Month: September 2017 Page 1 of 2

Marketing bootstrap.

This marketing stuff gets a little easier.  As I try different things, as I get more feedback from readers, I’m starting to realize who my readers are and what they want.  Why me?  Why not Stephen King?  Or rather why me and Stephen King?

What they want tells me how to market (not that I’m good at it, but the instructions are there).  And it tells me what I write, even though it’s all over the place.

The people who just write cozies or stories about colonizing outer space or epic fantasy, they can start with their genre and extrapolate and define themselves from there.  Me, I tried to observe what was common across what I write, but it was too hard.  It wasn’t until people started talking to me about my books that it started to make sense.

Finding out what people like about your work: a bootstrap.

If you like this post, check out By Dawn’s Bloody Light, a cheesy ’80s horror novelette, which I’m not gonna pretend is as good as Stephen King, but at least follows the same tradition.

What do you have to say?

The loudest people in the room, the ones who dominate the conversation, aren’t the most interesting ones.  They mostly just have this trick of being animated while they talk.  Excited about what they have to say.  At great length and, often, volume.  Wit and charm help.  So does a sense of order in one’s storytelling.

But they often tell the same story, or variations of the same story, don’t they?

I’m trying to work out how much I’ve been telling the same story lately.  Or am I just waving my arms and raising my voice?

If you liked this post, check out the Haunted Book Bundle, 20 stories of that which creeps you out.


Your words are pointless…

Your words are pointless but don’t say them here.

Your actions are too small to make a difference, so why don’t you just give up?

Your protests are useless and will change nothing but we refuse to tolerate them.

You’re just doing this to make yourself sound more important than you really are.

And if you don’t stop it we’re going to threaten to kill you.  But don’t worry, ha-ha.  It doesn’t mean anything.

This might not be the kind of post you can really “like,” but if you appreciate the post, check out The Clockwork Alice, a tale of a woman who has to sort out a lifetime of lies…


Cheesy is when you have something that uses a lot of tropes, but there’s no twist on the tropes.  Cheesy-but-good is rereadable and rewatchable cheese.

Nothing wrong with cheesy per se.

But once you put a twist on it, you’re doing something on another level entirely.

If you liked this post, check out my cheesy ’80s horror novella, By Dawn’s Bloody Light.  There’s a twist, of course.

Bias is Like Smoking

Bias is like smoking.  Or rather it sets up shop on the same not-quite-conscious level as smoking.  A trigger occurs and the bias follows with a knee-jerk reaction.  It’s not a conscious intention, so it’s easy to justify.  It feels natural, part of the natural order of things–maybe not right, exactly, but that’s just the way it is.

It’s almost impossible to quit smoking.  And it’s definitely impossible to quit smoking when you won’t admit you’re addicted.  When you surround yourself with justifications. Everybody smokes at the bar.  I’ve had a stressful day.

The thing is, though: people are dying.

And you’re mocking them for protesting their own deaths.

Because of your stupid-ass addiction.

If you liked this post, please spend some time reading writers of color.  I just got done reading Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger and found it particularly moving.

But Me

But can’t you see I’m the me?  The only true me?  I’m the special one.  Any group to which I belong is automatically the special group.  In any situation which is black and white, the white side is the one that has built itself around me, because I’m the me.  I graciously admit when I’m wrong…but I’m never wrong, see, because I’m the me.

I don’t need to back up my argument with credible sources.  Can’t you see?  I’m the me.  I mean, I realize you’re not me, but how could you be so stupid as to think that, well, I’m not the one and only me?  The evidence is in my heart, and that’s what’s important.

Can’t you understand?  I’ve always been the me.  In every way.  And that means that everything that made me what I am today, that’s sacred.  There is no other way to see it other than as the good, the white, the just, the pure.  Don’t even try to tell me that times were different then or that we know more now than we did then so we have to do better.  It’s fine because I say so, and I’m the me.

Don’t talk to be about that shit.  It doesn’t matter because it’s not about me.

Anything that infringes on me is an injustice.

Anything that happens to you is just culling the herd for idiots.

(This is what it sounds like, by the way, when  you need to go off about “I don’t understand why…”  Nobody gives a crap, darlin’, because it ain’t about you.)

Enjoy this post?  Why not read my haunted house story, “Bad House Spirit.”  It’s a good read for a foul-tempered Monday…




The Scariest Idea in the World

I woke up in the middle of the night with this really great, really scary idea for a story.  I didn’t write it down.  I went back to sleep.

You know how it is when that usually happens.  You wake up and go, “Oh, crap.  I’ve completely forgotten that idea.  Why didn’t I write it down?”

This morning I woke up and remembered the idea…but it wasn’t scary.

I don’t know.  I might write it anyway.  Or I might write the story about how the idea became not scary and then turned out to get the writer killed or something.  Something meta.

But I was so disappointed this morning…

Outline is Destiny!

I’m not that interested in plot outlines that are driven by character development (Joseph Campbell, et al.).  In fact I don’t give a damn about how my characters change.

What I want to do is change the reader.

Creativity is…

…the art of splitting people into two groups and trying to be both of them.


  • WTF, dude, none of this makes any sense.
  • Character voice is good.
  • Lyrical, poetic.
  • Starts with a showy bit of action or witty dialogue that comes completely out of nowhere.
  • “But can’t you just get this?  Are you stupid?  I explain this on page 50…”


  • Stiff, wooden characters and speech.
  • Actually has some kind of sane overall structure.
  • Logical.
  • Starts by explaining the crap out of everything in the most laborious way possible, but manages to still be confusing.
  • “I’m just writing the movie in my head.  It’s not my fault that you’re bored.”


Unlikable Characters

Three ways to do it:

  • The character gets deeply humiliated right away.
  • Events surrounding the character are such that you immediately go, “That’s why X is so broken.”
  • The character is so deeply charming that you get over it.

You can also mix the three.

You can’t write a dull character who’s mildly unpleasant and expect the reader to buy that someone who merely isn’t all that bad is actually good, let alone interesting.  “Nice guys” in fiction, as in romance, need not apply.

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