fort McClary? How was Antioch laid out during the Crusades, or Peenemunde at the end of World War II? What did the Amerika Rakete look like? Or a Pontiac Torpedo staff car or a Buffalo-Springfield two-wheel roller?

Do these questions keep you up at night?

Your quest for answers has been fulfilled. For those of you on Pinterest, I have several boards posted there for Yeitso, The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon, Nazi Ghouls From Space, and Rotter World. Each of the boards contains maps, photographs, and other research material I used when writing the books. Rather than just let them sit on my computer taking up hard drive space, I thought I'd Pin them and hopefully give the readers a better feel for the respective books. 

I have other boards on writing, monsters, history, and post-apocalyptic art that are also entertaining and, in some instances, informative (who would have thought).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coffin Hop Blog Tour: Are Zombies Still Relevant?

Are zombies still relevant in today’s horror genre?  

Click on Coffin Hop to go to the other websites participating in the blog tour.

It’s a legitimate question. AMC's The Walking Dead succeeded in doing what no other television show, movie, or novel has ever accomplished--that is, making zombies mainstream. The series is one of the most watched programs on television, and the convention circuit and merchandising for The Walking Dead is an industry onto itself. Although not everyone may be a fan of the show, I doubt there's anyone between the ages of six and sixty who have not heard of the series.

As in all genres, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and also the best way to make a quick buck. Since the early 2000s, a seemingly endless influx of zombie fiction, movies, and video games has flooded the market. Fans have been treated to some truly outstanding books (The Rising, Patient Zero, and World War Z), films (The Horde, Zombieland, and The Dead), and video games (Resident Evil, Dead Island, Dead Rising, and Left 4 Dead). Unfortunately, we have also seen zombies placed in every scenario imaginable. The living dead have faced off against strippers, cheerleaders, ninjas, and cockneys. A zombie apocalypse has been the focus of a commercial for Toshiba computers in which an electrical glitch in a laptop plunges the world into a living dead nightmare. Enough zombie romances have entered the market to spawn the creation of its own genre name, “zomroms” (when they start to sparkle, I'm shifting genres and writing erotica).   Traditionally, once a horror icon becomes the subject of farce, it marks its inevitable demise. (A good case in point is Universal Studio’s cache of monsters from the 1930s and 1940s, all of whom lumbered through countless resurrections until permanently put to death by Abbott and Costello).

Zombies, however, are different. They fill a niche that no other creatures are capable of. 

Vampires, werewolves, and other ghoulish creatures and creepy crawlies will always thrill us. Vampires appeal to that dark erotic nature of our personalities that we keep bridled, while werewolves remind us of how violent and uncontrollable our subconscious truly is. The other monsters are adult manifestations of those things in the closet that scared us as kids. They are pure fantasy, and we know it. But we don't care. We sit in a darkened movie theater, or become engrossed in the pages of a novel, and relish what horrors await. Deep down we know that as long as the characters can make it through to the end, then they will continue to live out normal lives.

Zombies, on the other hand, strike a chord with us for two reasons that tap into our deepest most emotional and psychological fears.

First, there is an undertone of realism to the zombie genre that is terrifying. Despite exaggerated reports of Ebola victims rising from the dead or the ingestion of bath salts turning drug addicts into the living dead, no one honestly expects a zombie apocalypse. What is frightening about the scenario, however, is that it represents a total collapse of society as we know it and the breakdown of everything we hold dear. We didn't create our own Hell by messing around with a Ouija board or a black and gold puzzle box. Factors beyond our control initiated the outbreak, and now we are left helpless to defend ourselves and our families as the living dead hunt us down in our own neighborhoods

This has been brought home to us repeatedly over the past decade thanks to twenty-four hour cable news, which have piped microcosms of catastrophe into our homes. We’ve all watched the flood waters of Katrina inundate New Orleans and tsunamis devastate the coast of Japan. It took days, and in some cases weeks, before local and federal governments were able to enter the devastated areas and regain control. In the case of New Orleans, the devastation was accompanied by the collapse of the social order. Looters took advantage of the chaos. People had to fend for themselves in order to survive, often against the local authorities. Our hearts went out to the victims of these natural disasters while a part of us breathed a sigh of relief that there but for the Grace of God goes us. Thanks to the zombie genre, we would suddenly become those nameless victims, and would be forced to confront bitter realities about how we would react in such a situation.

Second, as strange as it sounds, a zombie apocalypse provides a grim hope for the future in the form of a "reset" button. All the seemingly insurmountable troubles we face disappear, and the playing field is leveled overnight. We're no longer a part of the 1% or the 99%, a liberal or a conservative, a payer of taxes or a recipient of a government subsidy, a member of the elite or the working class. All of our debts, our past mistakes, and our concerns would be wiped out with the spread of the outbreak. Our possessions and social status would become irrelevant. All that matters now would be our strengths and abilities, and the direction our morale compass points.

One of my favorite zombie movies is Zack Snyder's 2004 reimaging of Dawn of the Dead because it is a superb portrayal of how ordinary people would react during a total collapse of the social order. Would we become Anna or Michael, who try to maintain their humanity even after losing everything dear to them? Would we become Kenneth, who opts to look out only for himself? Would we become CJ, the mall security guard who turns away the survivors because “no one here is infected and I intend to keep it that way?” Or would we be Tucker or Frank, the nameless faces that blend into the background and merely go on existing, only to become the red shirts of the survivors? Confronting how we would actually behave in such a situation can be scarier than dealing the zombie apocalypse itself.

The struggle between surviving and maintaining some semblance of humanity is what the genre is all about. (That, of course, combined with some intense gut-munching, head shooting action and buckets of blood and gore.) This is why zombies will always be relevant to the genre.

Contest: Thank you for making me one of your stops on the Coffin Hop Blog Tour. As my way of saying thank you, I'm giving away a zombie USB drive (like the one of the left) that contains an EPub version of my latest novella Nazi Ghouls From Space. It's like a Trick or Treat bag with something really nice inside, only this is electronic.

To enter, all you have to do is:

-- Follow my blog.

-- Leave a comment below on which is your favorite zombie movie, TV show, or novel and why.

The contest concludes at midnight on 31 October. On 1 November, a name will be randomly selected and the winner of the USB will be notified. Good luck, and keep digging up those coffins.

Coffin Hop Blog Tour 2014

This year I'll be joining the Coffin Hop Blog Tour from 24-31 October. What is it, you ask? It's an annual event for independent and genre horror writers to help them gain exposure and introduce them to a greater number of fans and readers. Hundreds of horror writers are involved, with many posting blogs in the spirit of Halloween or the genre that we all love so much. In addition, prizes will be given away at each stop on the hop.

Starting tomorrow, just click here to participate in the tour. That will take you to the Coffin Hop homepage and, from there, you'll be able to start digging through the graveyard of blog stops. I'll be posting my Halloween-related blog tomorrow, along with the details on my own prize giveaway.

The Kindle Version of The Vampire Hunters Is FREE 23-27 October

Emby Press and I would love to give all the horror fans out there a special Trick or Treat gift. Since having you all come over to our homes to hand out candy is not feasible, instead we decided to offer you a free Kindle book.

From 23-27 October the Kindle version of The Vampire Hunters will be FREE on Amazon. That's even better than free candy because The Vampire Hunters is not fattening, lasts longer than chocolate, and will always look awesome on your Kindle carousel.

You won't find a better deal than that unless you get Alexander Skaarsgard or Kate Beckinsale to come to your house and read it to you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On Writing: What To Write About

“Okay, I get it. If I write one page a day, in a year I’ll have a novel. My problem is I have no idea what to write about.”

You’re sitting on a mother lode of ideas. You just haven’t mined them yet.

A good story, no matter what the genre, is about conflict. It’s about developing your main character(s) so that the reader likes (and hopefully can relate) to them, and then placing obstacles in the way of them obtaining their goals. The story is not so much about the challenges as it is how the main character(s) confront these challenges by overcoming their weaknesses and expanding on their strengths. The story is not about the conclusion. It’s about the journey to that concluding page, and what the main character(s) learn about themselves on the way.

Think of how boring The Lord of the Rings would have been if Bilbo had decided to keep the ring for himself rather than give it to Frodo to return to Mount Doom. Or if Ralphie’s mother had acquiesced in the opening scene of A Christmas Story and agreed to buy him an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot air model range rifle. Or if Shelby from Steel Magnolias did not have a medical condition that endangered her life during pregnancy.

Such stories come from within us. There’s no one reading this blog who hasn’t experienced some type of conflict, whether it’s as simple as a troubled romance, as life altering as death or illness or surviving combat, as traumatic as disloyalty or loss of honor, or as frustrating (or comical, depending on the situation) as a dysfunctional family. Tap into those emotions and build your story around them. Will it be painful or uncomfortable to bear your soul like this? Probably. But if you can be honest to your emotions and successfully weave them into your novel, you’ll relate to your readers.

That’s what writing is all about.

So if I may use an old clich├ęd phrase, write what you know.

“Write what you know? You write about zombies and vampires. What do you know about them?”

Good question. I asked the same thing years ago of Brian Keene, author of The Rising, the novel that launched a new wave of zombie apocalypse stories. The Rising is about Jim Thurmond who lives on the West Coast. As civilization crashes around him, Jim gets a phone call from his young son on the East Coast asking his father to come rescue him; he sets out on foot across a zombie-infested country in a desperate journey to save his son. Prior to writing the novel, Brian had received a phone call from his ten-year-old son whom he had not seen since infancy and who wanted to meet. He made the trip, all the while wondering what their meeting would be like. Brian later wrote about that emotional turmoil in The Rising, and then added some zombies.

Brian’s advice helped me to find my focus for The Vampire Hunters. At its essence, the story is about the war on terror and how those fighting it deal with the reality that for every terrorist brought down, ten others take his place. My main characters embody the three primary outlooks of any long-term struggle: Drake Matthews, the gung-ho commander who’s in the fight for the long haul no matter how long it takes; Alison Monroe, who follows Drake willingly but who, at some point, wants to put down her weapons lead a normal life; and Jim DelMarco, the young kid drafted into the conflict who does not want to be there, but who fights anyway. The trilogy deals with how each of these characters handles the stresses of combat, and how their experiences prepare them for the final battle. Then I substituted vampires for terrorists.

So write what you know, but don’t be afraid to embellish a bit.

From The Simpsons episode "The Book Job"
A final note: One thing that every publisher and agent has told me is not to write your own iteration of the latest blockbuster. The DaVinci Code and Twilight were overnight phenomenon because they were new and distinctly unique, which is why they sparked the public’s imagination. After each of these novels went to the best seller list, publishing houses and literary agencies were inundated with knock-offs, most of which were not very good. Sure, some of them got published. But rarely did any of these enjoy the success of the original works. Your goal should be to write a novel so unique that five years from now other writers will want to imitate you.

NEXT BLOG: The Mechanics of Writing

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Congratulations to the Walker Stalker Contest Winner

Congratulations to Sabrina Given who won my giveaway contest at the Walker Stalker Convention this past weekend. Sabrina will receive a zombie USB drive as well as a free e-book copy of Nazi Ghouls From Space. I hope you enjoy it.

For those of you attending Spooky Empire this coming weekend, I'll be having a similar drawing, so pop on by my table and enter to win. See you there.

I'll Be Attending Spooky Empire in Orlando 24-26 October

It seems like I just finished one convention and now I have another one coming up. On 24-26 October, I'll be sharing a table with my wife and fellow writer Alison Beightol at Spooky Empire in Orlando. The attending celebrities and writers this year are awesome, as is the weekend schedule of events.

Since Spooky Empire is author-centric, there will be numerous writing-related panels throughout the weekend. I'll be appearing on the following ones:

Friday, 24 October

6 PM -- Keeping the Bodies Fresh: How do writers keep tried and true monsters like vampires and zombies still new and exciting?

9 PM -- Sick and Twisted: This panel is restricted to adults only because of the violent and extreme content that will be discussed, and also because of the drunk writers.

Saturday, 25 October

12 PM -- Author's Network:This is where the writers mingle with the fans. A great way to get to meet and talk to your favorite writers and ask them questions.

2 PM -- Writing the Fight: A discussion by various writers on how they craft the fight scenes in their novels.

7 PM -- Down with the Sickness: A look into how diseases spread and how variations on this can be used in writing a novel.

Sunday, 26 October

11 AM -- Sympathy for the Devil: Writers analyzes the rise of sympathetic monsters/villians and discuss their place in book and movies.

Swing on by and join in the fun. This promises to be one of the best conventions ever.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Horror-Asylum Giveaway of Yeitso

Between now and 3 November, my friends over at Horror Asylum are running a contest in which the prizes are three free copies of Yeitso. To enter, all you need to do is swing by their contest posting and answer one simple question about me. What could be easier than that?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Leaving for Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta

I'll be leaving early tomorrow morning to drive to Atlanta to attend the Walker Stalker Convention this weekend. If any of my followers plan on being at the convention, please swing by my table and say hello. I'll even have a contest running with a special prize for the winner. Hope to see you there.

On Writing: How To Write Well

“So all I have to do is write a page a day and in a year I’ll have a novel good enough to be published?”

Not necessarily. You’ll have a novel. Whether it’s good enough to be published is another matter.

Remember, writing is a skill. You have to practice at your craft to become good at it.

I used to write espionage/techno thrillers. I don’t even admit to my first book because, in retrospect, it was crap. The second book showed considerable improvement, but was still not publishable. By the third book I had found my style. The plot dealt with North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons and planting four of them in cities in the United States to blackmail the government. I quickly picked up an agent who presented it to several publishers, all of whom liked the manuscript. Unfortunately, this occurred right after 11 September, and the market in that genre collapsed overnight. So I switched genres. It had taken me years to get to that point, and then I had to start all over. Rather than viewing it as a setback, however, I saw this as a slight detour. That decade of experience well prepared me for writing in the horror genre.

So get out there and write.

And just as important, submit you work.

“But what if my work isn’t good enough and it gets rejected?”

Don’t get depressed if it gets rejected–that’s the nature of the game. It happens to all authors. And not all rejections are bad. Occasionally an editor/publisher sends you feedback; if they do, consider yourself fortunate. Most editors/publishers reject stories and manuscripts with a simple form letter, if they even respond at all. If one of them takes the time to offer you feedback, that means he/she sees potential in you work, and is taking the time to help you hone your skills. Take advantage of that opportunity.

The best way to hone your skills is to get readers who will provide critical feedback. Your mother and significant other do not count–chances are they’ll say it’s good, even if it isn’t. Find a good writer’s group with published authors or aspiring authors who are also interested in improving their craft. If you do go this route, remember two very important things.

First, find critique groups that will provide honest feedback. I’ve seen too many groups where the members will tear someone else’s work to shreds, but become indignant if you provide any critical feedback on their material. Avoid those groups like you would a horde of ravenous zombies. They’re filled with people who think ripping apart your work will somehow make them better writers. Trust me, it doesn’t work that way.

Second, and this is the hardest thing, is lock away your ego in a dark room during feedback sessions. As long as the feedback isn’t personal, listen to it and adopt it where appropriate. Every author is wedded to his/her work and hates to hear that it is not quite as good as he/she thought it was. Get over yourself. I did.

Remember, no matter how well you write, there is always room for improvement. Your goal is not to write the best book ever written. Your goal is to write the best book you possibly can. Every work has flaws. The reader will overlook an occasional grammatical error or spelling mistake as long as the rest of the story is entertaining and compelling enough to keep them glued to the edge of their seat. Then you’ve succeeded as a writer.

NEXT BLOG: What To Write About

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon Is Available for Kindle

This is a big week for me. Not only was the Kindle version of Nazi Ghouls from Space released, Emby Press released the Kindle version of Vampyrnomicon, the second book in The Vampire Hunters trilogy. The paperback version should be available within a few weeks.

The third and blockbuster finale of the trilogy, Dominion, is scheduled for publication in spring 2015.

The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon

Within the vaults of the Smithsonian Institute lies the key to finding the Vampyrnomicon, the Book of the Undead, that contains the history and secrets of the vampires.  According to legend, whoever possesses the book can establish a vampire nation on earth – or destroy the undead once and for all.  With an opportunity to end the war against the undead so close, Drake Matthews is determined to find the book.  

But the vampires also want The Vampyrnomicon.  When Master Chiang Shih and her coven of the most powerful and dangerous vampires arrive in Washington to claim the book as their own, the hunters find themselves facing their most dangerous enemy yet.  With the stakes so high, so is the ferocity of the struggle.

Congratulations to the Goodreads Giveaway Winners of Yeitso

The Goodreads Giveaway of Yeitso ended yesterday morning. The winners of an autographed copy of the novel are:

-- Sarit DanaYahalomi

-- Trisha Marie Balmer

-- Kendra Nichols

-- Vinamra Gharat

-- Daniel Jefferyes

Your autographed copies are in the mail. I hope you enjoy them.

Thanks to all of you who participated in the giveaway. Please continue following me on Goodreads because I'm preparing more giveaways for later this year.

Nazi Ghouls From Space Is Available for Kindle!!!

Two days ago I mentioned that soon I'd have exciting news. Well, here it is.

I've always said that the only thing more awesome than zombies are Nazi zombies. For the past few months I've put my money where my mouth is and have been working on a novella titled Nazi Ghouls from Space. Last night, it became available on Kindle (the paperback version will be released in the coming weeks).

The other exciting news: As a Halloween gift to all my fans, I'm offering Nazi Ghouls from Space for only $0.99 until 31 October. After that, the price will increase to $2.99. Unless Elvira comes Trick or Treating to your house, you're not going to get a better deal than that.

So grab a copy while you can and spread the word to your friends. And if you like the novella, please leave a review on Amazon. If you don't like it, just egg my house and we'll call it even.

The title speaks for itself, but if you need more reasons to buy the novella, here's the jacket blurb:

January 1945. The Allies have crossed the German border. In a desperate effort to avoid the inevitable defeat, the Third Reich develops a long-range rocket capable of striking the United States. Three German soldiers pilot the capsule, volunteers who agreed to test fly the craft to ensure victory for the Fatherland. However, a technical malfunction propels them into orbit with no way to bring them home.

July 1947. The capsule plummets back to Earth and crashes in the isolated flats of the New Mexico desert. What returns are not the bodies of the three German soldiers lost in space for over two years, but something far more ghoulish. When an unsuspecting rancher opens the hatch to check inside, he unleashes on America the reanimated bodies of the test pilots who are now living dead creatures that crave human flesh. 

Also, I want to give a shout out to Morgan Carrie, the very talented artist who did the cover art for the novella. If you like Morgan's work, check out her website Artful Treasures.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm Going To Have Some Exciting News To Share in the Next Few Days

I've been planning something special for a while now for the upcoming Walker Stalker and Spooky Empire conventions, and I should be able to announce it within the next few days.

More Interesting Posts from Other Websites

The Guardian recently conducted an interview with Peter Piot, one of the Belgian scientists who first identified Ebola in 1976. It's a fascinating story about how Peter and his colleagues realized that the infection they were dealing with was in fact something never before observed by man, and concludes with a frank and sobering assessment of how to deal with the current outbreak.

Looks like Ebola isn't going away any time soon (though that doesn't mean we're in for a pandemic, either). CBS reported on remarks by CDC Director Tom Frieden to a top-level Washington forum in which he stated that the current outbreak is comparable to the AIDS epidemic. The Ominous Math of the Ebola Epidemic is a scientific analysis by The Washington Post on the outbreak and the likelihood that the spread of the virus will continue.

If alien invasions are your thing, then check out The Great Martian War which blends World War I footage with an assault by Martians. Think War of the Worlds meets All Quiet on the Western Front.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blast From the Past: Spooky Empire 2013's Monster Hunter Panel

I found this partial video (approximately 18 minutes) of Spooky Empire 2013's Monster Hunter Panel. The panelists were myself; writer Indy McDaniel; Mitch Hyman, creator of Bubba, The Redneck Werewolf; and Roger Ma, author the Zombie Combat Manual and The Vampire Manual.

If you're going to be at Spooky Empire this 24-26 October, definitely drop by and check out some on the writers' panels. We may drink a little too much and not provide rational answers to your questions, but we all have one hell of a good time.

Two of My Out-of-Print Short Stories Are Now Available for Free

The first two short stories that I ever published back in 2008 -- "Incident on Ironstone Lane" and "Rednecks Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" -- have been out of print for several years. However, recently I joined Wattpad and was able to upload them so my fans can read them for free. I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Last Day for FREE Kindle Version of Yeitso; Only Two Days Left in Goodreads Giveaway

Today is the last day that Yeitso will be available for FREE for Kindle. Be sure to drop by and pick up your copy, and enjoy a blast from the past as Yeitso returns you to the good ole days of Creature Feature-style movies.

Also, there are less than three days left in the Goodreads giveaway of five autographed copies of Yeitso. Don't miss out. Enter now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On Writing: How To Find Time To Write That First Novel

“What do I have to do to be a writer?”


Believe it or not, it’s as simple as that. Writers write. It’s what we do. But you’d be surprised how many people forget that.

I’ve met several potential writers who have bragged about all the work they’ve done on their project. One had a detailed outline of their proposed novel. Another had 3x5 cards filled with biographical notes for each character. A third had a notebook in which he kept hours’ worth of research. When I asked them how far they had gotten in their book, they admitted they had not written anything yet. These people completely miss the point. Research, plot, and character are necessary, but not anywhere near as important as actually writing the book.

So get out there and start writing.

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re published and have plenty of time to write. I don’t.”

No one has time to write. You need to make time.

Most writers I know maintain a day job or have a very understanding significant other with a well-paying job and a lot of patience. Before I retired and was able to write full time, I used to get up at 6 AM and head off to work by 7 AM. If I was lucky, I’d be home around 5 PM. Then I had to feed, clean, and spend time with the pets (you don‘t own pets, pets own you); do chores and errands; and try to have some meager semblance of a social life. Yet, over the course of ten years, I managed to write six novels, a novella, and a dozen short stories. To do that, I made sacrifices. I rarely played video games, and had to force myself to take time for me and read or watch television. I don’t want to admit to the number of times I’d spend several hours cranking out a chapter, only to be greeted afterwards by sets of mopey brown eyes and furry dejected faces giving me that why-didn’t-you-play-with-me look.

Anyone who truly and passionately wants to write will find time to do so. Get up an hour early or stay up an hour late (as long as you devote that entire time solely to writing). If you commute by public transportation, use that time. Devote some of your “down time” to writing. Sure, you might have to forego watching X Factor or curtail your time surfing cute pet videos on YouTube, but are these really more important than getting your book written?


“Oh, come on. How much writing do you really expect me to get done in an hour a day?”

Let me put it this way. In that hour, anyone can write a single page. If you type in double space, that’s approximately 300 words a day. If you do that every day for a year, when you’re done you will have 365 pages totaling over 100,000 words. That, my friends, is a novel.

So what are you waiting for? Close down the Internet, call up your computer, and start writing.

NEXT BLOG: How To Write Well

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Girl Who Loves Horror Review of Yeitso

This week, The Girl Who Loves Horror posted a review of Yeitso. The reviewer said: "Yeitso was completely unlike any other horror book that I have read recently, and it is a wonderful nod to one of my favorite subsets of the horror genre." You can read the entire review here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway of Yeitso 6-13 October

I am running a Goodreads giveaway of Yeitso. The giveaway will run from 6-13 October and is open to everyone world wide. Five lucky winners will receive an autographed copy of the novel. So click here to enter.

The Kindle Version of Yeitso is FREE Until 10 October!!!

From now until 10 October, the Kindle version of Yeitso is FREE on Amazon. Be sure to grab a copy while you can.

Stay Tuned for Some Exciting News

In between finishing the first draft of Rotter Apocalypse and preparing to have The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon released this week, I've been working on a special project near and dear to my dark little heart that should be available to my fans in time for the Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta 17-19 October and Spooky Empire 24-26 October. So stay tuned.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

More Interesting Posts from Other Websites

I'm going to be lazy this week and post a list of lists from other websites. However, since most of these are useful for the upcoming Halloween holidays, hopefully I've redeemed myself.

Nothing says Halloween better than a horror movie marathon. Thanks to Joe Reid of The Atlantic, now you have a list of Every Horror Movie on TV This October. Enjoy. I know I will.

And if your horror movie viewing involves friends, be sure to entertain them properly with 20 Horrific Recipes for Your Halloween Party.

If after a horror-inspired dinner and a scary movie you want to tell ghost stories, 9 of the Most Terrifying Two Sentence Horror Stories Ever Told is guaranteed to turn your guests as white as a ghost's sheet.

Of course, the best way to celebrate Halloween is to attend Spooky Empire in Orlando 24-26 October to meet your favorite horror writers and celebrities. Spooky Empire posted their schedule of events this week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On Writing: The Four Stages of Your Writing Career

[NOTE: This series of blog posts was originally published in 2010 on Dawn's Reading Nook and in 2011 on Zombo’s Closet. I recently updated it, and was amazed at how much the industry has changed in just three years. I hope some of you find it useful.]

There’s an old joke that states a writer has four stages in his or her career.

The first stage: When a reader walks into a bookstore, lifts your book off of the shelf, and asks, “Who the hell is Scott M. Baker?”

The second stage: When a reader walks into the bookstore and asks the sales clerk, “Do you have the latest book by Scott M. Baker?”

The third stage: When a reader walks into the bookstore and asks the sales clerk, “Do you have any books by writers who write like Scott M. Baker used to?”

The fourth stage: When a reader walks into a bookstore, lifts your book off of the shelf, and asks, “Who the hell is Scott M. Baker?”

For everyone who has been published, they know all too well that there’s more reality than humor in that joke.

Every writer has to endure that first stage. Even Stephen King and J. K. Rowling were unknown entities on the day their first books were released. It was only after readers became aware of how incredibly adept they were at telling a story that they quickly became household names.

The sad truth is that many writers will never make it beyond the first stage, and those that do will find that marketing themselves and their books is as time consuming as writing the books. Sadly, success is not based on talent as much as it is hard work and good luck. Your novel may have a page-turning plot, compelling characters, and witty dialogue. But if the day your book comes out, you’re competing with an instant best seller such as a kiss-and-tell book from one of the Kardashian sisters, or the latest Dan Brown tome, or a diet plan on how to lose weight by eating red velvet cheese cake, or the biography of a pet with a cover photo of an incredibly cute ball of fur, then your novel will get lost in the hype. Success comes from spending years building a loyal cabal of readers who will follow you regularly and read everything you write.

Depressed yet?

If you said no, then you truly are a writer. Not necessarily a good writer. Or a prolific writer. Or a rich and famous writer. But a writer, nonetheless. Someone consumed by the hunger of putting words to paper. Someone who can listen to a quirky story on the news or spot a unique looking individual on the street, and within an hour have the plot of a story or novel mentally outlined. Someone who brings their laptop on vacation so they can write every day. For us, the writing is the passion, and seeing a complete story or novel in print is reward enough (though none of us will shut the door on fame and fortune if it comes knocking).

I’ve been fortunate. For several years I was intimately involved with Invisible Ink, the Central Intelligence Agency’s writers’ group. That opportunity allowed me to become acquainted with numerous writers, graphic novelists, screen writers, literary agents, and publishers. They talked openly about the publishing industry in general and their specific genres, and offered considerable advice. Their guidance was invaluable. I want to share some of that wisdom as well as my own experiences. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering some words of advice on how to get that first novel written and published. Will it guarantee you success as a writer?  No. Will it be sobering yet irreverent? Yes on both counts. My goal is hopefully to encourage beginning authors to pursue their passion and to let you know that you are not alone. 

So get your notebooks ready. I’ll see you next week.

NEXT BLOG: How To Find Time To Write That First Novel