Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Visions of Sandy Brown excerpt

Here is an excerpt from my novella "The Visions of Sandy Brown":

She could not focus on the lecture at all, for fear that the thing would return to possess her teacher once again. What was it? Whatever it was, it was cold. Just thinking about it gave her a chill. Calm down, Sandy. Just calm down. She tried to concentrate.  Overcome the distractions. Focus, girl.

And suddenly, she was face-to-face with the girl in front of her!


The other girl had turned around in her seat and was staring right at her.

Sandy had always thought of Becky as cute: she had dark, curly hair and soft childlike features. She had a willowy frame and spoke in a high pitch. But looking into her eyes, Sandy knew this was not Becky.

The petite girl bore down on her, with an uncharacteristic intensity. Almost as if something else inhabited her body. Her lips parted, and the voice that came out was not high-pitched, but deep, guttural and unnatural. “You have the sight.”
The cover for my ebook novella "The Visions of Sandy Brown." Now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Sixteen year old Sandy Brown is seeing things: her history class flooding; rows of desks that go on and on; a mysterious being who threatens her in various forms. She is about to learn the awful reality: that she and her friends are all in danger. Who is this entity that pursues her, wearing the face of the people she knows? Where does it come from? What does it want? When did high school become a fight for survival? Innocence will be lost, trust betrayed, and friendship put to the ultimate test. For when your soul is at stake, can you really believe the things you see?

Cover art by April M. Reign

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Serious fun

Writing is fun. Writing is hard work. These two statements are not contradictory. That which is worth doing is not easy and that which is easy is probably not worth doing. There is a satisfaction in accomplishment that can only be found when one has poured out both heart and soul.

Sometimes a story can vex you. Art is all about attention to detail and these things take great care to render correctly. However, it is only through painstaking efforts that one can reap the rewards of the finished product. Sloppiness leads to disappointment.

The enjoyment is in the achievement. Long periods of time spent focusing on all the many elements it takes to tell a tale, bear fruit when the work is finished and ready for the world to see. At this point, a true artist can relax. For they know, regardless of the response, they held nothing back.

It is fun to create worlds and to people them. Art imitates life, but tends to smooth the rough edges so that what is seen is less real than ideal. In such a place, the imagination can soar. The only limits are the boundaries of the page…

But mere enjoyment is not the artist’s goal: it is fulfillment. The desire is to bring the work to life! The satisfaction comes from making a living, breathing world. And then, you see what chaos the characters can stir up.

I love to write, and everything I love is treated with great care. One must toil to reach the lofty heights. There are times when the task seems insurmountable. But eventually, you claw your way to the top and stand in awe of where you stand.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Buried treasure

A friend of mine posted on this subject recently, and a wave of nostalgia came over me. Some stories are like buried treasure, just waiting to be unearthed. You may have set it aside a long time ago. Dust has accumulated and the work is lost to time. But the tale still holds a place in your heart.

I actually rediscovered my first major work many years later. I was a teenager when I wrote it, and was immediately struck by the youthful perspective. When I found it again, I was in my early thirties, so there had been a lot of changes in my writing since then.

Some might have considered the tale as juvenile: it was a horror story about a teenage boy who comes back from the dead to exact revenge. But there was a lot of heart in it, and I was determined to bring it to light. All the particulars would be the same, but I intended to infuse it with the depth characteristic of my later work.

I decided the story would need to be rewritten from the ground up. In pursuit of this goal, I took every scene and worked on it separately. In a sense, I had deemed that each one would be treated as its own story. I developed different feels and expanded some things while trimming others.

Even the characters got an overhaul. Each needed to be distinct and have their own story to tell in the brief time they had.  I made them deeper and more sympathetic than my younger self would have had patience for. But the energy was maintained.

And things started to click. I had exhumed the story and breathed life into it once more! It had become something altogether new: a hybrid tale born of youthful enthusiasm and adult introspection. I had found that which was lost. And when the printed copy was in my hands, I knew what I held was a precious treasure indeed.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Finishing strong

Wrapping up a story is difficult. You have so many threads and they all must come together in the end. There are so many characters, and they all need an acceptable outcome. Everything has been working towards the climax and it is finally here.

There is a level of sadness to finishing a work. The characters you have come to know and love will not be seen again… or at least not for some time. When written well, they become people you know, and there is a feeling of loss when you realize they will take their place on the shelf.

Also, there is anxiety, because the story will be judged by its ending. No matter what came before, if the reader is unsatisfied with the end, it sours them concerning the entire book. But you have been building to this point all along. So, hopefully, you are prepared.

In the completion of a work, there is a balance which must be achieved between expectations and reality. What the audience wants may not be best for the story. But be mindful to give them what they need.

It is a good idea to tie up the loose ends, as well. Not to do so, leaves too many questions in the reader’s mind.  Just as in a garment, people will tolerate a loose thread here or there. But if there are too many, they think about returning the merchandise.

In the end, it comes down to exceeding the expectations the audience was not even aware they had. This is your chance to impress, and you may get only one. Pull out the stops, spare no expense, hold nothing back. For now that you have come so far, it is important to finish strong.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hallowed excerpt

An excerpt from my story "The Golden City," part of the Hallowed collection:

And a voice spoke, “Senses for the senseless, Joey.”
Joe felt a chill go up his spine and the short hairs on the back of his neck prickled. That voice, rich but not deep. The tone was that of an announcer, but it was snarling in the background. Joe stared ahead, and gasped.
There was someone standing in the path!
All at once, Joe Thompson knew the voice had been no dream hallucination. The gnawing sensation in the pit of his stomach told him that.
Shining even in the shimmering mist, the chalk whiteness of the face contrasted with the darkness around the eyes and covering the mouth. And the sharp points of blackness extended beyond the lips like a smile. An ever-widening smile… “Come into my playroom, said the spider to the fly…”
Joe’s eyes went wide. “I want to go to another realm. Please?”
And the snarling sound grew louder. “Pleas? Do I hear pleas, Joey? Pleas of fear? Fear from the fearful? Oh, how sweet a sound… Ahh… Don’t you hear it? It’s the sound of pain…”
“You’re not real.”
“I’m as real as you, Joey. As real as the playroom.” The thing bowed its head. “You remember the playroom, don’t you?”
The cover for my e-book short story collection "Hallowed," now available on

Cloaked figures gather around a stone table, perusing ancient parchments. It is All Hallows’ Eve, and they have come to hear tales of great terror. How a ghostly seduction drives a man to madness. Another walks the world of dreams and must come to face his nightmares. A child braves the dark of night, seeking out the place of friendship lost. There is the tale of foul murder, frustrated by forces beyond the mortal ken. Finally, they will hear the story of a wicked man, who faces monstrous vengeance. What is sacred? And to what purpose do we dedicate our lives? For only through the shedding of blood, can we be truly clean…

Cover art by Paul Chapman

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Calm before the storm

People think the best part of the story is the climax. While that should be the place where everything culminates, it is in the calmer scenes leading up to this that the energy is built. If every scene was as exciting as that one, then the audience would be exhausted far before reaching it.

Quieter moments are great times for characterization. You learn about the people you are dealing with, what their thoughts and feelings are, and the wheels start turning. A tale takes time to build up speed, but once it does, it is like a freight train barreling through the night.

The shorter the story, the briefer these interludes will be. A longer work is more conducive to deeper characters, so there is a great deal of calm before the storm. And just like the interval between the thunder and lightning, these moments when properly spaced can steadily build the excitement to a fever pitch.

These are also good opportunities to subtly advance the plot. A myriad of things can creep about unnoticed until they are ready to strike. And when they do, there will be more impact, due to the element of surprise.

Works tend to be predictable when everything is loud and all the scenes are big. However, a reader will take on an expression of shock, if they realize that the monster has been sneaking up behind them the whole time. Or they find the plot which seemed so clear was just a diversion and the story takes unexpected twists and turns that have them clutching the arms of their chair to keep from falling out.

That is when the terror is greatest and the drama most intense. The reader has no idea where you are taking them, but the enticement is just too great to stop. They must know what happens next. They must reach the ending, bewildered though they may be. For after the calm, one experiences the true fury of the tempest.