Back to work

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There are many clouds over my head as I write this. I feel their showers, their thunder, and I’m waiting for their lightning strikes.

I’m writing from my desk as I construct a new project from my wife’s dream. I can’t give the details, but it intrigues me, and while she’s given me permission to construct something from it, I will stray into something darker than I’ve done before.

The factors of the dream are not what will make it terrifying. It’s the elements I intend to add.

This is where I dig into what I’ve been doing since my last post.

Over the last few weeks, I finished the exercises in Writing In The Dark Workbook. This book has changed how I create without completely diving into the exercises.

I have thought about sharing my response to the exercises, but I’ve created too many beginnings for stories, and I want to keep them to myself.

I will say this about the two books, yes, there are two. The first is Writing In The Dark, based on Tim’s articles. The second is Writing In The Dark: The Workbook, and you will do some work.

This book makes you look at your writing in a new way. It did with me, at least. I feel I’ve found a way to create an outline with a horror novel.

I’ve never found a way that actually works for me. I’ve always written horror as a pantser. It’s when I write thrillers that I’m able to create an outline. After finishing the workbook I feel more confident in my writing, which I’ve struggled with for a long time.

Moving forward, I will revisit this workbook with every project.

I have to get to the editing on my thriller novel this week. I will be submitting that to agents in the next couple of months. I still have a novella out on submission. It has been over a year, but I’m holding out for it. I love the story. It would be great for it to be picked up.

I will see you next time.

F This and Getting It Right

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I’m trying to get my head right.

These last three months have challenged me in ways I never thought possible.

I’m reevaluating where my energy goes. I’d put a lot of it into social media, at least in TikTok and I’m feeling like that’s been part of my problem. I took the app off of my phone and will only look at it on my desktop or laptop.

I started working on Tim Waggoner’s new Writing in the Dark Workbook yesterday. I’m feeling better about my writing while making my way through the exercises, which is more than I’ve been able to say in months. The book is fantastic and while this isn’t a review for it, I think it’s as good if not better than the original book.

I believe a perfect storm happened over the last three months and staring at TikTok as much as I have screwed with my head. I used it to dull my senses about everything else that happened.

This is something I used to do with alcohol but having given up alcohol I needed to find something else to dull me. Social media is a good drug, but its after-effects are a bitch.

I need a middle ground on all of this and I’m having trouble finding it. I know my post the other day probably freaked a few people out. It’s been a hard three months.

I’ll be offline for everything this next week as I travel to Disneyland to celebrate my son’s graduation from high school. I intend to get back to writing as my head feels clearer than it has in months. I’m not sure what caused it, but I’m not sure I’ll be using TikTok anymore.

Emotions, endings, and decisions.

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I haven’t written a word on here in a few weeks. Today felt like time to say something.

I’m dealing with some severe mental issues and its taken me out of my head. I write because its the only thing I truly enjoy anymore, but even that has been difficult.

I have a novel out with my editor, a novella out for consideration with a publisher, two other novellas sitting on my hard drive but after the last three months I’m not sure I want to do this anymore.

Once the novel is done with my editor I’ll go through it and submit it to agents. I don’t know what else to do with it. If that doesn’t pan out I’ll self publish it. The novella with publishers is one I hoped would do well, but after almost a year of it being out, my hope is dwindling.

I’m having all kinds of feels for my writing and while I’ve struggled with depression before, this time feels different. This time is more difficult to pull myself out of it. I’ve had so many bad thoughts over the last three months and I’m beginning to wonder if the lack of my writing going anywhere is a part of it. When you’ve written 12 1/2 novels, 4 novellas, and hundreds of short stories with nothing to show for it, life begins to look different.

Am I writing for the right reasons? Is my mental health worth this?

I’m beginning to wonder about those two questions more and more.

Why do I write? At first it was to prove to someone that I could do it. As I continue down this road of being an unpublished author, that’s no longer the reason. I like stories. I like to read them, to create them, and maybe I’ll continue to write in my free time but only for me. I’ve reached the point where I no longer feel a benefit to myself for my writing.

My mental health is the worst its ever been. I’ll be in California with my wife and kids celebrating my son’s high school graduation next week. The following week I’ll be looking for a therapist because I can’t do this by myself anymore.

If I decide to continue writing after those first few sessions of therapy I’ll figure it out, but I’m leaning towards stopping. It’s not enhancing my life anymore. It’s drudgery and it’s screwing with my head.

I will be spending tonight watching my son graduate from high school. I’ll be considering whether I continue writing over the next few weeks. I am leaning towards quitting.

The change is here

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When I said the change was coming last week, I meant this.

My world was turned upside down in the last three months. I wrote about that on Monday.

I found myself hating writing, hating myself, and not wanting to do anything to improve any of it.

The change is about acknowledging those things. It’s about understanding why I fell into a depression and how I must get out of it and work through it all to be a better person for myself.

There are many steps on a path, but the first step to improving oneself is the most important. On this journey, I’ve learned to understand that change sucks. Coming out of a dark place into the light, or at least as much light as I allow into my life, is worth everything.

My writing never took precedence over anything, and surely not editing.

Today I’m writing this post on Sunday before it posts. I need this separation from the blog articles. I’ll write blog articles on the weekends and fiction during the week.

I’ve discussed a new schedule for my writing day. How I’ll manage my writing and the editing I need to do. These are intrinsic to the goals I’ve set. The execution will be the more difficult aspect of all of this.

I am now sober for 76 days. I say this not as a brag but as something I’m proud of. I’ve consumed alcohol regularly, barring the few times I’ve gone sober over the last two years since I turned 18. Some of those times are good, but all of them are cloudy.

I’ve reached a point at 46 where alcohol no longer works for me. It dissolves me into a bottle, and the contents are not who I wish to be. It’s a long fight. I need to do it for myself.

Today is another day on this patch of dirt, and I’m glad I’m here.

The break that almost killed me

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I’d wondered how this post would go most of the weekend, and while I’m sitting here on Sunday awaiting the blood moon and eclipse. I learned a lot about myself over the last few months.

My break wasn’t one I’d intended. It was magical journey into one of the worst depressions I’ve had since my break in 2014.

It started with my son having some issues at school. I’m not blaming him. I’m blaming myself for not dealing with my mental health in a satisfactory way. There were inklings of the coming storm with how I handled a few things after the first of the year. The echoes of the coming storm reverberated and then took over as if the echoes weren’t echoes but the storm’s arrival at my doorstep.

I fought hard to contain the storm. I stopped drinking because I needed to. I put myself on a limit on how much social media I could participate in. This last part led me to take a break from Twitter and screw up my algorithm. I no longer saw the people I cared about seeing. It was all bullshit all the time. I dove into TikTok and into my Norse practice. The latter has been my saving grace over the last eight months.

I may go into the Norse practice if there is any interest, but let’s just say I had a few conversations in dreams last summer that led me to discover it.

As I fell more into a depressive state and swore, I wouldn’t say anything to anyone for fear of what they might say.

Those moments of clarity in the depths of my depression caused me to wonder what I was doing. Whether I should continue to write and if it was a waste of time. I’ve written steadily for the last eight years. I’ve written eight novels, 4 novellas, and more short stories than I can count.

Recently I wondered if it was worth it. I’ve often wondered whether I should continue. It’s something that still plagues me as I write this. After that much writing and having nothing except the collection out in the world, it’s hard to understand what I’ve done wrong.

The biggest problem is allowing others to dictate what I should write when I know better than anyone else what my mind is capable of. In that vein, I also understood I needed to find a real editor for my work. Finding one made a huge difference. I’ve barely touched the draft they’ve worked on. That changes this week.

I am on firmer footing with myself and my work, but there will always be that questioning mind about whether I should continue or move on. This hits hardest as my oldest graduates in a couple of weeks. We’re taking them and their sibling to Disneyland to celebrate this occasion.

As they step into another phase of their life, I know my wife and I are doing the same.

I will always struggle with depression. It’s a fact that I’ve come to accept. I won’t merely exist with it. I will live with it.

I began a new story this week, writing it for myself. I’m avoiding the traps of my former writing ways and throwing myself into it.

I hope you’ll stay and follow along.

The hard writing creates the most improvement.

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I’ve thought about this blog idea and finally stepped up.

I consider myself and horror and thriller writer, which is stated on my Twitter profile.

With thrillers, they come easily. They write themselves from the start of the outline to the finished story.

With horror, it’s different. I have to think a bit more. It challenges me more. I can’t write an outline for my horror stories, no matter their length. I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve learned to accept this is my process for each genre.

Identifying this little bit took me to the point of quitting altogether. It wasn’t until recently I identified that each story needs something else. And that’s okay.

I started a horror novel this week, and just as with others, I attempted to write an outline, but nope. These stories are all discovery written.

I believe it’s the intricacies of the thriller genre that require this. The layers of military/political/espionage thriller and the research those categories require force me(who has never served in the military, worked in politics, or participated in any espionage activities) into discovering how certain firearms work. How certain groups would operate and what they’re like is the most difficult. I don’t know anyone who works in these environments, so I read about tactics and weapons. The library I have on certain groups has probably put me on some government list. I’m fine with that. I get pulled out by the TSA every time anyway. I always have.

I enjoy the lack of need regarding all of the research with horror. Of course, there is some research, but nothing like when I’m writing thrillers. There is also the fear factor involved. I worry more if I’m getting details wrong with thrillers. One can only read so many books and still not understand what it’s like to be in a firefight, and I would never ask a vet.

I love writing horror for the simple reason of its freedom. I love writing thrillers because that’s what I grew up reading more than any other genre. Both are my wheelhouse and I learn different things from writing both. I find writing horror more difficult because it’s straight world-building throughout the process.

Thrillers will always have more work on the front end with outlines, and research, while horror will have more on the backend, either with more drafts or with research during or after the first draft is complete.

I’m adjusting to the fact that I write differently depending on the genre. I’ve taken some damage to my ego, which I’m sure needed to happen. I’ll be working this way from now on.

Horror will be my favorite of the two because it’s my safe space, as I mentioned earlier this week. But that’s all I have for today. Have a good weekend.

Horror has always been my safe space.

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When I think of horror it’s about the times I spent alone as a kid. My father wouldn’t come home for a couple of days. I’d spend that time watching horror movies on HBO or Cinemax or I’d read. But the books weren’t horror, they were military/political thrillers. Later they were dubbed techno-thrillers, but I digress.

Horror was my safe space. I felt safer watching those movies than at any other time. It was in those long nights of being home that I watched Basketcase, Creepshow, Tales From the Crypt, and a myriad of other movies. I watched movies a 13-year-old maybe shouldn’t watch, but it was the ’80’s and us latchkey kids didn’t have many rules. The rules we had were about school, but everything else was open and free to explore. I took advantage of that.

I’m sure the reason I fight with myself over writing horror or thrillers is because of those days and nights alone. When my father was home I read thrillers. When he wasn’t, I watched horror. Horror made me feel safe. It scared me of course, but I knew it was safe. T

he thrillers were about the world ending in a war or some random shooter. But horror wasn’t like that.

When I write horror I consider it a dive into my deepest, darkest memories and how those memories scarred me.

It’s within the construct of a horror story that I feel safe. I’m allowed to explore those bad memories. Those bad events. I’m able to parse those things into a story and allow my mind to explore them in a safe space. It’s this same safe space that I felt growing up watching those movies.

It’s the darkness staring through our eyes. Our memories of tragedy, of abuse, and of learning to deal with it in our own way. My way of dealing with abuse was to shut down. It still is.

When I consider where I came from and what I’ve learned about myself and the fear of things in the night, regardless of what they are, I think of long nights alone in the dark. The flicker of a horror movie on the screen is my solace and when I’m depressed or upset it’s these movies that bring me joy.

A new story comes from these dark places and they bring me joy in the same way those movies do. A new story comes when I’m ready to deal with the past in any shape. It breaks through the barrier I keep around myself. Those stories endear themselves to me. They show me the dark isn’t that bad and that I can work through anything.

My own development as a writer is to put this process through it’s paces. I must feel the story. I must understand that it’s going to get rough for these characters and that through them I can work through whatever trauma I have. I did that with the story, ‘Carnival of Darkness’ in my collection. I dealt with a situation from my childhood I’m still working through.

I must hear the story and the characters in my head and it’s only with horror that this happens.

While writing thrillers it’s the story, but with horror it’s the characters and their feelings.

I come to a story with an idea, but getting to know my characters and their feelings about life, love, and what trauma they’ve dealt with is where I play my cards.

I will let you get back to your regularly scheduled program.

I will be at the same Bat Channel tomorrow.

Change is coming…

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I’ve been in a very depressed state for the last three months. It started with my writing not going anywhere. It moved on from that onto my oldest having issues at school. They graduate this year and ran into some issues in February. From there my mind was thrown off and I haven’t written anything I’ve really enjoyed since.

I have a novel out with my editor and will continue to use this editor. She’s been awesome and understands the characters. Her going over my draft has been one of the brightest points of the last three months. The rest of it has been shit.

I have six projects in one form or another moving along, but getting fresh words on them are the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.

Long time readers of this blog know that I equate depression to living in pit. The walls are slick with mud and slime. It is hardest thing to climb out of because of those walls. I’ve had many thoughts of self-harm over these three months. I’m working through all of it but damn getting out of the pit is hard.

I’ve also quit drinking. This time for good. I can’t drink. It’s something that I’ve fought with over the last three years. It finally came to head around my birthday in March. I can’t in good conscience drink alcohol and fell good about who I am as person.

I no longer want to be in this situation. I’m working to improve my mental as well as physical well being. I will be using this blog to refocus my energy and to use it how I’d initially intended it. To write about my problems. I know it’s sometimes depressing to read about how someone is struggling, but I know there are people out there who are comforted and feel less alone by reading my words. I’ve had numerous people tell me so.

But I am on to the next page. I will be here more often and my content will change a little bit, but I’ll always talk about writing. It’s the one thing that keeps me going.

What’s holding things back?

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This will not be my usual content!

I’ve been on TikTok a lot lately and there are some fabulous conversations about trauma by good creators. These conversations led me to confronting a lot of bad shit from my childhood, from my late teens, and from my early twenties.

Some of these are issues I’m not ready to deal with, while others are of a different variety.

When I graduated high school all I wanted was to be a Marine. I went to boot camp and was shipped home a week later. I prepared for boot camp for months. But when I was sent home a lot of desire for anything came out of me. I got really depressed and a few times I thought of suicide.

I have never wanted anything in my life the way I wanted that and I think it’s held me back. I see this in my writing, my family life, and myself personally. I haven’t dealt with ghost of the months following my discharge. I didn’t care about anything then. It’s been almost 30 years since then and the “What if” creeps into my mind.

Today I’ve chosen to deal with this and what it did to me.

I was 18 and was as much of child as I could have been. I don’t believe I was truly an adult until I turned 28, just before my eldest child was born.

I was coddled when I got home by my father, siblings, and other family members. I’m sure they were trying to be nice about it, but I think that hurt more than anything else.

Was this 30 years ago? yes. Does it still have space in my head? Yes. But I haven’t dealt with this and I know it’s stilted my writing. I’ve never wanted anything the way I wanted the title, United States Marine, and it screwed me up.

I’m telling you this because I needed to write it down. I had to get it out. Maybe because I hope it will help me throw it away and move forward. I need to go after my writing goals like I did with that, and it’s been almost 30 years.

Today I’m moving forward and taking steps to put this period behind me. I have to. It’s done enough damage to my mental state. I feel like I’ve floated through in life since coming home. I’m sorry to that 18 year old kid that we didn’t do more for him. I hate that we’ve let him down, or at least it feels like it. By we I mean the me who’s lived since he came home. I feel we’ve let that damaged kid down by not doing something more with our lives.

I have a wife and kids and live a good life, but I think he would be disappointed in the lack of things we haven’t done for ourselves. I’m going to remedy that.

Have a good week and do things your 18 year old self would be proud of you for doing!

Found myself in Limbo today.

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The last few months have tried my mentally and physically. I’ve barely written a word in the last couple of months and those I’ve written I don’t care for.

I’ll never stop writing, but right it feels hard. I don’t know it’s this way, but it is and it’s causing my depression issues to creep back in. I want to be left alone to read, watch movies, and do absolutely nothing, but that’s not a possibility.

The aspects of not writing or being blocked, which I’m not sure if I’m blocked or if there’s something else going on.

I had a good discussion with my editor about my military/political thriller on Tuesday and it gave me a lot of confidence to continue to write in that genre, but it hasn’t turned into new words on the page.

I’ve dealt with a lot in the last couple of months with my mental state, what I want to do and whether I’ll continue to write, it’s a yes on the latter, and confusion on the former.

It’s difficult to deal with childhood issues when you’re working on them. It’s also difficult to understand that trauma you dealt with as a kid when it raises its head at the most inopportune of times.

I’m trying to work past all of this, but it’s quite difficult to understand why I’m stuck. I’ll go back and erase some of the items in the draft, or move them around. They’re hard to deal with and they set the story on a path I’m not comfortable with at the moment. I have to get back to writing and not worrying about whether the story is going in a direction that is manageable. Sometimes it manages itself, and I need to get back to my writing moving smoothly. It’s not happening right now.

I’m feeling a bit lost with my writing and it not flowing is making it worse. I’d wanted to have a finished draft of the espionage thriller done by the end of May, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I have plans for other books within the same world.

My brain has been active with regards to writing this stuff but my fingers have not. I’m writing, just in my head not on the page.

You have to put a book away sometimes.

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Last year I struggled to read books. I started strong but got stuck along the way. I’m certain I know which book did it: Lonesome Dove.

Don’t get me wrong I loved the book, but I felt like I read it for months. I’m feeling the same way with The Brothers Karamazov. Which I’ll be setting aside for a while. I finished Lonesome Dove last month, followed quickly by Streets of Laredo which was a good book, but it’s not the same as Lonesome Dove.

I need to read something fun. Dostoevsky is not fun. I’m enjoying reading about the characters but feel like so much is dragging on about various story threads. It feels closer to a bunch of stories put together to form a book rather than a novel with cohesion. I don’t care for the story, but the prose is incredible. There’s a difference.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I picked up a couple of books recently and I’m a subscriber to the Nightworms monthly book box. I received last month’s books and haven’t touched them because I’ve been reading Karamazov.

I recently finished watching the Reacher show on Prime and while I’ve read the first book, I haven’t read any of the others. I think I’ll read some of them for a while, then read the Nightworms books.

It’s okay to put a book down if you’re feeling overwhelmed, bored, not digging the story, or that you’d rather brush your teeth than go through another paragraph. Read what you want to read and read for enjoyment, not for a number.

Anyway, I enjoyed the Reacher show. I’m glad they’re going to do another season. I’m going to read something fun for a while. Dostoevsky feels like schoolwork.

What truly scares you?

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While I’ve been actively working on this rewrite I’ve thought about fear, judgement, and what really scares people.

When I was a kid I had a recurring dream about my Aunt’s basement. There was a coffin at the bottom and all of this smoke. When I reached the coffin a ghoul would pop up and I’d wake up screaming.

Being stuck in a place, with nowhere to go or worse, being stuck and unable to move are the worst things I can think of. I’ve had night terrors for years and used one of them to write a story in my collection. Most of what happens in one of the stories is completely true.

I find that writing horror allows me to tap into those fears. I use it well enough that my wife has asked if I’m okay while she’s reading drafts.

We’ve talked about what scares her and I’ve used that in stories, because she is the first person to read my stories. I also think about what would have scared me in my teens or twenties and incorporate that.

I’ve read a lot of books over the years and while some of them are very odd, I’m looking at you House of Leaves, the also make me think about different aspects of fear. House of Leaves does that with the Navidson House and Johnny Truant. Spoilers ahead for House of Leaves.

With The Navidson House is the fear of something outside our reality or outside what we understand. With Johnny it’s about a descent into madness.

Both of these sections of the book messed with my head. And thinking about the book in that context, I really enjoyed it.

We find ourselves writing things that scare us, our family members or who we were at one point in our lives. It takes a lot to scare me anymore. I’m very desensitized when it comes to horror, but there are limits for me. I don’t like when kids are hurt. The Girl Next Door did a number on me. It was a difficult book to read. The writing is so good you feel complicit. But I’m running away from the topic.

I’ll talk more about fear on Wednesday.

Don’t let research bog you down.

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A few years ago I was looking into cults and after one book I fell down a rabbit hole of cult stuff.

I read “Raven” about Jim Jones and Jonestown, watched a couple of documentaries about it, and kept going with other documentaries about Heaven’s Gate, Manson, and well, there are a lot of books and movies on the subject.

I started this research because of one story. A story that has sat on my hard drive for the last few years. It’s only as I thought of how to reconstruct the current project that it came back. I’m sorting through all of the cult stuff to make this story more interesting. I’m taking my time to inject all that I enjoyed about the former drafts while incorporating the contents of the short story.

The research about cults was fascinating but having done it to such a depth where it occupied a lot of my time wasn’t healthy, but I’m also aware that it will help me with this story.

Research no matter how small, if you’re fascinated by the material, will lead you down a few rabbit holes and it can be hard to climb out.

I’m able to use the material now but felt like I’d stepped in something at the time.

It’s a bit of a crap shoot sometimes with research, but don’t fall down rabbit holes.

Taking your time and getting through the drafts.

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Through trial and error, I’m discovering that I need to take more time with a story before I commit to writing. This comes as I’m working on the 3rd rewrite and 6th draft of this story.

I don’t take enough time to figure everything out. I jump in feet first and don’t think about it. It takes me more drafts to do that and as I worked on the story this morning I’m understanding the story better. It could be the draft number, but I’m realizing more about the story I didn’t see before.

I won’t get into the specifics because I’m submitting the story again this year, but it’s about more than I thought it was. Parts of it are personal, others are just the story, but I hope it finds a home.

But I digress.

When I take my time I understand the story, and while it takes a few years, it’s a better story for it. The current story started a couple of years ago as a short story. It’s changed what it is, but the meat is still in it and the heart continues to beat.

Getting through each draft is the maddening part of it. My wife thinks I should outline and narrow the scope to reduce the number of drafts. Some stories don’t let me do that. I know the story’s bones when I sit down. That’s not all the time, but usually, I construct the rest of the story around those bones. When I don’t know it I may sketch the thought down, just to have a record of it. I’ll work with that thought over a few weeks. If I have enough I’ll get to work. If not it sits.

The problem is jumping into a story without having those bones, ligaments, tendons. The heart may be there, but it’s a lifeless, grey thing without the other parts.

I’m trying to slow down with these drafts and construct something better.

I have to get other things done today. I hope you’re all well and I’ll see you on Friday.

There is a bit of transference…

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I’m going to continue on this tangent about books.

I’ve dropped reading Horror for a little while to work on my craft. I’m finding that when I read better writing my writing improves. I’ve ignored this for a while as I knew it happened, as it’s happened before, but I really like horror.

My current read is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. While reading it I’m realizing a few things about my own writing as well as ways to improve my craft. These things have to do with paragraphs and how to structure them. The problem is I’ve written a blog for so long that what I do on here flows into my other writing. The short clipped sentences you’re “supposed” to use in blogs made their way into my novel writing.

When I discovered this I knew I had to change a lot of my writing. The latest rejection told me that there were a lot of single-sentence paragraphs, which I knew came from my blog writing. I will be adjusting this and you will see that adjustment. I’m trying to get the length correct and keep to one idea within each paragraph. I’m aware this is how paragraphs should work but the way I used to right created problems and I’ve fixed them along the way to where I am. These adjustments took time to break and I’m still working on them.

Now I love horror, but sometimes the language and the structure isn’t as good in horror as it is in other fiction. There are writers whose prose baffles me. I’ll look at some writer’s work and think, “damn I can’t do that.” Afterward, I think, but I’m going to work on it until I can. That is my goal in this art, to get better.

I know this is a bit different for me, but I’ll continue to write on this blog, it may come across a bit different as I work on my craft issues. I hope you’ll stay as adjustments are made.

Getting to the end…

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I talked with my wife last night about writing, life, books, and a few other things.

I told her something about a conversation I read on Twitter during that conversation. I’d find it, but I’m not sure who asked the question: Why do you write?

I’ve replied to this same question before, but I considered that I’ve written 11 novels with not a one in print and replied, “I want to see how the story ends.” I realized that’s my problem. That’s why I’ve written so many but haven’t done anything with them. I want to see how the story ends, and I don’t care about the book afterward.

It’s like reading a book when I’m writing. If I’m invested enough in the story, I need to know how it ends. But I do this with almost every story I’ve written. I enjoy stories, and I always have. There are days that I enjoy them more than others, but I enjoy them.

When I slip into that mindset of I’m not a good writer, or that I suck at this thing, I think of all I’ve written and say, “No, I’m good at this, I just haven’t had a break.” Then I write something new.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this. I hope not. It would be sad to think other authors are only writing to be published, not because they want to know how it ends.

After our conversation, my wife asked if I write for me or publication.

I thought about it. I wanted to be published and wrote with that in mind for the longest time. After collecting numerous rejections, I write stories for myself. I may edit them; lately, I do that to improve my story. It’s an outside decision. I never write with the goal of publishing, not anymore. I write because I like stories. When I get to the end of my own, I decide if it’s a story someone else would want to read. If so, then I clean it up for that purpose. Sometimes the editing isn’t as clean as I want it to be. That’s only because of monetary limitations.

While I would love a good editor, my wife and I don’t have the money for it. There are many days when I think about finding a good editor to show me where I’m screwing up, then I think about the money it would cost and won’t put my wife and me in debt to get published.

Back to the story…

Fear of the Classics

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I have a problem, it’s with classics but not all classics just some of them.

I’ve read, Frankenstein, Dracula, most of Lovecraft, Alexandre Dumas, and I love Algernon Blackwood, Dum. The Willows is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever read.

But there are others that I have trouble with; Dostoevsky, Faulkner(not all of them), Melville. I know that I should read them and enjoy them but I don’t. I have tried reading Crime & Punishment at least 10 times, but on the last read, I quit. I can’t read that book.

I wish I knew why I have this trouble, but I’ve narrowed it down to fear.

What if it’s amazing and I wished I’d read it earlier. I feel that way about Frankenstein and a few others, but they’re either sci-fi or horror. It’s the literary classics I have trouble with. It’s not the way it’s written, it’s the fear that I’ll either hate it and feel like I’ve wasted my time on it or I’ll love the hell out of it.

This comes in many ways to me. I am going to read a bunch of classics this year and my current read is ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. I know it’s Dostoevsky, but I want to read it for my own reasons. These books are part of my learning as a writer and while I hope to enjoy them, there’s that fear I won’t.

It’s the whole I’m not good enough to do this writing thing. What if I read something and I feel I’ll never accomplish that grandiosity of what I’ve read? This came to me a lot in the early days of writing but hasn’t been raising its nasty little head lately.

I don’t know how to get past all of this other than keep reading, keep writing, and ignoring the voice in my head, so I’ll ignore it and read all these books.

This started as a conversation between my wife and me. I bought Don Quixote recently and she was surprised I’d never read it. I told her it’s one of those books I was afraid to read for all of the reasons I stated above.

Anyway, read what you like and don’t let that voice screw it up for you.

Recent reads

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I haven’t done an update on what I’m reading for a while, so here’s what I’ve read so far this year.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: I don’t talk about it much but I’m big into learning about Norse mythology both as a personal interest because of beliefs and because I think it’s cool to know about other belief systems.

Over the years I’ve read books about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and have read most of the texts associated with each of the beliefs I’ve listed. I enjoyed reading the Baghavad Gita quite a bit as well as Buddhism, but Norse Paganism is where I find myself.

The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow: I loved every moment of this anthology. The stories were incredible and while I usually have a hard time getting through anthologies I read this over three days from the first story to the last. It’s the first time I’ve done that with an anthology. I usually skip around.

I told myself I’d read a bit more classic horror this year and the next book blew me away.

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson: This is a weird book and I found myself thinking of House of Leaves quite a bit as well as Hill House and various Lovecraft stories.

It’s a very odd novel and while I read it I compared it to those I above as well as The Worm and his Kings by Hailey Piper, which is one of my favorite books that I read last year.

The next book is one that I’ve had on my shelf for a while but hadn’t read. Last week as I recovered from Covid I read quickly.

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris: I’ve watched this movie dozens of times. I enjoyed the book more than I believed I would considering how much of its content is mimicked or mocked in our society. I feel more for Starling the book than I did in the film. Her childhood and what she went through to get to the FBI is a wonderful backstory and it’s my favorite part of the novel.

Now I’m going to add something I put as finished last year, but didn’t.

Lonesome Dove By Larry McMurtry: I started this book last year after a suggestion by Stephen Graham Jones. I read up to page 600 and got stuck. It may have been from reading it so quickly. I got there in a few days, but my brain fought with me a lot last year and it’s more likely than the former.

After finishing it I’ve been going through a rough spot in reading and have picked up three different books. Yesterday I went to the library and picked up Streets of Laredo, which is the book Stephen Graham Jones suggested I read after Lonesome Dove. I’m only 100 pages into that one and it picks up from Lonesome Dove a while later.

I enjoyed Lonesome Dove more than I thought I would it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

There are other books I’ll be reading this year, Hailey Pipers “Queen of Teeth,” Catriona Ward’s “Last House on Needless Street,” as well as my intentions to finish “The Great and Secret Show” by Clive Barker which I’ve put off the last couple of years.

I have a lot to read and with my Nightworms subscription, I won’t run out of things to read.

Find your happy place and read something you enjoy.

Comes a time…

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I wrote a lot of blog posts last week while in isolation. I started the rewrite for a story I mentioned in this post and I’m moving forward.

I’d had an issue with a certain part of the story. I thought about that story through the weekend and found some new ground within its borders. I figured out how to make it work while incorporating a story I wrote a few years ago into its borders.

The story itself ran into difficulties while I wrote it and I came to understand there was something missing. A larger story was missing and the novella will be novel.

I’m making an effort to take it slow with this story, something I talked about on Friday.

I’m also doing something that felt odd until I noticed an improvement while doing it.

I see places in my head but can’t get them down as well with my eyes open. It’s only when I close them that I see the story better, so I’m doing that.

When I sat down to write this morning the words came darker, more evocative of what I want for the story. They’re better words and I’m sure my patience with the story is helping a lot with that. Patience isn’t always my strong suit. I’m always in a hurry to get to the next story, but I’m going to slow down. Take it in smaller steps to finish this one.

The incorporation of this short story into the larger frame of the novella adds more to the story and while it makes it darker it also changes one of the aspects of the story I didn’t like as I mentioned above.

There are many aspects of this story I love. The main character and what he’s dealing with are the biggest as I can relate to some of it.

We find ourselves in our stories often. Sometimes it’s little things, this is a bigger one for me.

I’m hoping to submit it later this year. I have four other projects out on submission and I hope to hear something about them soon. I’ll let you know when I do, but for now I’ll keep working on this one. If you’re curious, here is the playlist on Spotify for this one.

Happy writing.

Coming to grips with something…

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I have written 11 novels, 4 novellas over a hundred short stories and where am I?

Of course I have the collection on Amazon, that is on KU right now. I’ve sold enough for a good cup of coffee and maybe a bagel.

When I woke up this morning, thinking about rewriting sections of this novella I knew that something needs to change.

I blow through stories to quickly. I don’t think them through as much as I should. I’m in too much of hurry to get them done. And when it comes to editing, I do that but can’t afford a real editor. It’s not financially feasible for my wife and I.

I rush into things because I want to say I’ve written this many novels but where are they? Can they be purchased in a book store? Online?

I know I can write. That’s not the issue. As I said yesterday, it’s execution. It’s the editing. It’s going through the draft and figuring out what I’ve done right, and wrong. That’s where I come into problems. And they’re not huge problems, just ones that I have trouble navigating. I would kill for an editor to help me get past this stuff but as I said, there’s no money for it.

Writing these books gives me enjoyment. I love the process and it’s why I continue to write, but having written as many books as I have with nothing to show for it is maddening. It’s not like they’re all first drafts, but some are. Others are on their fifth, some on their tenth, yes 10th draft.

I hurry into stories. It’s a problem and it’s one that I’m going to work on this year.

I don’t plan like I should. I don’t take my time. I’m in too much of hurry to get them done. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. Write a lot, edit, send it out and wait. But when you’re always chasing what’s next you’re too focused on what’s next that you forget to go slow on your current project. Therein lies the problem.

I will take stories slower. Take my time editing. Do better at constructing each story.

I have a subscription to MasterClass and I’ve watched David Baldacci’s class numerous times. When he talks about his process, he says it’s changed over time and it will probably change as he continues to write.

My writing and how I approach it has to change. I can’t write another 11 novels and not have any of them published.

I have three short stories out and one novella out currently and want them to get published. I need to focus on taking my time this year. How many times have I said that in this post?

Coming to grips with this has been difficult and it’s my job to fix this.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Rejection, rebirth, rewrite, reconstruct

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I find the time that when a rejection comes in I struggle the most with this writing thing. I’m sure it’s the same with everyone. When a rejection comes in that is constructive I analyze what’s wrong with the story, according to the feedback.

Sometimes it’s the same feedback my wife had recently given me, which helps and certainly hurts as well.

After I’ve gone through the draft I see the instances they’re talking about. The after effect of this stings, but it makes me better.

There is a part of this process of analyzing the draft that feels different. It’s when I’ve read it and realize where I can fix the story. Where I can adjust it and where I can do away with parts of the draft. This is the rebirth of the draft. It becomes a new draft in this instance.

A rewrite and possible reconstruction of the draft follows this.

This is when the heavy lifting begins.

This all led from a great rejection I received. Yes they do happen.

I’ve decided to put all my other projects on hold until I can get this story that was a novella, but I’m going to stretch it out into a novel.

The story is kind of personal and I want to make it better. I wrote the first draft a couple of years ago. It’s now on the fourth or fifth draft. I lost it once and almost gave up on the story entirely. When I found it I almost cried. There are moments of joy in writing and that was one of them.

I am enjoying writing on here every day. I’ll continued to do it since I’m isolating after my positive test. Monday or Tuesday, if I’m showing now symptoms will be my last day.

Back to reconstructing this project.

In the way

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it comes in rainbows and somersaults. the way through to the escape hatch has been blocked. the entrance, a small window of light, the exit a blood filled pool, contains and taints us all. I see the ripples of the pool and run to the side. It never ends. the slipping, sliding of the sloshing pool under my feet as I slip in the mud and there’s more than that, but my vision is clouded with the rain of blood coming down. I see the randomness of the dark. The feeling of it pulling into my soul. the world slips. the ground rips and I’m there, standing at the shallow end of the blood filled pool. The spigot has run dry and I don’t know where I’m going and I feel like I’m in the way.

What horror and fear mean to me

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I am a child of the ’80’s. I watched Nightmare on Elm Street on VHS, saw Freddy’s Dead in theaters with the 3D glasses, and horror was my escape.

I was home alone a lot and staying up late watching scary movies on HBO was my favorite thing. My mom jokes about me watching Children of the Corn and Halloween and how it didn’t scare me much. I think it unnerved her that it didn’t scare me, which I understand.

But for me horror has been something I’ve always gravitated towards and while I’ve talked of the reasons on this blog, I’ve still never narrowed it down. I’m sure it has something to do with dealing with trauma. There was plenty of yelling and screaming in the house before my parents divorced in ’85. That yelling and having one parent belittling me constantly about my weight left scars that will always be there.

I have a couple of stories that deal with that stuff that I’m shopping around, but I may hold onto them for something else.

When I was a kid I knew that I wouldn’t make it past 40. I don’t know why I knew this, but I did. Now I’m 45 and after living with that for so long everything is easier. I was worried the whole year leading up to 40. Anytime I was in the car I felt unsafe. It was a weird feeling to believe you would die. I was completely absorbed in the concept, though I never told anyone.

There are other things that I think about going back to my childhood that float around in my head, but that’s a bigger one.

When you believe you’re not going to make it past 40 you don’t try that hard beforehand, at least I felt like I didn’t.

Today I feel like I’m working harder to make something of myself because after believing you’re going to die at a certain age, things afterward are different. You look at life in a certain way. Nothing that happens, even today as I sit in the bedroom isolated from my family, none of this feels hard and while I’m pissed that I got Covid, it’s just another thing to get through and I’m okay with that.

I was a horror movie fan long before I started reading horror. My first experience with reading horror was King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes and Four Past Midnight. I got them from my big sister and while I loved them, I didn’t read any horror for a while after that.

There was always a stigma around reading horror, especially growing up in Utah. If you read horror there was something wrong with you mentally. I’ve read quite a bit of King since and other older authors like Algernon Blackwood, Lovecraft of course and I’m making my way through the shorter fiction of William Hope Hodgson, Guy De Maupassant, and F. Marion Crawford.

I told myself I would read more classical horror, authors of color, and those in the LGBTQIA+ community this year. I have few books by authors in those categories as well but I’m always looking for recommendations.

I’ll leave you with this. No matter how hard things are I’ve always found peace in reading and watching horror. Fear is not the creature in the woods, the killer with the knife, or anything else. It’s the tricks your mind plays on you when you’re trying to get through the day.

A bit different

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I’ve been sitting in my bedroom the last few days after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday morning.

I come to the blog a bit pissed as I’ve been cautious with everything but obviously not cautious enough.

There are many things not say but as I’ve been away from my family in the bedroom my wife and I usually share I think that I’ve realized my health needs work, and it’s not because I’m terribly sick. I have a cough, had a fever earlier in the week, but I need to get in better shape and eat better.

When it comes to writing I have to make good a promise I made to myself. I have to get busy on figuring out how to make my own covers and not just shitty ones I’ve made to my needs.

I have goals this year and I’ll not be held back by anything.

I’m tired of existing. I’m going to live.

Navigating in new waters…

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When I set out to write the new project, I wanted to use an outline. There are many reasons for this, but the greatest among these are, the five stories I’ve written that are still out, were outlined.

The leads me to believe that when I outline the story comes out better. Because of that, I’ve decided to outline this story and anything else I write during 2022. I know this will be a transition from writing without an outline, but I know it will bear fruit, as it has so far.

Now that I’m doing this I have to understand how to outline better, and while I won’t follow everything, my writing and the story will have a better core and cohesiveness that it hasn’t had, except for the stories that are out.

I talked about music the other day, but the outline, and having a roadmap for the story will help a ton.

I know this is a short post, but I had to tell you what’s going on. I have a review on my other blog for The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 13, on my review site. I didn’t go as deep into the 24 stories, novelette, and poem as I wanted to, it would have created a larger article than I wanted, but here’s the link to that blog.

Finding the right music is the first thing.

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I’m working on two projects, one of them a collection for later this year, the other is a story that had initially been with this collection, but it wanted to be longer. The latter I’ll be turning into a novel or novella. I haven’t written anything over 36k in a while and It’s frustrating the hell out of me.

My process starts like this, idea, create a writing playlist, start writing. This is how I’ve always done it, but I think outlining is where I need to go, and I’ve touched on this numerous times. But as the works I’ve outlined are still out for consideration and others are not, I’m going to lean hard into that.

The idea for the collection came from interaction on Twitter. I wrote a list of 30 story ideas with the theme I selected for the stories. I wrote or used stories I’d already written that fit with the theme of the collection as well.

I used Spotify to create the playlist for the collection and am working on creating one for the novel. It won’t be the creepy music I have for the collection, but more along the lines of music the works for the story. I know it’s weird, but that’s how my brain works.

Now that I have the music or most of the music I need to create the story, I think it will move fast. If you like the playlist, look at the others I have, some of them have quite a few listeners.

But I digress.

I know what I’m doing better than I did a year ago and I owe that to a lot of people, but mainly that I am a better writer than I was a year ago.

Have a good day and I’ll see you on this blog Friday. I have a review site that I’m working on. It’s about horror reviews. Mostly books, but I’m doing movies and sometimes I’ll do a video game.

What things may come…

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I’ve been away for a while and during that time I’ve realized a few things.

1. I love to write but get distracted by the world too easily

2. The world is loud and I focus too much on what others are doing.

3. I may have written and submitted more in 2021 than any previous year, but this is not that year anymore and I have to improve my writing by doing more of it, taking more classes, and devoting more time to it than anything else.

These 3 things are the crux of my intentions for the coming year. Yes I am on social media, but I spend too much time on there and will be taking intermittent breaks for my writing as well as for my mental health.

My focus should be on what I’m attempting, not what others have done or said and I have trouble with that constantly.

I love the friends I’ve made on social media and they’ve helped me grow as a writer more than anything else aside from the actual writing.

We move through the world thinking of where we want to be but forget about the difficulties of doing those things.

So as the year starts, I speak of what things may come of this.

Good writing is my goal and I hope you’ll follow along.

My Heart Is A Chainsaw

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Let’s start with basics, I love slashers, and there are few decent slashers in literature, at least that I’ve found.

I know the format for writing book reviews, but I can’t do it that way.

Here‘s a link to what you’re supposed to do when you review a book.

Let’s get into this.

I started this book after receiving it in my NightWorms horror book box, but I got sidetracked by writing projects, researching Norse Paganism, and reading other things. The Norse paganism is something for me personally, and if you look at my recent reads, you’ll see I’ve dived into that pretty heavily, but let’s get back to this review.

The book’s opening is classic for a slasher, much like the opening for Friday the 13th. It begins before everything goes crazy, and we see two people doing things that will get you killed in a slasher. What it also does is add some mystery to what’s happening and foreshadow things to come later, which Stephen is brilliant at doing.

After the opening, we move to Jade, who is now one of my favorite characters. I can’t wait for my wife to read this book. She’s going to love this character.

Jade is a character that we know a little about, but the discovery process is terrific as the first chapter moves along. The glimpses into her world, one that, as a guy and white, I can’t relate to, but wearing those tags, makes me feel terrible.

I know people who lived on reservations when I lived in Mesquite, NV, and I understand the way our government and society treat Indigenous people. I’ve had discussions about this with friends.

As we move along, Jade is deep into a belief that something is going to happen in her little town. To me, it appeared like she had mental issues caused by something, but I won’t get into that. Her refuge for her trauma is horror. It has been mine since I was a kid, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much.

The number of movies the author talks about is crazy. I had to go find a list of them. This list is a spoiler of coming attractions in the book, so be wary of looking at the list if you want to go in blind.

As the story progresses, more elements of slashers come into play. Jade believes that a girl is a final girl for whatever the killer’s purpose is. There are loads of red herrings throughout, but the sheer evil of some of them made me pause and wonder numerous times, but it all came around to the finality in proper slasher form.

The date of 4th of July is classic and is pulled from one of the best slashers, Jaws.

Now, as the finality goes on, other things come into play, and while I want to spoil it, I won’t.

This is a book that I enjoyed so much, and Stephen is one of my favorite authors.

I know this wasn’t a perfect review, but I want to leave some important things out. It’s best to experience this book for yourself, and I don’t want to be the one to screw it up.

On another note, I’ll be doing more of this in the future. If there is a book you’d like to me review, let me know.

Moving Forward and Finding a Place

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Not sure where to start with this post.

Every once in a while I’ll get a bit philosophical. I’m not sure what causes it, sometimes it’s my emotions, but it happens. I like it when this happens as it lets me know I’m moving the correct direction.

I’ve been on a bit of a journey lately. I don’t know why this happened, but I’ve felt something missing.

I gave up on beliefs a long time ago, but lately, something is missing. My journey led me to look at Norse mythology and in looking I found something that fits with who I am.

These types of journeys are somewhat odd as for the longest time I gave up on spirituality, belief, and Gods. I never thought I’d find something within that wanted to go that way. I never felt a desire to go that way, but as I write these words, there is something, maybe an ancestral calling, that brought me to Norse Heathenry.

I’ve looked at numerous blogs about beliefs in my lifetime and there have always been the words, “when you find what’s you, you know.”

This always stuck with me.

I happened to be looking at Norse Mythology for something I worked on recently and wandering around the pantheon of the Norse beliefs, I found me.

I had not wanted to write this as it should be a personal thing, but you may see a few changes on here, and if you know me personally, you’ll see them as well. They will be small, but you will see them.

Now, to this, I am not talking about where Norse beliefs have been hijacked by others. I choose this as who I am, the same as another chooses their beliefs. It’s a weird place to be in for me. It’s an odd situation and because of it, I am making adjustments to how I handle writing, life, and all of the things beyond those other two.

This journey is difficult for me. As what I grew up believing is vastly different. Having no beliefs for over 20 years and suddenly to have this land in my lap, takes adjustment, but I know this is where I should be.

As my mental health hasn’t been great this year, this could not have come at a better time.

I’m learning, but make no mistake, I will always be moving forward.

NaNoWriMo and well, here we are again.

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If you remember from last week I’d considered not participating in NaNo this year, though as writing and life do, things change.

As I wrote a few words on the story I’d intended to write for NaNo, I sat back and looked at what I knew about the story, it wasn’t much.

I decided to take a few days and sketch out ideas about the story; scenes, characters, themes, and all of that, I learned a few things about what I wanted to write and how to go about this one.

I’ve failed at NaNo, though I knew I could write a book this quick, I’d done 100k from April 2020 until May of 2020, and that’s a book I’ll be publishing in January under a pseudonym, but that’s a discussion for another day.

When I finished that book I was spent. I didn’t write anything decent for a few months afterwards. But I’ve rewritten it twice and after a few more edits, I’ll publish it in January.

But I digress.

This story came out of a story prompt and after pondering it, writing down notes, coming up with a few characters and how to manage the story, I started it this morning and hit 2,121, which as I look at it now is weird.

I’ll be writing this story for the month and try and keep you updated on it’s progress, but you call also follow me on NaNoWriMo.org.

I’ll update that after writing every session.

If you’re wondering how I wrote 100k in a month, it was an average of 3300 words a day. Sometimes more, some less, but I wrote every day.

Until tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo issues and why I may skip it.

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Every year I intend to write something for NaNo, but it falls apart in many ways. Let’s list them.

First, I plan out too much. I get bogged down in the plotting and process of getting it all right. But it’s only after the fact when I decide the story idea wasn’t solid enough for something longer. I know a lot of writing during NaNo is the editing that comes afterward. One can’t write that fast and have it come out perfect the first time, at least I know I can’t.

Second, nothing comes to me. I sit in the chair and it’s all just blah. I hate the process of writing during those times. I don’t like the words. I don’t like putting them down. The act of getting them processed out of my brain and onto the page bores the hell out of me.

It’s these times when I think of quitting. The work feels stilted, though my wife will argue with me on that one. There are too many moments when this happens that I get bored, stand up and walk around, stared at my phone, or turn my desktop on and play Warcraft or Warhammer, and it’s these moments that bog me down.

Third, I’ll call this the Aftereffect, it’s when I write immediately after NaNo ends. I’ve done this five times and I may not finish the story during the month of December, but it will be finished. Two of those stories are novellas and are out on submission.

Fourth, and this is the one I’m dealing with now. I start writing before November because I can’t not write.

I’m not a happy person unless I’m writing every day. My wife will agree with this one. It’s that I’m too melancholy and I slip into old habits. I think about all the times I’ve failed at this thing and they haunt me. My sleep suffers, I don’t feel normal.

Lastly, I don’t feel motivated.

There are days this happens when I’m writing throughout the year, but during those moments I’m able to myself up and get working. During NaNo, I don’t feel that. I feel like everything is forced, and that makes for shitty writing.

I feel constrained to a limit on when I can write. This is partially part four and this last one. Both of which I loath because I feel like something is wrong. That I’m not using the gift I have. And that’s how I’ve begun to look at writing. As a gift.

But I digress.

NaNo is not for everyone and while I feel like I must wait until November, I’m chomping at the bit to get into this story and discover it.

Either way, I’ll write it, but as I’m feeling now, it may come sooner.

Are you working hard enough?

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When I contemplated giving up writing, I wondered if the problem was my work ethic.

This is never a question at my day job. It’s never been a question for any job I’ve ever worked, at least not since I grew up, which is a subjective statement.

Each of us grow up differently.

My wife was more mature than I was when we started dating. I am aware that it took me a while to understand a few things. It’s not that I’m not smart, it had to do more with who we are as people. It had to do with our life experiences. My wife went to college straight from high school. I did a year of college and hated it. There are many instances of this in our relationship.

She’s told my I intimidate her because of how my mind works, which makes me uncomfortable. There are other instances, but I digress.

Why do I have this trouble with my writing when it’s not in any other job?

Let’s analyze:

  • Imposter syndrome is a big one for me. I often wonder if there’s something else I should be doing. That I don’t owe it to my writing to focus as much as I know I should.
  • Not setting work hours. I do that with my current project, but once I’m done for the day I put everything away and do something else. I know this is the wrong approach, but I guess there’s a part of me that has difficulty accepting what I’m doing. It’s the guy part. The part that says I should be working. That I should be making money to support my family. That’s the big one.
  • Putting away things that get in the way. This has a bit to do with my day job and how I’m not really happy with it. I feel my day job gets in the way of my writing. It stresses me out more than the writing that’s for certain.
  • Exhaustion from working late night events. This is a big one. I am tired as hell some days and pulling myself out of bed at 6:00 am when I got home at 2:30 is difficult. Today was one of those days.
  • Telling people no. This relates more to my day job, which is for a bartending service. They send an email or text and ask if I can work. I say yes or no. But there are days when I want to say no because I’d rather be writing.

All of these are difficult when my brain tells me I need to work harder, I wonder if it’s screwing with me.

What this all leads to is starting to set a real schedule. Only doing events after a certain time in the day.

I know my managers don’t look at my writing as a real job, and I guess sometimes I don’t either.

It’s hard to consider something you’re doing a job when you don’t get paid for it.

There are moments of hope during the week, but they’re few and far between.

I have received about $48.00 since I published my collection last year. I know it’s more than I received the previous year for anything, but it’s not much.

I’ll be setting up a real work schedule: Mornings are for new stuff, edits are for after lunch. I’ll be more stingy with what’s important to me. Some of these are folded into others when they’re done.

I’ll start tomorrow.

Getting past the book hangover

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There are two types of book hangovers I’ve dealt with and I’ll talk about them today.

Let’s start with the one that everyone, at least if you’re a reader, has dealt with. I’ll go into more detail about the other one in a minute.

The Readers Hangover

Have you ever read a book, finished it, thought about it for days, then realize you hadn’t started new reading material?

If so, this is for you.

Most of us who read regularly have dealt with this. It usually happens after a particularly engaging read.

This engagement may fall into a couple of categories, but because I’m a horror writer, I’ll stick to the way horror does this.

It could be after a book that upsets the hell out of you. For me the book that did this was The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. I know this is a book that is suggested by many people, but step warily into this one, for it will do some damage to your psyche.

The thing about this book is the writing. Ketchum’s storytelling is incredible and it pulls you into a story that is unbelievable in its disturbing depictions. I won’t spoil it, but you feel complicit in what happens within its pages. It is an amazing book, but it’s not for everyone. I know quite a few horror readers who didn’t finish it and I understand.

I checked it out from the library and tossed it across the room a couple of times.

Then there’s the books that terrify in other ways.

Pet Semetary by Stephen King and The Reddening by Adam L.G. Neville did this. The Reddening was a book that I had trouble finishing because of a certain scene. My wife felt the same way. It’s one of those scenes where you wish you could pull the character out of the book to save them. Pet Semetary is a book that even King says he kept in a drawer because he felt it was too dark. There are moments in that book that truly scared the hell out of me.

Now there’s the books that you feel uncomfortable with. These are the hardcore horror.

Books like Urban Gothic by Brian Keene, The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White, and anything by Edward Lee. I have read the first two, but haven’t dipped my toes into Edward Lee out of fear, and a bit of worry. I’ve read the comments on his books, and the scare me.

Let’s move onto the other type of hangover. This one is for the writers.

The Finished Story Hangover.

You’ve finished a story. It could be a novel, novella or short story, but something happened while you wrote it.

It either took you to a darker place than you’ve been, made you rethink your life(as some stories do), or you confronted something within yourself.

This first part is difficult to get out of. You did some things in that story you’re uncomfortable with. You either don’t want to show it someone, like King did with Pet Semetary, or you wonder about what people will think about what you’ve written. The most important way to get out of this one is to not care what others think about what you write.

The second part usually deals with something about our beliefs. This is one each of us must deal with and while we’re dealing with it we’ll read scripture if we’re into that or philosophy. But pulling us out of that hangover is difficult.

That last is possibly the most difficult, at least for me it has been. You must face something you see in yourself. The confrontation for this disrupts the natural flow of your personal perception.

You may not understand why it came out in your writing, but now that it has you have to confront it, but you don’t want to. Seeing yourself differently after living however long you’ve lived changes something and I think improves who you are as a person.

All of these hangovers are subjective to you as the reader or writer and they don’t define who you are. The hangover is there because you read, or wrote something that changed you and that’s what the medium is for.

I hope you have a great rest of your day. I am reading Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby and I know it will give me a hangover. His last book Blacktop Wasteland did.

Truth be told…

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There is this life we have and we have a lot to do in it.

We must manage our personal lives, our work lives, and our relationships, but there’s one thing a lot of use forget about.

We must consider our dreams, for they push us to be better in our other managements situations.

Our dreams and whether we pursue them are some of the most difficult situations we undertake. It’s these undertakings where we may struggle the most. Where we may get our most strident resistance from others.

But, for the large majority of these resisters, it’s more to do with who they are, what they have or haven’t done with their lives, and how hard it was to give up their own dreams.

For some they gave up early because it was too hard. For others life got in the way of the chase, but there is a group who are offended that you dare chase something because they couldn’t.

This last group will tell you whatever you want hear, but in the dark, they’re saying other things. You should look at these people when your goals and dreams feel hard. These are your motivation. These are where you find the energy to do what you need to do.

The rage and anger you feel when you hear about the words they’ve said should push you harder than anything else. Your mind tells you to leave it alone, but that little voice in your head, it tells you to rip their throats out.

Listen to that little voice. Your mind says play nice, that voice…well, it says darker, more disturbing things.

Truth be told, that little voice, it’s your darkness. It’s the truth of who you are. Use it.

It’s difficult…

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A while ago, I don’t remember when, I came across a quote. I don’t remember if it was about writing or not, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t, but it was something to the effect of, “When things get hard, that means you’ve leveled up.”

I must have leveled up like a mother f’er, because things have been difficult as hell. I know my regular readers will acknowledge that.

Here’s the thing, you have to fight through it. I’ll continue to take some time off because I’m still struggling, but this quote popped in my head today, I don’t know why, but it did.

Now, there is this quote and there is my writing that I haven’t done shit with, at least not enough for me.

I’m also thinking about how I’ve looked at my writing. How I’d hoped getting published would help my family out, even a little bit, but that hasn’t happened, but this realization has.

So, let’s do a bit of retcon:

I’ve written 6 or 7 books since my family moved from Las Vegas to Utah six years ago. I’ve submitted nearly all of those books and received rejections on all of them. But with those stories I didn’t edit all of them. I wrote them and they’re on my laptop, but they’re only there, and that’s when another quote hit me, “If you decide rejection is the scariest thing to you, you’ll always avoid it, but if decide regret is the scariest thing, then you’ll continue. No rejection could be as painful as the regret of not trying.”

Rejection hurts like a mother f’er, but that act of not trying and the regret I’ll feel over that is more painful.

Back to the retcon:

Finding a way out and deciding to limit my exposure to social media as well as writing for me instead of writing to get published will change how I feel. I will continue to submit, but I will not submit so I can say, “look what I did.” That’s not going to work.

I will submit based upon whether I have something or if it’s a finished project, I’ll submit it, but as for submitting just for the act of it, I’m not doing that anymore. It’s too damn hard.

I will continue to write horror and maybe other genres, but my dark heart requires blood and I’ll feed it.

Where from here…

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I worked a bartending gig on Saturday and it was boring. I used that empty time to try and figure out where I go from here.

I love writing stories, but trying to get anything published feels like I’m wasting my time.

Here’s a bit of history:

  1. I started this blog in one iteration in 2004 I think. I’ve gained a lot of readers, but that never translated to readers outside of this blog.
  2. I’ve written 11 novels. I’ve submitted half of those to agents. All of them received form rejection letters.
  3. I’ve written over a hundred short stories, at least half of which I’ve submitted, with the same response as I listed above.
  4. I feel like I’m improving in my writing, but the submission grind has worn me down.
  5. It feels like I’m trying to prove something to someone, and maybe that’s where I’m screwing up.
  6. After over ten years of this I’m not sure I have the mental strength to keep submitting while only receiving rejections.
  7. I feel like I’m doing this alone. I don’t mean in the sense that I’m writing alone. It feels like the little bit of support I get isn’t enough to keep me writing.
  8. I’ve considered taking a step back for a while, without the blog or social media. I don’t use this blog as much as I once did and I don’t feel I get much of out of it anymore, and social media feels the same way.

That list is a lot to take in. As I read what I wrote it feels like I’m bitching, which maybe I am.

I once used this blog as a way to get my thoughts out, I’ve stepped away from that and used it as something that feels like I’m ranting constantly.

I get a few people reading here and there, but for the most part it and social media feels like a waste of time. There are a couple of reasons I’ve stayed on Twitter. I love the horror community on there. When everyone isn’t fighting over bullshit we do great. The second reason is, it’s the only place I’ve found reliable listings for submissions.

Maybe I need a reboot, a hard reboot. I hate to lose all of the followers of this blog and Twitter, but anymore, they’re only numbers.

I have a short story out for submission and a novella, but with my 10 year track record I’m not holding out hope for either of them.

Ten years ago my wife and I lost a storage unit. We had a lot of stuff in there, but it was just stuff we’d collected as kids or adults. We were upset, but I told my wife, “It’s just stuff. What’s important is us.” That’s how I’m feeling about social media and this blog. It’s just stuff.

To a halt

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I’ve been writing and submitting for the last ten years, I’ve written 11 novels, over a hundred short stories, and a few novellas.

And I self-published a short story collection last year which only a few people bought.

I’m fried.

I’ll be taking a break for a while. I don’t know how long, but for my mental health I’m taking a break.

I can no longer sustain this and I’m disabling comments on this post.

I’ve deactivated most of my social media and I need to take a step back and reevaluate whether I should keep going.

I love writing, and I’ll probably continue doing that, but as far as attempting to publish anything, I think that’s over. I have a novella out with a publisher and a short story out, but I’ve hit the point where I can’t do this anymore.

I’m sure my posts over the last few weeks have shown my waning enthusiasm, and I hate that it’s reached this point, but I have to think of my mental health.

Darkness comes in slow breaths

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There are moments, little pictures in my head of darkness. How it comes into my head, forming like clouds in the sky, I’ll never understand, but it does.

When these moments come, they’re like breaths on my face, or a whisper in the trees.

They came often enough as a teenager I wrote some of them down. Turned them into sad, shitty poetry, but later they came through as dark stories. I never understood where they came from, but thought it may have been caused by the divorce of my parents. Then, in my early twenties, it sound right, now, I think it was always there.

I’ve thought about darkness, the slow breathing of it, the rapid heartbeats that follow a particularly dramatic scene, and how I’ve always enjoyed that rapid breathing. How when I watch horror it does something to me.

I feel more at home in those dark cupboards, closed down buildings, and with the monsters, than I ever have in the light.

Some people are born in darkness, others have it showed to them, and it changes them. It needs prodding, poking, and sometimes, screams, to bring it out, but it’s always there.

Writing the story from this past week I dealt with a darkness I rarely touch on because it makes me uncomfortable. I feel it’s harder to write the human as the dark thing instead of a physical monster.

We can explain the monster as it being a monster, but the human that is the monster, it’s harder for us to explain.

The best example of this, for me, was The Girl Next Door. We see the things in the book, and because of Jack Ketchum’s brilliance with words, we feel complicit. We feel we’re part of what’s happening.

I didn’t read for a couple of weeks after that book. It all felt too hard knowing that what happened within the pages of that book were based on a true case.

The human monster, regardless of its form, scares the hell out of me. It’s also the most difficult for me to write and it takes something out of me when I do it.

We see the news, but we only experience it through a screen. We’re not there. That’s the brilliance of certain authors. We feel like we’re involved.

I’ve tried to grasp that, and know my diversity with books is a where I falter, and I will do better about that.

Each moment within a book is taken from that author’s mind, and if we want to get to the root, we must understand the process of writing better, or at least I need to understand my process better.

When the darkness would come as a child, I’d shrug it off. Now that I embrace it, it’s much easier to travel roads I never would have. This is where I’ve grown the most in my writing.

Embracing the breath. Chasing the darkness, and loving the full taste of it all.

Getting on sure footing

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Let’s face it, I haven’t been doing well.

If you’ve read my posts over the last few weeks you know that, but I’d like to say I figured out my new project, and while I may need assistance with parts of it, I like where it may be going.

I’m also reading “Suburban Gothic” by Brian Keene and Bryan Smith. I read Urban Gothic last October and well, that was one way to start with Brian Keene’s work. I’d recommend “Ghoul” instead.

But I digress.

Since I’ve learned a lot over the last few weeks about myself and how I need to manage certain aspects of my writing, as well as my life, I need to get something off my chest.

I’ve been drinking to get through this shit. I don’t know why, but that’s what it is.

I’ve put it away to focus on this story and my mental health, which sometimes goes hand in hand. I also intend to submit the novella soon. I’d intended to do it this week, but my wife is busy, and depending on what happens next week, she’ll be busier.

I was in a bad place for most of the last three weeks, maybe a month, and it’s been difficult to function.

I’m working through some shit and it’s been difficult, but writing is what keeps me sane, as well as above ground. There are many ways to get through depression and alcohol and brooding over shit is not the way to do it.

This new project is going to help, and as I said Wednesday, I’m skipping some levels on this project and will have to go to a very dark place to get there. Which is one of the reasons I’m reading “Suburban Gothic.”

I hope you have good weekend, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll chat with you on Monday.

Optimism and Doubt

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If you talk to me about anything besides writing, I’m optimistic as hell.

For some reason when it comes to writing the optimism goes out the window. It doesn’t matter that I’ve written 11 books, 5 novellas, and over a hundred short stories. When I sit down in the chair to work in the morning, doubt is the first thing in my mind.

Nowhere has this been evident than in the current project. I’m in the beginning stages of it, but the feelings that I can’t write it, that writing it will take me to a really dark place, and it’s all because of the subject matter, which is to say it lightly darker than I’ve gone before.

One thing about writing horror is that the dark is my safe space. I love to watch scary movies, read scary books, and sometimes play scary video games.

But the doubt that I can’t create this story the way it needs to be written has me doubting writing it at all, which would be a travesty since I feel the idea is awesome.

I’ve told my wife this story will have me skipping some levels. I won’t just be doing things in the dark like some of my stories, they’ll be out front for the whole world to see, which is scary.

My wife told me that with the subject matter, she probably won’t be reading this one, and I’m cool with that.

I have trouble reading some extreme horror, and it’s because it don’t enjoy it. I have set books down that took me somewhere my mind didn’t want to go, and there are authors I won’t read because I don’t enjoy what they write, but some people do and that’s okay.

When it comes to optimism I have the lion’s share with the pandemic, when a family member is sick, or anything else in my personal life, but trusting my gut is harder when it involves writing a type of horror that is on the outside of what makes me comfortable to write.

Writing is about boundaries, at least for me, and knocking those boundaries down can be difficult, as can taking the story slower than I usually do. Having written three novellas in the last three months has me wanting to move quick through the story, but this one can’t be rushed.

I usually sit down, turn on Mac Freedom, set a timer for 25 minutes and write, with this one that’s been difficult, but I’ll keep going because not writing isn’t an option.

As I get past this boundary I know it will make me a better writer, and less afraid of writing out of comfort zone. This one is so far beyond my comfort zone that my optimism took a hit, but I’ll keep going.

Hope you’re all having a great week, and I’ll talk on Friday about something else.

Keep rolling

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Withing in the spectrum of who we are, what we do, and solve our problems, there is a movement.

It depends on our deepest fears, our darkest desires, and without these movements we are flat.

The movement is a random act of falling into our projects, our journeys, or lives.

It can push us to the limits of our abilities, or in the worst of times, push us into the pit.

Within the movement are the clockwork parts. These are the items within our mind that pushes us to new heights, or when we’re depressed, anxiety raises its head and there’s only the thoughts of despair, it will drag us down.

These are the bottom movements. They are the worst parts of trying to attain what we want. They keep us stuck in the same place, deny us our desires, and restrict our goals.

Getting out from under these restrictions, denials, is the most difficult thing we can push through. We have to get through the bottom part of these movement to the top.

At the top of the movement, like the top of the clock, is the beginning of our new journey.

It’s where we can be our most creative. Where the lights come one. It may feel like we’re not all there, but digging out from the pit, reaching the top of the movement, it’s the creative place. Where we need to be in order to make our place, make our stand and rectify our thoughts.

These creative fluctuations are normal, they keep us moving to the next project, the new thing.

Some projects may give us a hangover, but the next day we must get to the desk, easel, or the stage. Keeping the clock in rotation engages the part of our mind where our goals are at the forefront of who we are,

Limiting our mind is the way to limit our goals and where we want to be.

Push forward, go stronger, get better, keep the clock rolling.

Starting over…

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After struggling with my mental state and my writing over the last few weeks, the thought of a reset, starting over, whatever you wish to call it, has been on my mind.

.A reset in the way I’m dealing with depression issues, my writing, my bartending, and whatever may come up.

In regards to depression, I’m making a list of what’s been setting it off. Why I’ve been struggling, and I’m fairly certain this has to do with the elimination of people who are better left out of my life, for one reason or another.

With writing, I’m going back to stories I’ve read that pushed me to get better. I’m starting up with Dark Descent again. There are amazing stories in that anthology, and I need to work on my short story issues. ,

I know there are writing problems with my short stories, and I’m working on them, but seeing how the greats do it helps me.

Bartending: I honestly don’t know how to approach this without sounding preachy. I worked last summer during the height of the pandemic, with some people wearing masks, but it feels like we’re back to that. I don’t like doing events. I’d rather be home with my wife and kids working on my writing. But the deal with my wife is I have to bartend until my writing eclipses my yearly salary, which is only 10k.

This reset and starting over hopefully will lead to better management of all that I listed above.

Have a good weekend and get some work done, or not. Maybe take the weekend to have fun.

Going it alone

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I’ve reached a point with my writing where I have to do some of this alone. I don’t have anyone to read my drafts other than myself.

My wife, who is usually my first reader no longer has time to read anything of mine. It sucks, but she pays the majority of our bills and its not worth forcing the issue.

I gave her a novella in July and she never got to it. So, I have to move forward doing this myself.

I’ve mentioned we can’t afford an expensive editor. This is me going it alone on all of my projects going forward.

I’ve looked at an editor for my military/political thriller, but it’s also 86k and the editors I looked at on Reedsy wanted over a thousand dollars for that. We can’t afford that.

This problem led me to reevaluate my writing goals numerous times, and even contemplate quitting altogether. When we don’t feel like we’re getting the support we need, the world feels like its on fire and we can’t locate a fire extinguisher. At least that’s how it feels to me.

Today I finished the edits on a novella, which means I ran it through Grammarly and the Hemingway app. I know that’s not ideal, but it’s all I have.

Going it alone is depressing. Now that my time away from doing events nears its end, I have to go back to dealing with people not wearing masks in a state with 1500 new cases as of today, 25% of those in kids, with the majority of them in the 0-3 years old range.

I don’t know another way, but going it alone is better than quitting. I may submit the novella as is. I don’t really want to, but I’m leaving that open as an option.

My hope in this working alone is that it represents a changing in how I approach my writing and how I approach everything else, which falls in line with my post from Monday.

I’m still eliminating the toxicity, and I feel better, but there are moments, like today, where I wonder if I would be better off quitting trying to publish my writing. I can’t stop writing, but working to get published became something more daunting recently.

I’ll keep going, but damn I wish I had some assistance.

Removing the Negatives

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I’ve had a rough time the last week or so. I don’t know why that is, but everything feels like it’s falling down around me and I’m the only one paying attention.

I know this is my depression issues setting in. Then there’s a bunch of family drama that I have zero time for. People that won’t get vaccinated, that kind of shit. My daughter can’t get vaccinated so I’m wary of anyone who refuses the vaccine. They’re also the ones who don’t wear masks.

But I digress.

My depression issues are something I’ve explored on here more times that I can count. With its reemergence comes the time to evaluate where I’m putting my energy.

I think about these people I care about too much sometimes. When they act a certain way, I try and discount it because I know they’re intelligent, but yeah, no time for that shit.

I’ve cut people out when they’ve shown who they are before, and I have no problem with cutting out others.

These are the negatives I’ve dealt with over the last week, as well as the fraud police showing up every time I open my laptop.

I finished a short story yesterday, and another last week, but they’ve been in my head constantly.

I have a novella that I need to finish editing this week and its been difficult to manage all of this.

There are times I’ve thought of quitting, considered stopping writing because I’d like to help out my wife and kids more money wise, and I’m really not enjoying bartending lately. No one is wearing a mask, no one appears to care about those of us on the front lines.

Hell, I bartended last summer during the darkest moments of the pandemic because I had to.

This mental health break I’m taking from events has been nice, but I’m so tired of worrying whether I’ll bring something home to my daughter. The stress of that will lower when she can get the vaccine next month, but damn I’m tired of people not caring.

I’ll be limiting the negatives for the foreseeable future. No bullshit texts, removing those I’m following who don’t offer me anything, something I should’ve done a while ago.

Removing the negatives starts with identifying where you’re stress lies. I know it’s from family bullshit, so I’ll be limiting that.

I know it’s from the fraud police, I don’t know how to fix that, other than to work on myself and my goals, so that’s what I’ll do.

Have a good week.

About Progress…

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There’s a moment when you finish a project that feels extraordinary. It comes at you, wraps you in a hug, and gives you endorphin high. But that high isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.

The moment is magical, but it’s also one that you shouldn’t focus on. There is still other work to be done.

When I started writing I lived for that high. I’ve written 11 novels, ten novellas, and hundreds of short stories.

I did this by focusing only on that high. Only on finishing. What I failed to learn, until recently, was that I wasn’t finished. The editing would come after the finished first draft. But for the longest time I didn’t edit, which is why I have so many novels written, but none published.

I chased the high of finishing that first draft, but I didn’t have follow through. I stopped at the gates of what I wanted and moved further away from my goals, all by ignoring what needed to be done.

In the last year and half, I learned that editing matters. Yes, I know you’re all staring at this like, “no shit!” Well, I didn’t care then. I wanted that high of getting to the next “finished” novel.

When I sat down last year, during the lock-down and stared at all that I’d accomplished, it wasn’t shit. Yes I have my short story collection, but I published that afterwards. It came as a result of this talk I had with myself. It counts, but only as me telling myself that I had to publish something before my 45th birthday.

The collection needed work and I’ve gone through a couple of more rounds of edits with it. While it’s out there, no one is reading it. I understand the reasons for this.

I haven’t pushed it as much as I should. I didn’t market it, and because of that, I’ve sold about ten copies. But I understand what I did wrong with that collection. I know what to fix when I publish something else.

All of the above came as I progressed as a writer.

I know that a book isn’t finished when the first draft is written. I understand that working on a book means editing.

There are moments when I don’t want to edit. There are many moments when the time I’m spending feels worthless.

Oftentimes submitting feels worthless, but I do it because it’s part of progress. It’s part of writing, and I have to keep writing.

We progress a little at a time. Sometimes we progress dramatically, but we must progress. We must move forward.

Followed Into Darkness

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Now that I’ve redone this blog as geared mainly towards horror, there are a few things that will be different. Focus for one. Yes, I use that word a lot, but with regards to the blog’s direction, it’s a necessity.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know that I like horror. This is something that’s been with me for as long as I can remember, and while the blog does go off the rails onto depression topics at times, I’ll be trying to keep the focus mainly on horror.

With this change the topics will go from what I’m writing to what I may be reading, or what I may have recently watched.

While I don’t intend to have this be a review blog, there may be a few of those thrown in if a particular book, movie, or sometimes…a video game, forces me to.

On the topic of what I’ve watched, my wife hasn’t seen many slasher movies, and we’re going through the first three, maybe four of the Friday the 13th movies over the next few weeks.

This has more to do with her wanting to know more than anything.

I grew up with horror movies, and in her family, it’s not something they watched, while I would stay up nights and watch Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside, or whatever horror film is playing on cable.

Her wanting to watch these movies plays into what she’s reading: The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones. I read that book a while ago and loved it.

She does have her limits, however. She does not want to watch Hellraiser or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the former of which is one of my favorites, but having watched it numerous times, I understand.

Anyway, that’s all I have for today.

See you Friday…

Something about vampires.

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The topic of vampires has been in my head for the last few weeks. I think it’s because my wife and I watched “Blood Red Sky” on Netflix. It was good, a very different take, but there were things about it I really enjoyed.

I won’t give a spoiler type review here, but all of it was good. Of course there are things I didn’t care for, but that’s with most movies.

Vampires have been one of the things I’ve avoided writing because of the deluge of vampire stories in the early and mid ’00s. But I need to get this off my chest.

I’ve been a vampire freak since I was a kid. I saw Dracula with Bela Lugosi at my aunt’s, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which is still awesome, but with the number of vampire stories I referenced in above, there have been few stories that received traction. There are some, but for the most part you have to go looking for them.

Now here’s where I go geek. I researched vampires numerous times. I know all of the lore, and while I find some boring as hell–Twilight–there are others that I found incredible–30 Days of Night.

But with being out of the vampire decade, which is what the ’00s felt like to me. I feel it’s time for them to come back.

Brian Keene has one out, and it’s next on my TBR. There is also Savage by Daniel Soule, and Villimey Mist’s Nocturnal series. Those last two hit my radar recently and I’m looking forward to diving in.

I am looking forward to the return of dark, scary vampires, but until then, check out the authors and their work that I listed above.

I’ll be back on Wednesday,

Enveloped by Darkness

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There is something to be said about discovering ones purpose.

It brings out thoughts of childhood, of adolescence, and early adulthood.

Memories flood in of things we thought, feelings we had for others, or ourselves. But it’s within these memories the truth comes out.

We’ve pushed those memories deep to keep them from ourselves because honestly, they’re too hard to deal with. But with hiding things from others, ourselves, and keeping them that way until a sudden realization comes about, we never truly understand who we are.

This darkness that’s enveloped me since childhood was a thing I pushed down. Something I didn’t want to see the light for a few reasons.

I grew up in a very religious community.

Living in Utah is like watching a movie about a religion and never being allowed to turn it off. Being a person who is not a member of that community is a careful dance. One can’t commit to too many things. You can’t afford to show your true colors, and you must never show any glimmer of darkness.

My darkness has been around since childhood.

It manifested every time I wanted read or watch something I wasn’t allowed to, but would sneak to watch or read. It was the times I’d stay up when I was left alone and watch Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside, and whatever other show was on cable or other channels late at night.

In Tim S. Grover’s book “Relentless” he discusses the dark side and how everyone has a dark side.

I’ve listened to that book on audio at least ten times, and believed that a person’s dark side had to be a vice.

I recently had a discussion with my wife on this topic. She believed it had to be a vice as well.

But what if it’s not?

He says in the book that “what is the one thing that if people were to know it they’d look at you differently?”

Now, I believed it to be alcohol, like a vice, but I don’t feel that’s true anymore.

The one thing that I’ve kept to myself is that I like all these dark things. I like to watch a horror movie and be scared. I enjoy reading a book that scares me enough, or freaks me out enough, to toss it across the room after finishing it. I did that exact thing when I finished “The Girl Next Door” by Jack Ketchum.

There is a story in my collection where I let my mind run and what I wrote freaked me out. It was very exciting to me that I wrote something that made me afraid to share it. And that is exactly why “The Leftovers” is in my collection.

That story felt freeing.

There were things in that story that I didn’t want to write, but I felt in order to be honest about the story I had to.

Now, as I’ve apparently accepted my dark side and that I’m no longer afraid to go dark, what I write may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t want to write for anyone else. I want to write what felt forbidden. Pull things from the dark recesses and put them on the page.

If you’ve read “The Leftovers” you understand what I’m talking about. If not the collection is only .99 on Kindle.

As I go back to the regularly scheduled program, I leave you with this. What is the one thing that if someone were to know it they’d look at you differently?

Use that to push yourself. I got looked at differently all my life for all the dark things I love. But it’s made me into the functioning adult I am.

Have a good weekend.

Writing In Denial

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“you can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I reached a point of fascination when it came to the macabre early on.

The darker the material, whether it was books or movies, I loved it.

I also knew that this was no accepted, at least when it came to books. I’ve said numerous times that he wouldn’t let me read what I wanted. This was different when it came to movies. I think he wanted to scare me, but it didn’t work. I was fascinated.

This was very evident when we watched Pumpkinhead. He said it would be a good and scary, yes it was scary, but that wore off, replaced with a fascination of the creature. When I found a copy of Fangoria with the details about the makeup and effects in Pumpkinhead it pushed me further to understand why I liked these things.

I don’t understand why I like darker things, and it took me a long time to embrace my love of them. It’s something that I resisted for a very long time.

I resisted it out of being tormented, and wanting to fit in.

As I grew older I found the books I wanted to read as a kid but weren’t allowed to. I watched a lot of horror movies, but the books were what I craved. I read a lot of King, read Barker, and these are two of my favorites, with Clive at the top.

I’ve read so many horror books, watched a lot of movies, oftentimes alone because my wife can only handle some movies.

In the last few years I’ve begun to understand this part of who I am as well as embrace it. I get looks when I talk about the horror books I read, the stories I write, but in being authentic to myself I have to embrace the dark side I’ve put away for a very long time.

This revelation came about while listening to an audio book for the tenth time. I put this part of me away so long that pulling it out is difficult. Letting it run loose is even more difficult.

While I’ve thrown myself into the dark end of the pool in the last couple of years, the pool has called to me since I was 12. Now I’m playing catch up.

I guess it’s time to move forward into the pool and realize it wasn’t dark, not exactly, it was the blood I denied myself.

Playing in this arena with my mind fully there is something I’ve set aside. I did that out of judgment, fear, and for the simple fact that the stories in my mind scared me. It’s these stories I’ll follow down the rabbit hole.

Focus is the issue

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As I sat down to write this morning I’d stop, check Twitter, and maybe go back to the story.

I’ve been doing this for the last week with every story I started.

Yes, what I said on Friday is true. When I’m not enjoying my reading material, I have trouble writing. And I must be reading within the genre I’m writing. I cannot cross the streams.

There it is in all of it’s horrible glory. I have a focus issue. I have Freedom for Mac and I’ve been neglecting using it for a number of reasons, let’s list them:

  1. I don’t want to use it because it feels like a crutch.

2. Using it feels like there’s something wrong with me.

3. I tell myself I don’t need to use it, but when I have this much trouble focusing, something has to change.

4. get interrupted by my kids a lot in the morning for various things. Then I have to stop it or let it run.

Now that they will be returning to in class instruction it will make the mornings easier, but I’ve also written with no problems while they’ve been home for the last year and a half.

It’s right now that things are a bit hectic with them going back, my wife crazy busy, and the bartending is slowing down heading into September.

There’s also one thing that has been on my mind: We’re getting a dog in the near future and planning for that in our house has been interesting. I have to fix cords, put things away and I worry about my book storage. It will be like a having a toddler in the house again.

So, focus is the issue, and the fraud police, as I stated in Friday’s post.

I only have a short story collection published, but I have a novella on submission and a short story. But as I’ve written 11 books, submitted three of them to agents, I find it hard to wonder if I’m doing something wrong.

Are my stories bad? Is there something I’m doing wrong or is my head just screwing with me?

I like to think it’s the latter, but with as many novels, novellas, and short stories I’ve submitted and received rejections, it’s a thing my brain throws at me.

I’ll keep writing because I can’t not write. Right now it’s difficult, but I will persevere, I will continue to write.

I hope you all have a good week.

I have two bartending gigs this week and while I’m masked during them, it’s starting to feel like Survivor: Pandemic Edition. Masks are rarely worn by guests and with the percentage of vaccinated in Utah, I doubt all of them are vaccinated.

But I’ll keep working because my family needs me to.

Getting through it

There have been many days where I wanted to quit. When it all felt worthless. When I wanted to throw my laptop and all the stories I’ve written in the trash.

This last week I spent time with my family at Disneyland. It was fun but we have our issues sometimes. I’m sure it’s that way with every family.

It made me realize that my head was getting in the way of my progress. I was letting my thoughts run my life. That’s not a way to live. The thoughts were terrible and I wish I could forget all of them, but they’re still there in some empty space in my brain.

I didn’t write on that trip. I barely took any pictures. I stayed as much in the moment as I could. And it was hard. I can’t remember the last time I put everything away and stayed in the moment so solidly. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done.

I’m usually on my phone looking at social media, but I only did that on a couple of instances last week.

Being in the moment was as difficult sober as I knew it would be. There were too many times I wanted a drink to steady my brain. It made me want a drink and it also made me lash out at my family. That was my fault. I wasn’t prepared for all of what was going on around me and I wanted to dull it.

No dulling happened and I stayed a bit angry. I’m angry at myself today for not handling it better and for not understanding how difficult it would be to manage all of the stimulation around me. Which I should have.

Now I’m back at the desk working this week. I’m making my way through Tim Waggoner’s Writing In The Dark Workbook and will have a review with some of the exercises up when I’m done.

I can’t say enough about how this book has helped me. I’ll save that for the review.

I hope you’re going to have a good week and as I struggle to deal with my behavior I hope you’re managing your own.