Horror doesn’t feel scary lately.

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I was talking to my wife about the state of horror novels and there seems to be a bigger trend toward a story being unsettling than scary.

I read quite a few books in the last couple of years and I can pick a handful that truly scared me. Last Days by Adam L.G. Nevill, Kill Creek by Scott Thomas, and The Fisherman by John Langan are exceptions.

But it feels like there’s a move away from scary into the realm of unsettling.

I’d like someone to show me a book that I haven’t read that would change my mind on that.

You can look on my Goodreads profile to see what I’ve read.

Trying to get through…

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I’ve become stuck on my recent project. I don’t know where it broke. What happened or how to fix it.

The one thing that I did different from the previous project is I didn’t think this on through.

I didn’t plan. I didn’t plot. I didn’t create a pathway to get where I need to be; where the story needs to be.

I’ve been writing a dozen short stories over the holiday break, and maybe that’s why I thought I could wing it with a longer form story.

It hasn’t worked and I can’t go back to writing multiple drafts again.

I have the story I finished before Thanksgiving and I’ll work on improving that one.

It’s strange how you write one way for so long, then you start a new way and it’s like finding the holy grail.

I’ve written 10 novels and eight of those were written by pantsing. The other two I either wrote a beat sheet or did an outline and it’s those latter ones that I feel are my best work.

They have a better flow through, a better story, character development, but after using and outline and beat sheet, I’ve gone back to a few of those and discovered what went wrong and fixed it.

I’m querying one of them right now. It’s out with three agents.

This year I want to push what scares me and that leads into a conversation I had with my wife the other day about the current slate of horror. But I’ll talk about that on Wednesday.

Enjoy the first full week of the new year.

What comes next…

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Last year I did a lot to work towards my goals of publishing, but there was still the bit of fear of doing it.

I realized that I’m completely in control of this whole thing and if I’m going to publish, no matter what form the stories are in, I have to do the work. I also must have the time to work.

I won’t be doing any events this next year if they start before 12:30 in the afternoon. That will leave the morning open for working, which is what I should have been doing from the outset, but I wanted to be accommodating to the company I work for. They are the only ones who would hire me after leaving Vegas and I felt I owed them to work any time they needed me.

I still owe them a great deal. They saved my ass.

But I’ll be 44 this year and I wanted to have more done in my life by now. I had goals that for one reason or another I didn’t follow through with.

I set standards for what I wanted to have done by the this time. I tossed them away.

This year, I plan on focusing on editing and getting things out.

Those who have followed the blog(all 360+ of you) know how hard I’ve struggled with editing. I won’t struggle this year.

I have too much at stake to toss it away.

I will publish this year, in some form.

If someone who has multiple paying jobs can do it, I can do it with my one.

I think I’ve stopped looking at my writing as a side project. It’s my main focus. I will bartend events this year but I won’t let it take away my focus from my writing. If I have to bring my laptop to an event, then I’ll do that.

This year I’ll publish.

There is no other way to do it.

I’ll take breaks from social media. I’ll avoid things this year. Events I shouldn’t have gone to last year, I’ll stay away from this year.

This year I have three projects in mind and a few others I’m thinking about.  I plan on writing to books and a couple of novellas as well as a bunch of short stories.

I wrote seven stories over the Christmas break and I’ll be going through all of them in the coming weeks. I have a story to submit by the end of the month and I’ll do that.

I have set deadlines this year for projects.

I know I’ll have to turn things off, shut people out, but I must do this. I have to focus on getting this done.

My son will graduate in two years and I want the both of us to go to Scotland for a trip after he graduates. Scotland is where my ancestry is. I feel there would be no better place for my son and I to spend some time together before he starts his life.

I will continue the blog.

Its definitely therapeutic.

I wrote some good posts last year and received quite a few new subscribers. But its about the content not the views.

Its nice to have people read what I write, but its better to produce good content. That’s what I’ll be doing with the blog.

Happy New Year and may you find what you’re looking for and what you need in the new year.

2020 and doing the hard things.

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This last year I pushed through a few issues.

I found my writing groove and I was distracted at times by video games.

But I didn’t do the hard things.

I didn’t publish because I was undecided and nervous about the quality of the book I planned on putting out.

I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t do that. I did it anyway.

I also had a few personal victories.

I pushed past the things I felt comfortable writing and wrote some truly freaky shit.

I sent out more queries than I ever have and I plan on doing the same in 2020.

I decided my writing and my time to write is worthy and needs devotion.

In 2020 I’ll make priorities for that time and not let others take it from me. My writing and editing time is me working even if I’m not currently published.

That will change and the mindset I have going into the new year changes too.

I will not be held back by things or people.

I will move forward, ignore and resist what others think of me and will never let people in who don’t understand those things.

I fought with a few demons, found a couple more and I’ll kill every last one of ’em until I’m where I believe I should be.

Go out and get it and take no prisoners.

This week feels difficult…

I don’t know whether it’s that I’m stressed and I won’t reach for a bottle or that I’m trying to immerse myself in the current project, but this week feels different. More difficult.

I’ve thought about this over the last week.

I started drafting on Thursday.

This week I’m fully invested in the project after doing the outline, character sketching, and all the other stuff it entails.

So, I’ve been sober for 1 month 25 days.

This is a full time thing. I don’t see myself drinking again.

I may bartend, but I’ll never drink alcohol again.

I used it as a crutch to deal with stress and life for so long it’s difficult to manage things without it.

Though I’m trying.

Finding darkness, embracing it, and keeping going.

I fell down a rabbit hole recently.

It wasn’t too deep but it got me to thinking about darkness and how I deal with it, hell, how any of us deal with it.

Let’s start earlier.

Since I was a little kid I’ve always liked scary things. I was a vampire almost every Halloween as a kid. When I wasn’t, I was a werewolf.

As I grew up, I watched a lot of horror movies.

I saw Halloween when I was eight, Children of the Corn at about the same age.

Then my sister introduced me to Hellraiser.

Those movies are my go to for anyone who wants to understand me.

Watch the first three and you’ll understand me a bit better. Read Barker’s book, “The Hellbound Heart” and you’ll understand me more.

That erotic, bloody, torturous movie and it’s sequels helped me to find myself.

Now that I’m 43, I think about what type of horror drives me.

It’s visceral. Dark. Dirty.

Sometimes it makes me take a step back. That’s when I know I have something good.

When what I put on the page scares me. Then I have something good.

Pushing the boundaries is what we do. Especially horror writers.

I remember an interview with Stephen King about Pet Semetery. He said that’s one of the books he thought he went too far in.

But can you imagine that book changed? It would mess it up. That book scared the hell out me.

There are so many books where I thought a writer went too far but I can’t imagine the story without those scenes.

I strive to be a good horror writer because I love the dark. I’ve always loved it. Watching a horror movie gives me more joy than almost anything except my wife and kids, though the goods ones eclipse them too.

Reading horror is new to me.

Growing up, my father restricted me to certain types of books. I’ve mentioned this before.

But I would still pick up a copy of Fangoria at the bookstore.

I could watch horror movies when I was a kid, but the books were off limits.

In the last few years I’ve tried catching up on some of the classics. There are a lot of them and I’ve had to be picky.

But a good horror book or movie will always be my favorite. I’d rather watch or read those than anything else.

It makes sense for me to write that stuff.

I love it and it will always be what keeps me going.

It’s better when you write what you enjoy.

For the longest time I’ve been trying to write a fantasy novel, but I never thought about why I’m writing it.

Yesterday I did.

I write fantasy because I felt it was expected of me, not because I enjoyed it.

I had a friend turn me on to Fantasy books when I worked in Vegas. It was a genre I never understood and one I never thought about reading.

It always seemed too complicated, too busy and of the 3 novels I’ve written in the genre none of them gave me pleasure in their writing.

I wrote them because it felt expected of me. For the same reason the first novel I wrote was a vampire story. It was expected of me.

I’ve gone back to that vampire story a few times. It’s awful, as first novels usually are, but the story idea is good and I may do something with it later.

The only stories that give me pleasure are horror stories.

There is something about scaring people.

I love the act of creating a story that not only scares the reader but is unsettling to myself as well.

Short fantasy stories are fine, little ones where the reader is following one person. Not the arching novels of Brandon Sanderson. I love to read those books, thanks to a friend, but writing them brings nothing but stress and frustration.

I’ll stick with horror. It’s what I always liked as a kid.

I’d find myself staying up when I’d go to my grandparents. Watching the late night scary movies that aired on HBO, or Tales From The Crypt. Those were some of my favorites.

I remember picking up a copy of Fangoria in the book store and staring at it.

People would stare at me, my own father wouldn’t buy them for me, but I’d sit and read them any chance I got.

The dark, the macabre, and the creepy runs deep in my blood and I enjoy writing those tales the most.

It’s better to write what you enjoy, rather than what someone expects of you.

I had a conversation about this with my mom a while ago. She told me, “I wondered why you wrote anything other than horror.”

Listen to your mom. She knows you best.

It’s what I’ll stick to from now on.

Happy Friday. Have a good weekend.