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.

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.