Guest Post: Alistair Cross

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today, Alistair Cross has hi-jacked my blog.

Here’s a little info on the fiend who dared trespass here.

ac-headshot

Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, reached the bestseller’s list in its first week of release. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

Top Ten Writing Lessons I’ve Learned in Ten Years

Though I’ve been writing all my life, it wasn’t until ten years ago that I got serious about it. And I didn’t want to be a hobby-writer, either. I wanted to be a real-life, full-time professional who spends his time writing, editing, marketing, and well … doing it all – because that’s what writers do these days.

The road was long and winding, but in 2012, I finally got published. Since then, I’ve written several novels with bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and am now completing my second solo novel, The Angel Alejandro, which will be out early in 2017, as well as several other collaborations and solo projects.

And Tamara and I didn’t stop there. We also began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, where we interview authors, paranormal investigators, forensics experts, and anyone else who likes frolicking in the darkness with us. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some amazing people, and in the decade since I plunged myself into the strange world of creative enterprise, I’ve learned some things about writers, readers, the craft, and the business.

Some of these lessons were learned first hand and some of them through the wisdom of others, but all of them have proved profoundly valuable to me. The list that follows comes from my experience in the writing world, and I hope some of it may be useful to other writers … and interesting for readers.

1. Reading is the single most important thing to do if you want to improve your craft. Read everything … and read it with an active eye, taking in plot devices, pacing, theme, voice, dialogue, and character development. Reading trains the unconscious mind to find its own writing rhythm and gives you an “ear” for storytelling. So read. Not a little, but a lot. As Stephen King famously says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

2. There’s no such thing as ‘just a writer’ anymore. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when publishers spent copious amounts of time and money getting the word out about your new book. You’re not just an author anymore. You’re also a marketer, a public relations specialist, a social media virtuoso, and a business manager, among other things. Make peace with that, keeping in mind that no one will work as hard for you as you will. They never have and they never will. So be accountable for your career.

3. The cream rises to the top. In an age of do-it-yourself digital delirium, everyone’s an author. It’s easy to look at the bottomless pit of other writers and wonder how the hell anyone is going to find your work. But look closer and you’ll see how many of those authors fall off the map, disenchanted when their dreams of instant fame and fortune are promptly torn to pieces. Not to mention the profusion of books out there that simply aren’t any good. Readers are smart people and they know the difference between a good story and a poor one. They don’t come back to authors who write bad books. Keep writing damned good books and, like the proverbial cream, you’ll rise to the top.

4. Have heroes. Learn from the best. Once you’ve established what kind of writer you want to be, keep a close eye on those authors who inspire you. Study their work, learn from them. Stalk them on Twitter. But don’t get too stalkery. No one likes a creepster.

5. Set goals. Whether it’s a page amount, a word amount, or a paragraph amount, set daily goals. Don’t settle for the “when I get around to it” approach to writing. No one ever “gets around to it.”

alejandro-book-cover

6. Know the difference between a hobby and a job. If you want writing to be your job, you have to treat it like a job or no one else will. That means you set hours. The phone is off. The door is shut. You’re not readily accessible. If you don’t spend your time wisely, other people will happily spend it for you, so unless writing is a mere pastime for you, don’t let other people spend your time.

7.   Go big or go home. Don’t think you can only write for small markets, or that a high-powered literary agent won’t be interested, or that a big-name author is going to look down his or her nose at you. Know your worth and aim for the stars.

8. Walk through every door that opens. And if you keep at it, people will open doors for you. But getting through the door is the easy part. It’s up to you to earn your place in the room.

9. Never read your reviews. For better or worse, reviews are necessary, but they’re designed with other readers in mind – not the author. If you’re looking for a critique, get it from your agent, your editor, your publisher, another author, or an objective friend … anywhere but from the reviews section of the book retailer. Reading reviews – whether they be glowing or insulting – isn’t really doing you any favors.

10. Trust your characters. Some writers will say that you must keep your characters on a short leash and remain in full command of them at all times lest they sully your painstakingly-plotted story with their whimsical meanderings. But here’s the thing: Those seemingly frivolous departures from your plans are where the characters come to life. And when the characters come to life, that’s when the magic happens. I say let your characters go where they want, let them say what they want … let them tell you their story. Let yourself be as delighted and surprised by them as your readers will be.

alejandro-promo

You can stalk Alistair at the following places:

★ Author’s website: http://www.alistaircross.com/

★ Author’s social media links:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Alistair-Cross/e/B00N446AZS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6517308.Alistair_Cross

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crossalistair

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrossAlistair

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/alistaircross/

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The post-publication blues

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

I think the post-publication blues is something that all writers go through. It hits about a week or so after the book lands on the virtual or actual store shelves. It creeps up on you once the publication high starts to dwindle and you start to obsessively check your sales numbers on Amazon and Draft2Digital. It smacks you right in the gut when the sales aren’t what you hoped they would be and the reviews you were hoping for don’t come in as quick as you thought they would. It scratches on your brain-stem when everything seems to drag and you feel like the publishing quagmire is sucking you in and your words will be lost forever and there’s no hope insight.

But then some kind soul buys your book or one of those reviews you’ve been waiting for come out and it’s a really good one. You know one of those reviews that make you cry because someone really really loved the words you painstakingly put together. Or you write a really good sentence for your new book and a smile twitches at the corner of your mouth and you start to think there may be hope after all.

But then you’re back to obsessively checking those non-existent sales figures and the downward spiral starts all over again. It’s a vicious cycle, one which I haven’t found a cure for yet. The only thing I can do while I’m in the grips of the post-publication blues is try not to check my non-existent sales figures everyday. Every time I do I know I’m just going to slide further down that hole. And yet I still check them hoping that by some miracle someone bought a copy of one of my books.

I need to focus on the few things in this industry that I can control, like working on the new book and trying to focus on doing some publicity for my existing books. Whether or not people buy my books or write a review is beyond my control. Which sucks hairy arse, but that’s life as a writer.

So while I battle through my blues I’m going to grab my mug of coffee, try to ignore that nagging impulse to check my latest sales figures, write a few words even if they’re crap, and focus on my upcoming blog tour starting on the 12th of October. Wish me luck!

 

13 Questions with Mercedes M. Yardley

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today we have Mercedes M. Yardley in the interrogation seat.

Mercedes Aurthor pic

Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair.  She was a contributing editor for Shock Totem Magazine and currently works with Gamut, a new neo-noir magazine. Mercedes is the author of many diverse works, including Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls, and the BONE ANGEL trilogy. She recently won the Bram Stoker Award for her story Little Dead Red.  Mercedes lives and works in Las Vegas, and you can reach her at www.abrokenlaptop.com.

You can also stalk Mercedes on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

  1. What drives you to write? 

MMY: “Drives” is the right word. I don’t simply write for fun or because it’s a cheery little thing to do. I write because I’m compelled to. It’s how I figure things out and learn what I’m really thinking. I tried no to write for years, getting “real” jobs and trying to be an adult. It was a horrible time. It stole my soul away. I’m a writer to my very core. 

  1. What attracted you to writing horror? 

Mercedes Dead RedMMY: I’ve always been a dark little girl. I think horror is delicious and a healthy way to explore your fears in a safe environment. When the book closes or the lights come up, you ultimately get to go home and crawl into your warm bed. You felt that emotion, that thrill and excitement, with no harm to you. Horror is a way to live life fully without harm.

  1. Who are your favourite horror writers? 

MMY: I love Joyce Carol Oates. I love Shirley Jackson. I was a big fan of Stephen King growing up, because he can handle a large cast of characters deftly and beautifully.  There are some fantastic new writers, as well. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Michaelbrent Collings, Bracken MacLeod, and Lee Thompson. 

  1. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read? 

MMY: I’d suggest starting with the classics. Read Frankenstein. Read The Haunting of Hill House. Everyone should read The Silence of the Lambs and also Lord of the Flies at least once. 

  1. Ebooks or paperback?

MMY: I’m in the unpopular minority here. I prefer ebooks, simply because my family of five people, two rabbits, a crotchety turtle, and ephemeral visiting stray cat live in a house the size of a shoebox. I have a shelf of books I truly love, mostly signed, but other than that, I read ebooks or pass my paperbacks along. I love the feel of a paperback. I love the smell of one. But practicality has to rule sometimes. 

  1. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author? 

MMY: I’m attracted to anything that says “ghostly” or “serial killer” or “chickens.” I’ll look at novels due to word-of-mouth, but then I find that I’m horribly disappointed in them. I like to find things on my own and form my own opinions. Great covers help. 

  1. Who is your favourite fictional character? 

MMY: I adore Hannibal Lecter. I find him beautifully complex. Despite his savagery and Mercedes Dead Girlsbloodlust, he is still elegant and has intricate rules that he follows. That juxtaposition and depth of character is something unusual. 

  1. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes? 

MMY: Oh my goodness, I am the very antithesis of a plotter. I can’t do it because it feels like the story has already been told, and then I’ve lost in interest in it. I enjoy sitting down and seeing what happens at the keyboard. It keeps everything fresh and new for me as a writer. If the author is bored, how on earth is the reader going to be interested? Every day is an adventure at the computer. 

  1. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

MMY: They really do. If you develop a character well enough, they’re going to have their own innate personalities and boundaries. A kind, generous character wouldn’t suddenly stab somebody to death without good reason. It isn’t in their nature, and you can’t force them to do that unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. It’s a very cool and humbling thing to see that you’re trying to prod your character into an inorganic direction for them, and it doesn’t work. It’s only when you sit back and stay true to them that the story writes itself. 

  1. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

MMY: I prefer silence, but I’ll use music to block out other noise. In that case, it has to be something I’ve never heard before or something without lyrics, because otherwise I’ll sing along. 

  1. Do you do a lot of research for your stories? 

MMY: I try not to drown in research. I do enough to get by, but many of my stories play with magical realism, where things Just Are. That aspect allows me to get away with the ethereality of the story without tethering it too closely to reality. I research enough that I hopefully don’t embarrass myself, but that’s about it. 

  1. Facebook or Twitter?

MMY: Facebook all the way. Twitter is basically the comments section of the Internet, and Mercedes Namelessnobody wants that.

  1. What really pisses you off about writing?

MMY: Writing can be terribly lonely. It needs to be done in solitude. Even if I’m in the kitchen with the kiddos and even have one on my lap while writing, I can’t be connected to my children. I’m inside my head. Preferably, I’m thinking about my work alone. I’m typing alone. I’m revising alone. The other day I was at a speaking engagement and somebody asked my nine-year-old what she thought about her mom being an author. She said, “She never has time to play with me. She’s always at the computer.” That hurt my soul. Writing takes time, effort, consistency, and discipline. It’s hard. And when we do put in the work to create something lovely, something that takes our breath away and makes us whole, it steals time from the other wonderful parts of our lives. Is it worth it? Yes, within reason. I’m still struggling with balance.

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Have you read any of her books? I have to say I love her covers and can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on a copy of three of her books.

Remember to hit that subscribe button to keep up with all the news, reviews, and interviews. And feel free to leave a comment or three. It’s always nice to hear from you guys.

 

13 Questions with Kevin Lucia

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today I have Kevin Lucia in the interrogations seat.

Kevin Lucia author

Kevin Lucia is the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance Magazine and his column Horror 101 is featured quarterly in Lamplight Magazine. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, most recently with Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Ramsey Campbell. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children.His first short story collection, Things Slip Through was published November 2013, followed by Devourer of Souls in June 2014 and Through A Mirror, Darkly, June 2015. His next book, Mystery Road, is forthcoming from Cemetery Dance Publications.

You can stalk Kevin on his blog.

  1. What drives you to write?

Kevin Lucia Devourer of SoulsI’m a world-watcher. I look at the world around me, and I’m also naturally inquisitive, and I’m always asking questions – why did this happen, why did that person do such and such – and I’m always playing a big “what if” game in my head. What if that old abandoned middle school was haunted? What if a cab driver got lost on his route, and just ended up driving forever?  What about that creepy-looking school bus sitting on the side of the road, early in the morning? So I look at the things around me, I ask questions about them, or I say to myself “What if…” and that naturally leads to writing.

That, and I just like making stuff up. I see everything as a story, so I’m always telling stories in my head. Everybody has a story, and when I see people or things which interest me, I naturally want to make up their story.

  1. What attracted you to writing horror?

Growing up I read a lot of science fiction – Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Star Wars/Star Trek novels – so I began trying to write science fiction. Eventually, though, science fiction (for me, anyway) didn’t probe those  dark corners of our psyche like horror does. In Gary Braunbeck’s writing memoir, To Each Their Darkness, there’s a powerful passage about writing because we want to know why bad things happen. So, as an extended answer to question #1, I was drawn to horror because I see the world, and I wonder why horrible things happen, and I need to write about them. Sometimes I’m able to provide closure for myself. Sometimes, not so much.

When I was a junior in college, my friends and I went skiing on a lake where my best friend’s grandmother had a cabin.  Down the road an abandoned old Victorian farmhouse sat in the middle of a field. We’d go exploring and would always find strange occult stuff there…on the outskirts of a very “normal,” “All American” town. This spoke to me – that there’s plenty of “monsters” hiding in the dark corners of this world, and I no longer felt like writing about aliens from space.

Like so many other horror writers will likely say, it’s Stephen King’s fault. Growing up in the eighties, all I knew of horror were Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies, and I had no interest in slasher films, and I just assumed all horror was the same. Right about the time my friends and I discovered that old farmhouse, I read King for the first time – Desperation. Yes, it was horror, and there was bloodshed. But King’s characters were so fully-drawn and alive, and Desperation also offered this examination of God, and good and evil, and the power of love and sacrifice…it opened my mind to how powerful the horror genre really was.

  1. Who are your favourite horror writers?

Well of course, Stephen King, but also Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, the late Charles L. Grant and T. M. Wright, Norman Prentiss, Norman Partridge, Ramsey Campbell, Ronald Malfi, Rio Youers, Mary Sangiovanni, and though he’s not strictly horror, F. Paul Wilson. And also a ton of others I’m probably forgetting.

  1. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?Kevin Lucia mirror-final-cover

Salem’s Lot and IT by Stephen King; lost boy, lost girl and in the night room by Peter Straub, The Nestling and Raven by Charles L. Grant,  Ghost of Manhattan by T. M. Wright, Thrall by Mary Sangiovanni, Floating Staircase and The Narrows, by Ronald Malfi, and – again, though not strictly horror – Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon, along with his most recent horror novel, The Five.

  1. Ebooks or paperback?

Paperback. Really need that tactile sensation of turning pages.

  1. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

Endorsements by authors I trust – with whom I’ve had a good track record – and a publisher with whom I’ve also had a good experience. Also, I can usually tell in the first page or so if the prose is tight, neat, and quality.

  1. Who is your favourite fictional character?

A tie between Repairman Jack and Roland Deschain, definitely.

  1. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

It really depends on the story. The larger it is, the more plotting it needs. The only novel to date I’ve successfully finished, I plotted, and the novel I’m currently almost finished with, I also plotted. Short stories and novellas, however, tend to unravel and sprawl as I write, although there have been times when I felt the story was meandering, so I needed to stop writing, gather my thoughts, and jot down some notes about where the story needed to go, based on the characters needs and wants.

  1. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

All the time, even when I plot. That’s one of the best parts of writing, the surprising turns a story takes, or the unexpected choices your characters make.

  1. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

Kevin Lucia Mystery Road 2AWhen I was younger and in college, I listened to music – but I discovered a curious tendency to force the story to meet the constraints of the song. Since I started getting serious about writing, absolutely silence to write first drafts, though I can edit or type up     second drafts in the middle of a train wreck.

  1. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

Only enough so it sounds logical. It’s too easy to get so caught up in the research, you forget you’re writing a fictional story, not a non-fiction analysis of something.

  1. Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. Who can keep things under 140 characters, really? (IRONY)

  1. What really pisses you off about writing? 

Not a blessed thing. I’m utterly thankful for every word I write, and I really love every bit of it – thinking about possible stories, writing ideas down in notebooks, tinkering with ideas, writing, and then editing, which is probably my favourite part. That’s when you really get to see the story forming up. I don’t get frustrated when a story peters out; I just save it and move on to something, figuring I’ll come back to that story, eventually, and if I don’t ever come back to it? It wasn’t strong enough to be written in the first place.

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Remember to hit that subscribe button to keep up with all the news, reviews, and interviews. And feel free to leave a comment or three. It’s always nice to hear from you guys.

 

Back in Business

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

It’s been quite a busy week since I got my rights back for Shadows, Requiem in E Sharp, Oasis, and Burning. In that week I’ve managed to design new covers for Shadows, Oasis, and Burning, I’ve fixed a few typos, reformatted all four of them, and loaded them all up on Amazon KDP and Draft2Digital. They are now all once again available to download. Burning even made it to number 5 on the erotic horror section on Amazon.ca on Friday, which was a rather pleasant surprise, even if it didn’t stay up there for very long, it was still pretty fucking fantastic.

Thanks to Draft2Digital I also now have universal buy links for all the books so you can simply click on the links and decide which of the stores you want to buy from. My books are now available from pretty much every online bookstore. I think it’s pretty awesome.

Have a look for yourself by clicking on the below links:

Fury

Requiem in E Sharp

Shadows

Oasis

Burning

Next week I’ll be revealing the cover for my new novelette – The Race!

Remember to hit that subscribe button to keep up with all the news, reviews, and interviews. And feel free to leave a comment or three. It’s always nice to hear from you guys.

13 Questions with Ray Garton

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today I have the incredible Ray Garton in the interrogation seat. He’s a very brave man.

Ray Garton Author Photo

Ray Garton is the author of the classic vampire bestseller Live Girls, as well as Scissors, Sex and Violence in Hollywood, Ravenous, his new Moffet & Keoph investigation Vortex, and dozens of other novels, tie-ins, and story collections.  He has been writing in the horror and suspense genres for more than 30 years and was the recipient of the Grand Master of Horror Award in 2006.  He lives in northern California with his wife Dawn where he is at work on a new novel.

You can stalk Ray on his website: raygartononline.com.

  1. What drives you to write?

I’m afraid if I figured out exactly what that is, it would vanish like a phantom.

  1. What attracted you to writing horror?

Nothing attracted me to writing horror, I just found that when I wrote, that’s what came out.  Even before I was able to write, I would draw stories in panels, and they were almost always dark and even violent.  I found that no matter what I tried to write, it turned out that way.  I could write a love story, but it was a dark love story that didn’t end well.  I could write something funny, but it would be funny in a dark, disturbing way.  It wasn’t that I was attracted to writing horror, I sort of wrote it naturally, and that was the only genre where I fit.  Fortunately for me, I happened to come along when the big horror explosion of the ‘70s and ‘80s was at its height.

  1. Who are your favourite horror writers?

There are so many.  The list of horror writers who have influenced me and continue to teach me how to write horror is a long one, but I’ll give you some names.  Richard Matheson, Thomas Tessier, Shirley Jackson,  Stephen King, Charles Dickens, Richard Laymon, Robert Bloch, T.M. Wright,  Mary Shelley, Peter Straub, Angela Carter, William F. Nolan, Clive Barker, Nicole Cushing, Jason Brock, Michael McDowell, Robert McCammon, Rod Serling, Jonathan Maberry, James A. Moore,  — it’s endless.   Then there are writers who don’t work in the horror genre but have written books that have had the same impact on me as a great horror novel, like Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini, William Goldman’s Marathon Man and Magic.  Those are only people who write horror or have somehow struck me in a horrific way.  That doesn’t include all the other writers who’ve helped and continue to help shape me as a writer and feed my imagination.  And as soon as I submit this, I’ll think of other names I should have mentioned.  I hate questions like this.

  1. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

The novels that made me realize fairly early on that horror should be about people first, and that once you had learned that there really were no limits to what you could do were Stephen King’s Carrie and The Shining, Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, and Richard Laymon’s The Cellar.

  1. Ebooks or paperback?

I can’t smell an ebook.

  1. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

Anything that captures my attention and imagination — title, cover,  jacket copy, something I’ve heard about that author, anything at all.

  1. Who is your favourite fictional character?

At the moment, it’s Donald Trump.  As far as literary characters, I have many, but the first to spring to mind is T.S. Garp in John Irving’s The World According to Garp.  He’s a flawed man who’s extremely curious about everything, talented, so human.  I love the arc of his life in that book.

  1. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

I’m a lousy plotter.  If I outline a whole book, I lose interest in it because it feels like I’ve already written it and I know what happens.  I prefer to start with an idea or a character or both and let the story unfold as I write it.

  1. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

Oh, god, yes.  They’ve changed the entire direction of novels.  Once they’re up and running, I’m pretty much just following them to see where they go.  If they run into a wall, I backtrack and start over from a certain point.

  1. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

Sometimes I have music playing, sometimes I’ll run an old familiar movie that I love as background noise or to set a mood, something I know well enough so that I’m not distracted by it, something that might set a mood in much the same way music does.  I never used to be able to work in silence, but I often do these days.

  1. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

I do as much as the story requires.  Sometimes that’s a lot just to get comfortable with an unfamiliar subject so I can write about like I know what I’m talking about.  Even if I don’t.

  1. Facebook or Twitter?

My preferred personal information gathering center and tracking device is Facebook.

Vortex Cover

  1. What really pisses you off about writing? 

Don’t get me started.  You’re trying to get me started, aren’t you?

Something that pisses me off about writing are the wrong-headed ideas about writers and writing held by so many non-writers.  It’s not work, for example.  It’s not a craft.  I’ve met plenty of people with that attitude.  People who know me well enough to know better still ask, after being apart for some time, “Are you still writing?”  I’ve been writing full time for over thirty years and people still ask me that question.  It’s asked in the same way one might ask, “Are you still collecting stamps?”  Or, “Do you still golf?”  They’re not asking about a profession, because nobody asks, “Are you still a veterinarian?”  Or, “Do you still build buildings?”  Writing is that little thing you do that’s kind of odd.

Sometimes it’s not people outside the writing business who hold wrong-headed ideas about writers.  For example, here’s a tip: Never ask a professional writer to write for free (with the exception, of course, of charitable anthologies).  Just don’t.  What makes the writer a professional is the fact that he or she gets paid for his or her work.  The right word for this job is “amateur,” someone who is not a professional.  Someone who has exchanged writing for money.  It’s also someone who may not be very good at writing, and definitely someone nobody’s ever heard of.  Because you get what you pay for.

Another one, but this one is kind of weird.  I’m shy.  I always have been.  This surprises a lot of people because once I’m comfortable with you, it goes away and is usually quickly forgotten.  But in new situations around people I don’t know, I’m terribly shy.  Drinking used to be a quick and reliable remedy, but I don’t do that anymore and haven’t for a long time.  There was a time in my life when it was seen as nothing more than what it was: shyness.  But since I became a published writer, it suddenly became a stuck-up attitude, a sense of superiority.  It’s the same thing it has always been, it’s still exhibited in the same way, but because I’m a novelist, for some people it becomes something completely different and suddenly I’m an egotistical prick.  He’s too good for us is the conclusion often reached.  Once I discovered this, I was horrified.

I’ve worked hard on overcoming my shyness and I manage to hide it better than I used to (although I still maintain that it’s much easier after a few cocktails), but it’s still there.  I find it very difficult to approach people I don’t know and I’m often tongue-tied in social situations with strangers, but it’s better than it used to be.  It has NOTHING to do with what I do and it doesn’t mean I think I’m better than everyone else because I’m a novelist, which is so opposite who I am that it’s funny.  I’ve met writers and people of any profession, all professions, who think they’re better than others and I don’t like them.  If I had my way, I’d never talk about my work except for professional reasons, but what am I going to say when someone asks what I do for a living?  “I prefer not to disclose that information.”  People would either think I was a government spook or a lunatic  I know, I know—First World problems, but annoying nonetheless.

You can’t possibly have enough space for me to go on.  I will complain endlessly about minutiae if allowed.  I’m like a gentile Larry David but without the genius.  If we were having this conversation in person, my wife would be standing behind me waving her arms at you and frantically shaking her head.

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Vortex is on my TBR pile. Have you read any of Ray’s books? Oh! And I would suggest stalking him on Facebook and Twitter. He is probably one of the most amusing authors on social media, especially if you have a twisted sense of humour like me.

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Shadows: New Book Trailer and Author Reading

Hello My Freaky Darlings,

I had some fun this week making a new book trailer for Shadows as well as filming me reading the first scene from the book for you.

I made the first book trailer for Shadows way back in 2009, when Shadows was released for the very first time. Since it’s been re-released I thought it was time for a new one.

Here’s the old one:

And here I am doing a quick reading of it:

So … what do you think?

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