Thursday, November 29, 2012


(Our house, in the middle of our street)
Blake Crouch is a much regarded name in the self-publishing game. He's tied closely to self-pub enthusiast J.A. Konrath. I've read many of Konrath's books (Disturb, The List, Origin and Whiskey Sour). But one of the first ebooks I read was a slim little number called Serial. It was only 8,000 words.

Seeing as how these guys go hand-in-hand and their writing styles are quite similar  I felt it was time to give Blake a try. So I decided on Eerie  a short novel of suspense and horror. This thriller boasted that it was in the same vein as The Shinning or The Sixth Sense. With a blurb like that, I had to see if it was all just hype or, in fact, the real deal.

Well, I've read the whole thing.

And I loved it.

What a change of pace.

The story, for the first few chapters, revolves around Grant Moreton, a Seattle detective, who is working a missing persons case. The trail leads him to a house which currently holds a person from his past. The two characters are confined to the house, unable to escape. Every time they try, they are blasted with extreme headaches and debilitating sickness, bordering on the brink of death. Not only are they trapped, but some fiendish thing is holding them there, a monster under the bed, so to speak.

This ebook had me clicking NEXT PAGE like there was no tomorrow.

It's no wonder that this book was so well balanced. It was written by two people. Blake and Jordan are brothers who decided to collaborate on this original idea. We get a bit of that insight with a question and answer segment at the end of the book. Blake and Jordan tell us that they wrote this book over a program called Google Docs, switching every time the other would take over. Technology has come a long way and it looks like more and more collaborations are being used in Google Docs.

This is Jordan's first novel but as for Blake Crouch, he holds 35 Kindle titles to his name.

Many of his ideas have been optioned for films.

Pretty prolific if you ask me.

Eerie is only $3.99 on Kindle.

Now that I'm more well acquainted with his work, I may give his novel Famous a try.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


(Take me away, I don't mind, just promise
 me we'll be back in time.)
My mind is officially blown. Yes, its true, my fandom for Stephen King has waned in the past, been on the ropes even, but now it has risen stronger from the once supposed dead ashes. This book has now become one of my top four favorite King books. The others being Insomnia, Desperation and From a Buick 8.

So what is it about this book that redeemed my love for King?

I would argue that it is a combination of things. It's believable, deep and suspenseful. A good recipe of a story that leaves you wanting more but satisfied by its drive and momentum.

Quite a while back, in a previous blog post, my wife and I were discussing the idea of time travel; what works and what doesn't. Can there be time viewing? Can you change the past? Are you able to bring something back? Will this cause a rip in the fabric and create a time paradox? These are the routine things we grapple with on every time travel tale.

But what if something new were added to the mix? You get something more unpredictable.

From what I understand, more time travel stories are throwing out the old rules and starting fresh. This is a complete rewrite to what we've already puzzled over. A step in a new direction and I welcome that.

Though I haven't seen films like Looper or Primer, I am told that they turn the genre on its head, offering new and exciting possibilities.

Change the rules: simple as that.

In King's book, an English teacher(who else?) is coming to grips from a fresh split from his wife who is an alcoholic. As he is coping he confides in his friend, Al Templeton, who owns the local diner not too far away. Al is increasingly looking older as the days pass. Al finally lets the cat out of the bag. He has found a wormhole that leads to the year 1958. The usual, believable  skepticism ensues until our hero, Jake Epping, finally decides to take the plunge.

It's obvious that king has done a lot of research for this book. Everything from the racial divide to how much a man could live on in those days is covered. It feels like you are transported to that era. Reading IS time travel, any way you slice it.

Al eventually convinces Jake to change the course of history by saying he should go back and stop the assassination of JFK. A noble cause but not without its strife's.

Turns out that the past itself is its own character in this novel. It is a stubborn, angry, bullying think which does not want to be changed. Sometimes it is referred to as a "machine with jagged teeth." Frequently it throws unfortunate coincidences in front of our hero. A tree blocking the road, a debilitating sickness, a car that threw a rod or a traffic accident, just to name a few. It's reach knows no bounds. This is a really compelling element to consequential time travel.

The characters are likable, the plot is fluid and its considerably shorter than Under The Dome. King held my attention to the very end. The novel is one I intend to re-read whenever I wish to travel back through time and catch up with Jake. And what's great is, I can go there again and again without fearing the consequences.

P.s. I liked the fact that his son, Joe Hill, helped him out with this one.

5/5 stars.


Friday, October 26, 2012

World War Z

To be honest, I wouldn't call myself a lover of zombie fiction. But I'm not a hater either. I've actually wanted to write my own zombie book one day but it would always be complicated by, no pun intended, a dead end.

For me I'm not attracted to the gore or disgust factor. When I read something, I want it to engage me. I want my curiosity to go into overload. I've always been drawn to a certain genre which I think zombies fall under: Survival Horror.

From the Resident Evil Series by S.D. Perry, I found that zombies became a backdrop, more of an underlying danger. The series focuses mainly on shooter, puzzle solving and object collecting. Every once and a while you get hit with hordes of flesh-eaters busting through a window or completely coming out of nowhere. The focus was mainly being trapped in a building with the threat of zombies hanging over the characters heads.

Those books were good for a while. Not groundbreaking but they reminded me of the games.

Then I stumbled across this one called The Zombie Survival Handbook by Max Brooks. I got a kick out of it. I thought it was supposed to be funny. I combed through a hundred or so pages and laughed occasionally but what really surprised me was how serious this author had taken it. The guide was reading like an actual survival guide, each piece of instruction told with the utmost meticulous care. It kind of creeped me out that it felt so heavily researched, almost as if I were living in an era where the undead once roamed and survival tactics were common place. In the end, I gave the book to a friend, but the tips were tightly tucked away in the corner of my mind.

Then a couple days ago, I decided to rent a copy of World War Z, expecting the same old stuff. What I got was an eye-opener. As the book's subtitle says, the story is meant to be "an oral history of the zombie war" and boy, does it deliver. I can't believe its taken six years to finally pick up this one book.

This book is made popular by the fact that it accomplishes a thorough narrative while still being compelling. In it, a man responsible for writing the United Nations Post War Commission is dismayed by the fact that the government left out a lot of the personal stories. They just wanted to collect the facts. So, in an effort to tell the human side of the zombie war, the man compiles this document of one-on-one personal stories, interviews and narratives. They vary and are rich in detail as well as personal thoughts and struggles.

The war has been over for about a decade but the scars still run deep. Through these characters we found out how life really was in those times. The origin of the infection is documented as well as the social, government, military, economic, and environmental effect of the growing plague.

New weapons and armor had to be invented, governments were scrambling to contain the threat, people had to use their wits to outmaneuver the "zacks" - i.e. what they call the zombies.

This is such a unique take on the genre, focusing on the survivors and have them tell it in their own words. It gives the words weight and paints a lucid picture.

It was more lucid for me because I listened to the six hour audio-book version, which cast people like Mark Hamill, John Turturro, Henry Rollins, Carl and Rob Riener and Alan Alda as some of the survivors.

A film is in the works, naturally, but I'm not going to see it. Film will never compare to that magic that comes between you, your imagination and a really good book.

5/5 stars

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whatever Happened to Gooflumps?

(This book is deep.)
The year is 1995. I was still in grade school and slowly coming to the end of the Goosebumps series. While only two or three of these books still hold a soft spot for me I always wondered, whatever happened to Gooflumps?

Did you hear about this?

I'd always get my Goosebumps book off of this one endcap in the book and magazine section of Target. But one day I saw two books included on the six shelves of R.L. Stine's hit series. These were called Gooflumps and they were a parody of two original books (Say Cheese and Die, Stay Out of The Basement) which were called Say Cheese and Barf and Stay Out of The Bathroom.

The details are still a bit shady in my mind but from what I remember, they were pretty funny. True, gross at times but when a kid reads something gross that's just because he has nothing better to do. There were only two in the series and it even said it on the cover: BUY 2- THAT'S IT.

But whatever happened to the author?

I did a little digging and found that the pen name which these books were written under (R. U. Slime) was just a clever cover for a man named Robert Hughes.

Apparently I can't find him doing anything after this short lived series.

I wonder where he went?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Under The Dome

(Third time's a charm.)
I gotta admit...I liked it.

Of the few reviews that I have read of this book, I have to say, I don't think they are altogether fair.

First, this is a gargantuan book which was previously started several times. The last time Stephen King got 400+ pages in and lost the manuscript.

I have to say that for his third outing, I think he nailed it.

Second, this book was a bit of a risk for me. I like reading Stephen King's stuff as much as the next guy. But, alas, I have been disappointed in the past.

The last long book of his that I gave a try had been Duma Key, a story of a man coming to grips with the loss of his arm by retiring to Florida  He learns to paint with his remaining arm but supernatural elements have a tendency to stick to his artwork. If there's one thing I learned from that book its that it had to be 1,000 pages because the details really drive the story. Because that book thrilled me, I'm more open now to reader some his longer works. But for now, let's focus on Under The Dome.

It all takes place in a small town called Chester's Mill. A former Iraq vet turned fry cook, Dale "Barbie" Barbara, is making his way out of town because he doesn't want no trouble. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a dome quietly but forcefully encapsulates the town.

Before the dome, it was a very corrupt town. After the dome, it escalates. A selectman named Big Jim Rennie, previously a used car salesman  ran some shady deals and since the dome cut off the town he feels more empowered than before. A well-crafted villain who believes he's doing right by the town every step of the way. Those are the villains that scare me the most.

By trapping these characters in this dome, not only do you feel their struggle, but you can also see how bureaucracy suddenly transforms into neglect and a hidden dictatorship.  The dome also wreaks havoc on the environment on the inside, trapping all manner of gas and heat, making it very difficult on the inhabitants.

This novel perfectly blends Sci-fi with survival and touches of horror. Although the dome itself is otherworldly, there are still some basic rules that come with it.

1. Nothing can break the thick glass-like structure.
2. The dome disrupts some electrical devices.
3. You get a static shock when you touch the dome.
4. Even though the structure is rock solid, air can still permeate through.

There are also political overtones in what happens when the wrong people take over, masking their intentions as being for the good of the people.

But the whole driving force for me reading is the need to find out what would happen next. It kept me guessing until the very end.

One of the many things people say is that this was too long and the characters were thin. I couldn't disagree more. Each character was well-crafted, had a history. This is a common thing with king. It can either help him or harm him. Sometimes the details of just one character can go on ad nauseam. But the back story on each character was well-written to the point as if I had met them before.

Maybe its because I got a bit of a bias when sitting down with this book because I hail from a small town. But the way the town operates is a little too close to home. I wanted to escape just as much as the characters in the book.

The book was also very unpredictable. Every time I thought I got a handle on things, King would surprise me with something else.

Although I'm not ready to tackle big books like It or The Stand, I may in the future now that I know that they are rich in details and very unique.

The book is part Science Fiction/ Dystopian novel.

This book was so intriguing, it made me launch right into his next book...11/22/63.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Double Shot Venti Latte'

If you're reading this, its because I've reached a focal point in my life. I haven't written any stories in a while. It angers and frustrates me sometimes. Years ago, I kept hearing of a place called The Memory Palace. I guess there's a book on this subject: the premise of this non-fiction book is how you can create your own memory palace. It can be whatever you want it to be, because its entirely created by you.

When I get frustrated, I'd often retreat to quiet places. I'd ditch myself in the library when times were tough at home. If I felt like getting farther away, I'd frequent my local Borders Bookstore. A few times I visited a coffee shop or two.

Yesterday was one of those days when all the rigamroe, all the complicated garbled mess of a mind came to a head.

I needed a retreat.

So, while at the library, I sat and read. Then I began to imagine a memory palace kind of idea. Not a palace, per say. More like a one man coffee shop. One in where I am the owner, founder, barista and patron all in one.

I imagined unlocking the door to this place on a cold september night. Then I turned on the lights, hung up my coat, turned on the machines and read the paper as the blenders swished the concotion which would later become my drink. Since I was frustrated, I relaxed. First on the outside, then on the inside.

My life has taken a few turns.

Some have been troubled times but all have been interesting and most have been real eye-opening moments. These are the moments I should be focusing on. Not all the bad stuff. And yet, we can't help it. We consume it, it consumes us. These are just thoughts, by the way.

While attending this fictional coffee shop, let's call it Rob's Brew, I began to stir my Double Venti Latte' as I picked a seat close to the wide windows displaying an empty parking lot.

A double, because I've had a shot or two in my life.

A Venti, because boy did I need to vent.

While I'm not necessarily on the verge of lamenting I am still hopeful about the future.

So I sit, sip, and burrow myself deeper into the cushion chair with the high back. It's my favorite chair. There are no other customers. There's no music playing. It's just quiet. Serene.

Yesterday, I found out that someone tried to rip me off. Thankfully the bank caught it in time but I was more than frazzled. My daily commute to work is twenty minutes and change. I was running on empty to work and empty from work. All because my card was declined. I even had to cut it up.

This is the third time that this has happened in my life. I just couldn't take it. I've also been progressing with work and trying to find ways of making multiple forms of income.

Why? you might ask.

Well, I'm going to be a father.

My wife is 9 weeks pregnant and that has propelled me into a state of compassionate fatherhood. I've been taking care of my wife non-stop and I don't mind. But I'm also thinking about our kid wriggling around inside of her. When you're faced with fatherhood, you have this overwhelming sense to provide, provide, provide.

I take another sip of what is now an iced hazelnut coffee. Two sugars, extra cream. Just the way I like it.

My head has been cramed with technical information, story ideas, finances, savings, and now preparing for the future. As an author, all I can do is write. As a husband, I hunt for more ways to provide. Working on a coupled entropenuer ideas. As a man, I'm compelled to exprese myself, talk to you guys on this here blog.

Why? Becuase I want to give you daily peeks into my head.

In the meantime, I slurp the rest of the coffee and pull up a chair. Maybe can join me...and boy...could I tell you some stories.

Relax, stay calm, don't worry, be happy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wearing Donnie Torr eBook Giveaway

Ladies and gentlemen, now comes the part where I do something for you, the readers of this here blog.

This was the second book I've written. Since the last two giveaways worked so well, I decided to do one for this thriller as well. So far I've gained an extra 265 new readers and hope to gain even more with the release of a new Kindle Single in the coming weeks.

"Wearing Donnie Torr" will be free on Kindle from:


Here is the back cover synopsis of the book:

Deep in the Wisconsin woods, a killer waited patiently. On a cold night in 1999, the notorious Donnie Torr went down in a hail of gunfire. The threat to the town was supposedly eliminated. Now, in 2002, local writer James Dorrell has just purchased a leather jacket at the thrift store. He knows its getting colder, bleaker as the weather grows gray. But what he doesn't know is that the killer lived on, connected to the very vessel of the jacket that James now owns. With the leather fusing to his skin, his thoughts being perpetrated with malicious fantasies, and his sudden habit of sleep walking, James must discover how the killer accomplished such a curse and why he chose James to do his bidding. Better yet, James will have to figure out an ending for this horrifying tale…that might be his own.

Click Here to buy it now: Wearing Donnie Torr on Amazon

And don't forget to write a review ;)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Old Way of Doing Things

Imagine a man. This man is a writer. This man writes two to three books. Man, naturally, wants to be published so he combs through lists and looks up every literary agent and publisher he can find. The most reputable ones he starts with first.

He sends queries to them and gets the following form comments:

"Not for me" or "Too long, trim it down" or "Too short, add more" or "I can't sell this" or "Great book, but I have to pass."

Now, at this point, the man writer is kinda crushed. He worked hard, plugged in all the things they told them to and sent them back out. No one follows up.

So time goes by and he wants to try his second book and looks up the most reputable agents. What is he supposed to say?

"Hey, remember me, that guy whose book you din't like? Guess what? That's me! I have a brand new one! This one is sure to get you flipping pages, even though you said no the first time."

To me it seems like the old way of doing things boils it down to this whole thing: You become a reluctant spammer of your own books.

Exposure is key.

Let the readers decide.

Not the industry.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Worth A Second Look eBook Giveaway

Ladies and gentlemen, now comes the part where I do something for you, the readers of this here blog.

I've been working on this manuscript for a while and just recently I was able to release it to the Kindle. Since this may be your first time visiting this blog I decided to surprise you and everyone else who owns a kindle with a special treat.

The new book titled "Worth A Second Look" will be free on Kindle from:

-AUGUST 25TH through AUGUST 29TH-

Here is the back cover synopsis of the book:

In 2009, people were introduced to stories of hit men, specters, crooks, playful spirits and empowered heroes. Now, a new batch of stories have come alive.

Come to a place where mice gain the ability to speak, where super humans work middle class jobs, where a mythical man grants chances to feeble victims and where science has created murder rooms or genetically mutated monsters. Discover worm holes, the supernatural and a bit of lunacy. Encounter the unexpected.

You heard it here first, folks.

Five whole days of the book absolutely free!!

Get your Kindle and boot that sucker up because 20 new short stories from yours truly are just dying to get on that thing!

Click here to get your ebook: Worth A Second Look on Amazon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Making the case for Self-publishing

Ever since Sue Grafton came out on her opinion about self-publishing, there has been a brush-fire of outcry from the ones who have decided to go the Kindle route.

Now, bear in mind, she's an author and author's, yes, can have their opinions. And she's written some great books. But I believe that someone has to make the case for self-publishing. So let's talk about it, seriously for a change.

What is Self-Publishing?

Wikipedia calls Self-publishing the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. The author is responsible and in control of entire process including design (cover/interior), formats, price, distribution, marketing & PR.

Now, understand, this is a big undertaking. One that involves a lot of thought and research and one that should not be taken lightly. But if you do decide to go this route, here are some things to consider.

1. It used to be that in order to self publish you either had to go Print-on-demand or find what they call a vanity publisher.

2. Print-on-demand is way more productive and the costs are low. Vanity publishers, not so much.

3. The latest edition of ereaders and reincarnations of ebooks has changed the way we receive books.

Stephen King in 2000, published a novella called Riding The Bullet on the internet. It became recognized as the world's first mass-market ebook. Possibly because of the success of RTB, he went on to publish another novella via the web in installments. That story was called The Plant. His ebook experiment generated thousands of new readers of his work. "We have the chance to become Big Publishing's worst nightmare," he said in one article by The New York Times.

But the self- publishing trend did not start with him. If you really went back into the dusty pages of history, you'd find one author who took a huge risk to make a big point of his work.

That author is none other than Charles Dickens.

This was in 1843, when his publishers, Chapman and Hall were disappointed with his lack of sales. They rejected a well-known story called A Christmas Carol. Ever heard of it? Dickens, never one to be told no, decided to produce the book himself at his own expense. And while he did not fare well with the profits, it gave him exposure, garnered some reviews and all of a sudden Chapman and hall started to take notice. The first print run sold 6,000 copies. The book hasn't been out of print since.

So does this mean Self-publishing is widely accepted?

Sadly, no. Now, understand, there are hundreds of people who have found success with publishing their works independently. Some have decided to take that success and sign with a traditional publishing. Some, after making the industry switch, decided to go back to self publishing because they enjoyed more freedoms.

Why did you Self-Publish?

I’ve been doing research on self-publishing since late 2005. I’ve seen the benefits of establishing an internet presence early so that people get a feel for you. But I’ve also researched the traditional side of the argument. Rather than waiting years after constant useless rejection slips, I chose to publish my work to gain a readership. Working at rejection, peddling my wares as a complete stranger to complete strangers makes no sense to me. And I say this because I’ve tried it. I’ve sent some stuff to magazines and contests with no reply. Literary Agents? I’ve queried thirty-one of them from New York. I’ve gotten a few bites of interest, requesting more pages but that’s where the connections ended.

However, once I did as much reading as possible on the subject, learned the ropes and learned how to go about this independently, I decided to try it out. And it works. I’m gaining readers, getting feedback. It’s much more involved. As I’ve gotten to know the writing community and interviewed several authors, they all seem to say the same thing. Self-publishing offers more benefits than traditional publishing. And most publishers are actually scouting some of these books published directly to the kindle.

I’m not looking for fame and fortune. I just wanna tell stories in this time period and deliver them to an audience now. Gray hairs have been popping up all over my head. I grew tired of waiting. For me, stories need to be unleashed in order to unclutter my mind.

What does being "successful" mean to you?

Self-publishing taught me a lot of things and I became engulfed in the fascination of cover design, formatting, back cover description and audio narration. It may be a lot of hard work, but I love doing every minute of it. It gives more of a legitimacy to the work. Author/Book Maker all in one.

Success to me means instant gratification. Writing, editing, designing, publishing. I love being part of a community that gives feedback and makes the whole experience of being a writer more interactive than it previously had been in the past.

The way I see it, I'm just a storyteller. I'm not looking for fame and fortune. I just want to have comfort in knowing I can tell a good story, have full control over the content and be able to hear someone say, "Hey, buddy, y'know that story you wrote? It was different. It really made me think. What else you got in that bag of yours?"

Making a living at it?

That will come in time.

Right now I'm just happy and content with writing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

An Open Letter To Bill Murray

Dear Bill Murray,

I've been a fan of yours for years. Your deadpan delivery, wise guy attitude and the sense of confidence instilled in me the traits that I still use today. I learned a lot from you and your movies. I'd have to say that the movie I always came back to was, or course, Ghostbusters. It was something new, exciting and original. Everything worked in that movie; the score, the story, the costumes. It was one of the only tapes in our movie library that we watched constantly.

Basically, I can quote the entire movie by heart, as I'm sure some of your other fans have boasted, too. Ghostbusters 2 was even better. It still held the same promise of the original while bringing back all of the characters. It taught me that so long as a sequel did the same stuff as the original, it would prevail. You may have said that you didn't like the overall outcome of the movie, but you can't deny that you had fun making it as all of us did watching it. Your rifs and one liners in that movie are the stuff of comedy gold.

I've watched your other movies, as well. Stripes taught me how to be tough yet silly. Scrooged taught me how to be a little more compassionate around the holidays. Groundhog Day taught me to make the most of each day, no matter how bad it got. Larger Than Life taught me to take the unexpected journey. The Man Who Knew Too Little taught me that all the world's a stage. I even love the cameos. Even if your screen time is under five minutes, it means the world to me.

So, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, this letter is turning into something of a plea. I've been following the news of your involvement of the newest project, Ghostbusters 3. I know you've been hesitant about joining because you wanted the script to be perfect. To be honest, I was a bit surprised myself when they announced the first writers who would take a crack at the script.

The writers from The Office??? How did they work that one out? Still, I remained hopeful, ready to read the latest news of the film's progression. I was glad to hear that Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis were taking a couple passes at the script as well. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. Then, I read this article, Bill Murray Drops Out, and my heart just sank.

Now, understand, I'm not implying that you owe the fans anything. You don't. But I am a bit nostalgic for a new ghost busters where all of the primary characters are involved.


Because you are the key ingredient.

And because I know it's possible. And here are some examples.

Along the way, everybody has been dropping hints that a sequel would get made. But you have been the biggest voice in this matter.

Imagine my surprise and glee when I saw Zombieland and you popped up. Not only did you have a cameo but to me it was the best ten minutes of the entire movie.

Then, the grand finale, a Ghostbusters video game. That was the only game I bought for Xbox. All other games were meaningless to me. I was so impressed by the depth and story of the game, that all of a sudden it seemed possible for Ghostbusters 3 to be a smash hit.

Ghostbusters 3 became the dog whistle in which I had to respond. The, forgive the pun, spirit of ghostbusters has evolved and still thriving today. It has become ingrained in Pop Culture and a go-to storage locker of iconic lines to describe daily life.

Many people have created hundreds, if not thousands of Ghostbuster fan films.

It has been something we all grew up with, Bill Murray.

It's also become something everyone was hoping for. And to have Ghostbusters without Dr. Peter Venkman? It just wouldn't be the same.

I think the reason why I feel so tied to this character is because of what happened to me in late 2010. While working for this one company, I participated in a costume contest. I had only been working at the company for six months and I thought it would be awesome to dress up as Dr. Peter Venkman. I had worked tirelessly on that costume. That same day I was laid off while wearing the costume. It was the most surreal experience of my life.

But that didn't diminish my hope for another Ghostbusters movie. If anything, it propelled it further.

Even the low-budget revisits to the same story kept me going. Like in Be Kind Rewind.

So, you see, Bill Murray, I may not know you personally, but I have walked in your shoes. We're both Chicago boys who have worn the suit and kept on going. I've been diligently waiting for you to tackle this role again. All I ask is that if you don't like the way the character is written, write him yourself. At the very least, please make a cameo in the newest movie. Even if it is only five or ten minutes, you'd be doing so much for all the die hard fans of this franchise.

I implore you to reconsider and give this movie another chance.

Meanwhile, I'll still keep reading the updates and hope that Ghostbusters 3 will become the best movie to overshadow all the blockbusters before it.

If you wish to respond to this letter, please email me at:

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


A Fellow Ghostbuster

Friday, August 3, 2012

Open Letters Intro

(Dear readers, over the course of the past couple months, I've been thinking of adding a new segment to my blog. At the beginning of the year I wanted to send a letter to each celebrity I admire, telling them my thoughts and a couple reasons what they taught me about life. In light of the fact that not many of them have an address listed or even a public email, I've decided to share my letters with all of you as well as the person they are intended for. This will be an Open Letters section which will pop up from time to time. One of them, the first one, is to a comedic actor I admire greatly who I must be honest with. That person is non other than Bill Murray.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Creating Your Own Digital World

Y'know, I've been writing stories for a long time. But during all that time in creating larger than life characters, I never really focused on marketing them.

When I did decided that they needed to be displayed by some kind of media, I chose podcasting with my eye firmly on book trailers for the future.

Now, book trailers, I've found, can be done a number of ways.

Kelly Corrigan, writer of The Middle Place, did a six-minute public reading and put it up on youtube. It gave you a preview of the book and it got over 150,000 views.

Some have resorted to inter-cutting music with titles but with no voiceover. I've seen this done numerous times. I think Amanda Hocking has done this a couple of times.

But Scott Sigler, a regular on podiobooks, really opened it up when it came to hiring actors to act out a movie trailer version of the book.

While I would love to do the same thing I have a few things holding me back. No budget, no actors and no time.

So I began thinking, "Man, if I could only design everything like that game The Sims 3, it would be prefect."

I had worked with the game a couple of times, building sets and making short films of my family for my own amusement. I also got a hold of the PC game The Movies and toyed around with that.

Then a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon Moviestorm. It looks to me like they use the same physics engine like the last two games only this one is specifically for people who want to make short films or trailers.

So all of a sudden, it seems possible that in the very near future, I'll be creating Book Trailers made from digital characters. I used to love building sets, seeing all the pieces come together. I just hope they look as good as I imagined them.

The video above is the technical stuff.

Just look what happens when all the ingredients come together as someone recreates Jekyll and Hyde using this software.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Formatting Blues

Hey stranger. Come on in and sit down a spell. I got some things to tell you. I won't take much of your time. I imagine you're picturing a comforting man talking to you in a night club right about now. Maybe that man's voice is similar to Morgan Freeman's. But that's not important right now. What is important is that I have your attention.

You know as well as I do that whether you are an aspiring writer or a self-publisher there is one thing we all have to come to grips with at some point in our career; formatting.

It isn't pleasant and hardly anyone wants to spend time to get it right. I'm guilty of that myself. But, y'see, old Andy Dufrense never...


Sorry, I'll get back to this formatting business.

Y'see the thing is we rarely picture the part of formatting as one of our chief concerns. We are interested in writing. Because that's what we are: writers.

We tumble and toil with words all day. But in the end, we naively think the story itself will hold up the structure. Well, I'm here to tell you that just isn't true. Good formatting gives a perfect presentation to your story. It compliments it, you see.

Ordinarily I've experimented with file types such as Mobi., EPub or even PDF. But still I'd find glitches in the system.

One of the biggest regrets was releasing Wearing Donnie Torr as a Mobi file and not giving it a final proper scan through. People have commented that there are terrible formatting issues with it. Mostly that the font kept changing size. That gave me a bit of the blues.

I've read all the how to books on formatting until I was blue in the face. I was just about to make the leap to HTML coding.

Then I began to wonder if maybe I was going about this the wrong way. I've read hundreds of pages on what you SHOULD DO while formatting but it was never made quite that clear. I'm a visual person. So I sat down and started looking up formatting videos.

Wouldn't you know it? In just five minutes I found what I was looking for.

A video by C. J. Lyons on how to format your document so it will look more presentable on the amazon Kindle. I tinkered with one of my word documents and found out that it worked. The conversion to kindle was perfect.

This video was a much needed relief.

Now as soon as I find that original word document of Wearing Donnie Torr I'll make the changes and re-upload it to kindle and breathe a little easier.

Since this benefited me greatly, I'm considering checking out C. J. Lyons books. I suggest you do the same. I consider this video the one-stop shop for all my formatting woes.

In the meantime, here is the video for your viewing pleasure. Hope it helps you solve a case of formatting blues....

Get busy living or get busy dying...whoops...there I go again.


Saturday, July 7, 2012


I feel like I don't talk about bookstores enough. You guys know that I frequent them. I'm always willing to pick up books from Barnes and Noble, Goodwill or alleyway shops. I was heartbroken when Borders went packing.

But there is one bookstore that I love and that you should check out too. They're called Afterwords and they sell new and used books. I visited there a couple of times, mainly because my friend works there and he is very good about showing me around and reccomending some good titles. It's funny but, every time I dropped in, I'd have this sudden urge to pick up some of the titans; Hemingway, Harlan Ellison, H.G. Wells.

Its very cool and quiet and has a basement with wall to wall books.

Ray Bradbury always said that libraries helped raise him to his literary heights. For me, its bookstores.

23 East Illinois Street, Chicago, IL
(312) 464-1110

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Botanica Blues

Botanica Blues, penned by Tristan J. Tarwater, is a bleak yet poetic journey of Luis Quintana. Torn between his job and his family, this private eye is still haunted by his brush with a ritualistic mass murderer. For just 24 pages, this debut short story sure captured my attention. I had never read this author before and I wanted to start with this story. Tristan has a very clear voice with the main character. You feel as if you are sliding into a Lovecraft-type of madness as his story unfolds. The ending is equally shocking but very powerful. Now that I've had a glimpse of her writing style, I may pick up some of her other books. But I highly recommend this story to get you started.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Long and Short of it

For 13 years I've been slowly but surely shaping my writing. Along the way I thought to read how the experts have done it. I gorged on How-to writing books and built myself a nice collection of them. I spent time analyzing the construction of a short story and a novel. Within each book there was a general consensus about how long it takes from the process of the first draft to actually being published. So here's what I've gathered:

Average time it takes to write a book:

3 months to 10 years - Thomas Harris takes his books ten years at a time. J.A. Konrath has said on his blog that he can complete a book in a month. Aprilynne Pike finished her first book during her pregnancy. Charles Bukowski finished a book within a month. These are the rare exceptions to this rule.

Average time to edit a book -

2 months to 2 years

Average time to hear a response from a publisher:

3 weeks to 9 months

Average time it takes to release your book:

2 months to 1 year

That's the long and short of it. But in my opinion, write a good book of what you know, file it away for two weeks to a month, edit it, polish it, then send it out. There should be no good reason why it takes you 10 years to write a book.

Mr. Dead Eyes took me 6 years to write.

Wearing Donnie Torr took me 2 years.

For What It's Worth took me a little over 9 months to write.

So as the years go on, I've trimmed down the amount of time it takes to shape a story. Writing doesn't mean you have to obsess on every single detail and fervently consider every single word. Being meticulous like that will just stall you. Just heed Hemingway's advice: All you have to do is write one true sentence.

Then another.

Then another...