Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review

The Physick Book Of Deliverance Dane
                Katherine Howe

I just finished reading this wonderful book by a first time author earlier this evening.  I loved it!

     The story follows Connie, a graduate student from Harvard University, researching Colonial history.  A dilapidated home, once owned by her grandmother in Marblehead, Massachusetts falls into her custody.  While there, she stumbles across an old Bible with a key that holds a small scroll with the name Deliverance Dane printed on it.
     So begins Connie's quest to find who this Deliverance Dane is and why her name was found in her grandmother's house.  She soon discovers that Deliverance Dane was one of the witches tried and hanged in Salem two hundred years ago for witchcraft.  Embarking on this journey into finding out more about the mystery woman, Connie soon begins to learn about herself.  When her boyfriend, Sam is suddenly overcome by seizures and forced to stay in a hospital bed, the hunt for Deliverance Dane's spell book becomes even more time sensitive.  

This is a great read if you love the conspiracy surrounding the women accused of witchcraft in Salem in the 1600's.   The book goes back and forth between Connie's life in the present and the unfolding events of Deliverance Dane's life in the 1600's.  And soon, you see how their lives start to parallel.

The Not So Creative Side Of Writing...

I'm learning that writing for a living doesn't always mean creating vivid characters and mind blowing plots and such, but it means hustling yourself as a one man business to get yourself noticed.  I'm not complaining about the success I've experienced in my two short years as a freelance writer.  I'm working for my favorite horror magazine and recently was published in a very prestigious horror magazine - Fangoria.  I'm also a writer for Animal Wellness magazine.  I've made amazing contacts through my horror writing at the magazine with my favorite actors and directors in the horror business.  But as I'm slowly starting to learn, sometimes the creative part of writing takes a backseat, to the search for a steady income - which allows us to support our habit of writing creatively.

Does anybody else share this grievance?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Barnes And Noble

I have a friend who works in Barnes and Noble, who I've known for 7 years.  At 80 years old, she's like another grandmother to me.  When she heard about my picture book "Jack's Dreams Come To Life" being published, she was ecstatic.  One day I asked her how I would go about trying to get it stocked in the store.  A few days later, she emailed me and said that she had already sold 5 books and that the distribution manager said that if she sold 12, he would buy 25 books from my publisher.  Well, she's now sold 15 and Barnes and Noble is buying 25 books to stock in the store. As some of you know, this is unheard of for self-publishers.  I may even be able to do a book signing!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Haunted By Your Own Stories and/or Characters

Does this ever happen to you?  I would love to dive into another short story, but I have one that is almost done, but I'm pushing myself to finish.  Not because I dislike, but because I need to MOVE ON!  

Does this ever happen to you?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Share your experiences

Writing is unlike most other professions, in that those who enter it, often have very different experiences rising to the top.  Some get there faster than others.

I've shared some of my experiences and grievances as a new writer just starting out in previous blogs.  Take a look at them and share your experiences on my blog.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interview With Author Steve Alten

     I recently had the privilege of interviewing author Steve Alten, whose latest book Meg: Hell's Aquarium hit bookstore shelves a few months ago.  Steve is a science fiction author best known for his Meg series, which revolves around the survival of the Carcharadon Megalodon, an 18 million year old prehistoric shark that became extinct in the Pleistocene era.

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.  How did you get into writing?

        I hated my job and needed a new career. I always felt I could write. 

  1. How did the idea come about to write a series based on Carcharodon Megalodon?

      In the summer of 1995, I read a TIME magazine article on the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, and hydrothermal vents, which support an entire eco-system. I married that info to Megalodon, which I read about as a teen. 

  1. How much research goes into writing for the Meg series and how much do you leave to your imagination?

     Lots of research. The MEG info is all factual; the imagination uses these visuals to scare the reader.

  1. You've done four books in the Meg series so far, with Hell's Aquarium being the latest.  How many more books will be in the series or do you know ahead of time?

      One more: MEG: Night Stalkers

  1. In Hell's Aquarium you introduced a new ancient species of sea predator - the Liopleurodon.  Do you plan on branching the series off with this new creature, continuing the adventures of Jonas Taylor and his son David?

      Not branching off, but MEG 5 will be a hunt for the escaped Liopleurodon.

        I've read there are plans to bring Meg to the big screen.  How far away are fans from seeing their favorite killer shark in theaters?  And will you be writing the screenplay?

      I wrote a new script, and we are finalizing financing for $150 million budget. Once we select a director, there will be an announcement.

 What is your writing process like?  How long does it take to finish a novel

      MEG novels take 6-8 months; the DOMAIN novels take 12-18 months.

            Check out Steve Alten's writing tips at 

Books in the Meg series include:

Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (1997)

The Trench  (1999)

Meg: Primal Waters (2004)

Meg: Hell's Aquarium (2009) 


Monday, August 17, 2009

Romero's Ranch Excerpt

     Running from the living room to the bedroom, I glance out the dirt-encrusted window and see ten of the living dead crossing the two-lane road.  An SUV cruises down the road, then, in a sudden movement, swerves to the left, hitting a zombie in the knees.  It flips up like a rag doll, hitting the windshield, before shattering its skull on the pavement.  The SUV careens out of control and rolls down the short embankment before landing on its hood in our field.

     As I stand with the palms of my hands pressed against the window, I witness two horrific events.  One the road crawls the zombie, whose legs have been ripped off; leaving a blood trail like a snail leaves a trail of slime.  The small group of zombies that I spotted earlier has now descended on the upturned vehicle.  Movement from inside the car tells me that the driver is still alive and trapped half in and half out of the car.  I turn away just those things start to claw and bite at the man's arms and face.

     Just as I talk myself into taking another look, a gangly kid's face slams against the window.  I scream and jump back, nearly dropping the gun in the process.  Even though his face is battered, I recognize him as Bobby Jones from my English Lit class.  He presses his face against the glass, weakly beating his fists against the window.  His sister Kristen, my best friend, shuffles up behind him.  Blood seeps from a ragged hole in her neck, staining her clothes red.  Her white, eyes meet mine and I swear I see a flicker of recognition cross her face, before she and Bobby move off in another direction.

     A sudden wave of panic grips me, as I remember the back door that doesn't close all the way anymore by the back bedroom.  I run as fast as I can, but realize I'm too late, when Bobby's outline can be seen behind the door.  His outstretched arms push against the rotted wood.

     I try shouldering the door against Bobby's body, but it's impossible because Kristen has added to the weight.  Starting to tire, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and count to three.  On three, I throw open the door, hop back and take aim.  I fire off one shot, hitting Bobby in the chest, but he doesn't go down.  Aiming a little higher, I nail him the head and he crumples to his knees.

     Kristen stumbles over her brother's body, whose blood covers her snarling face.  She manages to grab hold of my arm and I jerk it away, causing her to fall forward onto her elbows.  She doesn't even bother to try to stand up, but starts crawling towards me.  Feeling fresh tears brimming in my eyes, I start screaming out of fear and frustration.  Feeling my friend's cold hand wrap around my ankle, I lower the gun, resting the barrel against her tangled, blood-soaked mess of hair.

     Whispering, "I'm sorry, Kristen" I pull the trigger.

     Her head jolts back, taking her body with it.  I drop to my knees and let huge racking sobs overcome my body.  I stay like that for I don't know how long, crying into the palms of my hands.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Slave To The Money

I have to admit that I love my job as a writer and have made great advances in my short two years as a freelance writer and now picture book author.  But I am also very frustrated with my lack of funds which is very very little.  Though I have made some money, it's not enough for me to support myself on my own.  I have a great family behind me, I am very appreciative.  I've heard it takes a long time to start making money as a writer.  But I guess in the end, my advances in the industry in such a short time have far outweighed any monetary compensation.  I am honored and grateful to have worked with so many great editors and writers.

Share with me some of your struggles with writing when first starting out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Update On Picture Book

I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday and found out that I might be able to join their book fair and be one of the authors doing book signings.  If I'm too late for that, then they might be able to set me up for a book signing in the store itself.  My friend Pat Sellers has sold 6 copies already.  One while I was still in the store.

I have a bookstore in Truckee, Lake Tahoe that might want to stock my book and I'll my local bookstores around Napa, Vallejo and Benicia.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The next phase

I just decided to get started on another picture book manuscript.  This time I won't self-publish and I'll try to find an agent.  But the good news is that I might have the opportunity to do a book signing at my local Barnes & Nobles.  I have a great friend and supporter - Pat Sellers, who I've known for years.  I owe a lot to her.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Promotion's A Bitch

Like all first time authors, I'm beginning to learn that getting the word out there that I have book for sale is harder than I thought.  Even thought it's for sale on both and, it's selling the copies that I thought it would.

My next goal is to target small bookstores and beg them to stock my book.  I could be a little cynical, since I NEED MONEY!  I'm not expecting to make thousands or millions, but I would like enough to feel I accomplished something.

Oh well, keep writing I guess.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Series That I've Read and Loved

I was thinking the other day about all the books I've read in the past 29 years of my life and I realized that most of them happened to be series of books, rather than individual novels.

Series I've Read:
The Clan Of The Cave Bear series
The Vampire Chronicles
The Meg series by Steve Alten (currently reading the fourth installment - Hell's Aquarium)
Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series
Twilight series

Some individual books that I'm obsessed with are:
Ride The Wind
On The Road

And anything by Stephen King.  I love his short story collections.

I once read in his book On Writing that he reads 80 books a year, so that's what I've done is set that goal for myself.

My Guide To Outlining A Story

I learned how to outline stories in my screenwriting classes at the Academy Of Arts University in San Francisco.

First I start with a CHARACTER LIST - which lists every conceivable description about them: physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I write down every last detail that I can think of whether it's pertinent to the story or not.

Next I add my PLOT DESCRIPTIONS - which lists every known feature about the locations geographically.  

Then I write a PLOT SYNOPSIS (1-3 pages) detailing everything thing that happens in a nutshell.

And then comes my SCENE LISTS - where I list every single thing that happens in the story.  I have headers for ACTS 1,2,3.  

I can get a bit anal when it comes to plotting out stories before I write them, but that's because I need a specific guidelines before writing.  Otherwise I feel I'm writing blind.