Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

As many of you are aware, last October I announced that I would be releasing a new collection of short stories, Hannah and Other Stories, with BSC Publishing Group. Like my previous collection, The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones, these are all original and unpublished stories that have gone unread except for a few other people at this point. Unlike The Quiet Game, however, Hannah will be seven stories instead of five, and I have a professional editing team working with me to polish up the stories before they’re released.

It’s that editing process I’m here to talk about. As I mentioned in a previous post, BSC is sending me the notes for each story one at a time so that I’m not overwhelmed. I appreciate that, as the last time I was overwhelmed editing a book, I spent a good amount of time watching Sailor Moon on Blu-Ray while trying to quell my anxiety. And recently, they sent me the notes for the second story in the collection, Queen Alice, which they told me is their favorite story in the collection so far.

I started editing Queen Alice recently after several delays (you can guess one or two of the delays were). And there are a lot of notes from the editors.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m grateful that they’ve been so thorough, picking things up that I missed in all that editing and polishing I did last summer before submitting Hannah. However, it is a challenge. I’m seeing a lot of stuff that needs to be clarified or rewritten or cut out, and doing all that so the story turns out better than it was before can be tough at times.

I’m a little nervous about how things will go down the line, when it comes time to polish up What Errour Awoke. Great story in the Lovecraftian universe and it did help me with my anxieties regarding the COVID-19 pandemic when that first began, but I know there’s plenty there that’ll need to be worked on. Especially in the latter half!

Still, I’m working it. I’m taking it one page and one section at a time. And I’m already seeing vast improvement with Queen Alice. At the moment, the story is kind of like a Lovecraft story: great concept, but the writing needs work (thankfully no racism or xenophobia). My goal right now is to get the writing up to the same standard as the concept and the story that my editors fell in love with.

That way, when it gets to you guys, you won’t be disappointed by it, but thrilled. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be terrified.


Just a couple of quick notes, my Followers of Fear:

First, as you know, The Pure World Comes has been out five days. And so far, my Gothic horror novel about a maid in Victorian England going to work for a mad scientist has been doing pretty well. It’s not selling like a Stephen King novel (I wish), but it’s been selling steadily and people have been leaving positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. This has made me hopeful for the book’s future and I plan to continue letting people know about it so they’ll want to read it (including a more in-depth post on it in the near future).

If you would like to check out The Pure World Comes, I’ll leave links below, including to Goodreads. You can read what people are saying, decide whether to purchase a copy, and maybe, if you like what you read, leave me a review letting me and others know what you think. It would be a big help to me, and let me know just what you thought of the book.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads

Also, ParaPsyCon is one week from today! If you’re unfamiliar, this is an awesome gathering of ghost hunters, psychics, authors and more at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, one of the most haunted locations in America (and the filming location for Shawshank Redemption). If you want to stop by on May 21st and 22nd, please do! I’ll be selling signed copies of books, including TPWC, and entrance fee is just one ticket for a self-guided tour of the prison. Hope to see you there!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

You know, I meant to put out another post between this one and my last post about The Pure World Comes. But I couldn’t think of anything worth blogging about, so you get two posts about TPWC in a row. Lucky you!

Anyway, as you all are aware, my novel The Pure World Comes is finally available in paperback and ebook. The novel is set in Victorian England and follows a maid who goes to work at the estate of a mad scientist. The full description is below:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Not bad, right? And a lot of the early reviews have been really positive. In fact, at the time I’m writing this, TPWC has a rating of 4.5/5 on Goodreads based on four ratings and two reviews. Honestly, I thought people might like the book, but this response has been better than I expected, and I’m so happy!

Anyway, I hope you’re as excited to read this as I am for you to read it. This novel is a love letter to the Victorian period, both its glitz and glamour and gentility, and its darkness, violence and the possibility of death around every corner,* as well as the scary stories that came out during that time. I had a blast researching it over the years and then an even bigger blast just writing it, followed by editing it for publication.

If you’re interested in grabbing a copy, you can buy one through the links below. And if you do end up getting a copy, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader reviews and feedback, and your thoughts not only help me as a writer, but other readers as well.

And if you like TPWC, please consider checking out my other books. Who knows? You might enjoy reading those as well.

And if you’re the type of reader who prefers audio books, I am working on making that possible. I’ll keep you posted on any developments.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a big day coming up (first day back in the office after working from home for two years straight), but I’ll check in when I can. So, until next time, good night, happy reading, and pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo

*Seriously, everything and anything could kill you in the Victorian period. Coal dust, cleaning the chimney, the majority of makeups and beauty products, the clothes you wear, the color of your wallpaper. Even your food and water could kill you! Seriously, refrigeration didn’t really exist, they didn’t always throw out their food even after it had gone bad, and a lot of people got their water from the same sources where they dumped their poop. Not exactly sanitary.

And don’t think about going to your doctor. Not unless you wanted to be prescribed solution of lead or powerful opiates!

I know, technically it’s still available on the Readict app, but let’s face it. This is a bigger deal than that.

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that my novel The Pure World Comes will be releasing in one week on May 10th, and will be available in paperback and ebook. This Gothic horror novella is my love letter to the Victorian era of British history and follows a young maid who goes to work at the estate of a mad scientist. Here’s the description off the back of the book:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Sounds pretty cool, right? And it’ll be out in a week or so. I’m super excited. And with that cover, I think a lot of people are going to be interested. I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but many readers do just that, including authors like myself. This new cover for The Pure World Comes looks absolutely brilliant, so I’m hoping it’ll draw plenty of people in.

And yes, I’ve noticed that Iseult Murphy’s name is spelled wrong on the cover blurb. We’re working on getting that fixed before release date.

Anyway, I hope you all decide to check out and read The Pure World Comes when it releases on the tenth. I’ll include links below so you can get it from your preferred retailer. And if you do read the book, I do hope you’ll let me know what you thought of it. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback. And not only does it help me as a writer, but when you leave it on certain sites like Amazon or Goodreads, it lets other readers know whether the book is worth their time.

Oh, and if you’re more of an audio book person, I have good news: I am taking steps to produce an audio book of The Pure World Comes. It’s still too early to make any announcements like narrator or release date, but I am working on it. And as soon as it’s ready, I will let you all know.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m sure I’ll be checking in with you again before The Pure World Comes out next week. And until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo

As many of you know, last year I had a novel, The Pure World Comes, published on an app called Readict. The novel, a Gothic horror novel set in Victorian England, follows a young maid who goes to work at the estate of a mad scientist.

One year later, I’m excited to let you know that The Pure World Comes will be released in paperback and ebook on May 10th, 2022! Just 17 days from the time I’m writing!

I can’t wait to hear what you all think of the book now that it’s coming out in formats that are more accessible to readers. Those who read it on the app said it was really good. One or two people even said that one scene made the toilet scary! Now that’s an accomplishment!

By the way, I read that scene at an event back in October. It was so awkward and hilarious and I actually got compliments on portraying going to the bathroom from a woman’s point-of-view. Now that’s an even bigger accomplishment, if you ask me!

Anyway, let’s talk about The Pure World Comes. First, here’s the new cover.

You like? This cover was created by the artists at Rooster Republic Press, who also did the cover art for my short story Agoraphobia. They do some amazing work, and it shows in this latest cover by them. Not only did they bring the Hunting Lodge, the main setting of the story, to life with such brilliant art, but they also included sacred geometry in the illustration of the moon, which works well with the themes and plot of this novel.

Plus, it reminds me of some really amazing art covers I’ve seen, like the Charlie Bone books I read as a kid, with hints of that one cover for We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Those are really eye-catching covers, so I hope that applies to this one.

As to how to get a copy, you can preorder from a variety of sites, especially Barnes & Noble and other sites. Not Amazon just yet. I’m using a different printing service than KDP Amazon, so Amazon’s being annoying by not allowing you to preorder through them. You have to wait till May 10th to get through them (unless they take their time approving them. Which I totally expect them to do). But all the other sites? Yeah, already available for preorder.

Anyway, I hope you decide to check out the book. I’m really proud of The Pure World Comes and I can’t wait to see what you all make of it. Do you think it’s scary? Do you like the characters? Did I research the Victorian period well? And if you read the book, I hope you let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback. It helps me improve as a writer and gives readers an idea of whether or not the book is for them.

And if enough people read and like the book, it might lead to an audio book. I would be very proud if that happened.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to make sure the world knows about this new story. You can check it out by clicking on the links below. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

Kobo

Praise to the King in Yellow! I’ve got my first acceptance of the year! Even better, it’s a story I was having trouble finding a home for!

So, you’re probably all excited to hear what the story is about and when and where it’ll come out. “The Dedication of the High Priestess” is a story I first wrote back in winter after I got back from my vacation. The story follows a young ballet student named Anastasia “Annie” Hummel. She dreams of being a famous ballerina, and being selected as a model for a famous artist’s latest series of paintings seems like a great boost to her fledgling career. However, what actually happens is that Annie is awakened to her true destiny. A destiny that will change the course of her life, and the world. forever.

If you read my post about elevated horror the other day, you might realize from the description and my opening shout of praise that this is the ballerina-meets-the-King-in-Yellow story I mentioned. And yes, I realize it got accepted right after I mentioned trying to find it a home. Not sure if that counts as irony, but it is funny.

And if you’re wondering what this King in Yellow thing is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Sadly, I think The King in Yellow is even less well-known than HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos.* It’s a collection of short stories written in 1895 by Robert Chambers. Most (and the best) of the stories revolve not around the titular character, but around a play bearing the character’s name and which is said to be so twisted, reading the second act will drive you mad (or make you a servant of the King, depending on if you believe he’s a real entity).

The stories have proven influential, being beloved by Lovecraft and becoming partially integrated into the Cthulhu Mythos by later writers. If you would like to find out more, you can read my own blog post on the collection, which I wrote back when I first read the stories, or you can watch this awesome YouTube video on the collection. Or you can read the collection yourself, that’s a valid choice as well.

This is my copy of the collection. Seriously, you should check it out!

Anyway, my take on the stories and the character combines both elements from the collection, from what later writers have added, and adds ballet, because let’s face it, I’m a huge fan of ballet and I’m sad there aren’t more ballet-themed horror stories. As to how I use ballet in the story, you’ll have to wait till it’s out to discover that.

Speaking of which, “The Dedication of the High Priestess” will be published as an audio story by the horror podcast Tales to Terrify. This is a podcast where professional narrators read one or two short stories or short novelettes per episode, the goal of each story being to chill you silly. I listened to a couple of episodes a while back and thought it might be a good place for my story, so I sent it in. I’m so happy they agree.

As to when it comes out, all I can say at that point is that it’ll be some time in 2022. Yeah, that’s vague, but that’s just how it is sometimes. And anyway, the moment it is out, I’ll be sure to let you know so you can check it out yourself.

I want to thank Tales to Terrify for accepting my story and I can’t wait to hear what you guys do with it. I’m very proud of this one and I’m glad it was able to find an excellent home.

And that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got some other stuff cooking that I’ll be announcing soon, so keep an eye out for that. And I have dinner cooking, so I’ll keep an eye on that. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

*Which is a damn shame, because I think it’s better than Lovecraft in many ways, though I still like the stories the latter wrote.

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

I’ve heard this term thrown about a few times since January, first in the new Scream movie and most recently in an analysis of a horror film on YouTube. “Elevated horror.” And the speakers, whether in in the Scream movie or in the YouTube video, made it sound like it’s a recognized subgenre of horror with its own staple of tropes and trappings. Like slasher and its killers and gore, or Gothic with its ancient, diseased settings and corrupting influence.

The thing is, it isn’t. Elevated horror isn’t an actual subgenre of horror. I’ve consulted with dozens of writers on this (thank you, Twitter and the Horror Writers Association Facebook group) and it’s not a subgenre. It seems like a subgenre of horror at first glance when you look at works referred to elevated horror. In movies, films referred to as elevated horror include The Witch, Babadook, It Follows and Get Out, among others: they’re horror stories that focus more on probing psychological drama, characters and metaphor than blood and gore or supernatural horrors. Often, there’s a powerful social commentary being presented through the narrative, such as Get Out‘s commentary on race.

In terms of literature, “elevated horror” might have all of these as well as flowery language. It might be almost called “literary horror,” because there’s an emphasis on wording the story nicely and making it just too dark to be called “literary fiction.” Examples include The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, The Deep by Alma Katsu, and A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill.

And, most importantly, “elevated horror” can sometimes cross over into other genres, such as thriller, literary, or even comedy.

Can you really say The Witch and Get Out belong in the same subgenre?

Sounds like a subgenre, doesn’t it? But it’s not. The works called elevated horror are all as different from each other as roses are to tulips are to primulas. All flowers, but all different kinds of flowers. Let me explain: The King in Yellow and The Deep are cosmic horror mixed with deep psychological themes, The Witch is some cross between folk, religious and historical horror, and Get Out‘s searing satire makes it borderline horror-comedy. In fact, it was nominated at the Golden Globes under categories for comedies or musicals!

Yet all of them are given the designation of elevated horror. So, if it isn’t a subgenre, what is it?

The conclusion I’ve come to after speaking to numerous other writers is that elevated horror is actually horror films taking place in elevators.

Just kidding, that’s elevator horror, and the only example of that I can think of is 2010’s Devil.

No, “elevated horror” is a marketing term. And like all marketing terms, it’s directed towards a specific audience. Who is this target audience? It’s people who normally wouldn’t check out horror because they fear it’s low class, dangerous, or degenerate. They may want to check out horror or be curious, but the stigma still attached to the genre keeps them from doing so. Either that, or they won’t check it out unless a work is given a specific designation.

Calling something “elevated horror” is basically saying, “This isn’t like other horror stories, where half-naked teens are voyeuristically killed with tons of blood and gore, or where supernatural entities menace children in sewers. No, it has nuance and social commentary! There’s psychology and drama and fleshed out characters! You can be respectable while enjoying this!”

In other words, it’s another way of something is high-brow. “There are no explosions and superheroes here. No aliens or elves. No star-crossed lovers up against the odds. Only real people having real life situations, or real people in situations that are absurd but it’s okay, because it says something important about society.”

I almost wish it was a subgenre. I might have found a home for my ballerina-meets-the-King-in-Yellow story already (still working on that, give it time).

Pinhead may not be from an elevated franchise, but that doesn’t make him or Hellraiser any less awesome.

And the problem with this marketing term is it’s misleading. By calling certain movies or books “elevated horror,” it’s labeling all other horror as “trash,” or at the very least “common.” Either way, the designation puts other horror stories down. And that’s a shame, because there’s such good horror out there. Dark Harvest, Kill Creek and Salem’s Lot aren’t high brow, but they’re great stories that thrill and can leave their readers up late into the night. Same with The Thing or the Hellraiser franchise: they may never win Oscars, but goddamn are they scary, and the latter has led to one of the most memorable characters in the slasher genre.

I’m not trying to put down the term. I’m just saying we should understand what it means, both for works designated as such and those that aren’t. And if it lets you enjoy horror, great. Just make sure to check out works that aren’t “elevated” and whose creators don’t really think or care if their work is called that.

Personally, I can see some of my work being called elevated, but I’ll just say that I was trying to write a fun story and wanted others to enjoy it as well.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. After getting my thoughts on this topic out, I’m off to dream of beasties and ghosts. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

So, I was hoping to have some big news on at least one project by now, but…well, you know what they say. Man plans, God laughs. Or maybe it’s Rami plans, the entities foolish enough to be my enemies get in my way. I don’t know.

Anyway, I thought I would just do an update on the many projects I’m working on, as I don’t know when I’ll have any big news on any one of them. And at the very least, it’ll let you know where I’m at with things and with life in general.

Hannah and Other Stories

As many of you know, I have a collection of seven original short stories being released by BSC Publishing Group. And as I mentioned in my post on mental health during the publishing process, BSC is sending stories one at a time with editing notes so I don’t feel overwhelmed with the amount of work I have. Understandable, considering that at least two of those stories are actually novellas.

Anyway, right now I’m just waiting on the next story with edits, which will hopefully come soon. Once it does, I’ll start work on it immediately so I can get back to waiting for the next story again. I’ll keep you posted.

The Pure World Comes

My Victorian Gothic horror novel and love letter to Victorian England, The Pure World Comes follows Shirley Dobbins, a maid living in Victorian England who goes to work for a mad scientist after the deaths of her employers. It was published last year on an app, but now it’s going to be published as an ebook and paperback so that more people can access and read it. At the moment, I’m just waiting on the new cover. Once I have that, I’ll be able to start on the process that will eventually end in putting it online, selecting a release date, and making it available for preorder. Hopefully we can start on all that by the end of the month.

As for an audio version…well, that will depend on a few things, including how well the book does in paperback and ebook. If it does happen, I’ll be over the moon. If it doesn’t, it’s sad but hey, sometimes those are the breaks.

That Which Cannot Be Undone

As many of you know, some of my fellow Ohio horror authors and I formed a small press with the goal of releasing an anthology of Ohio-based horror stories, That Which Cannot Be Undone. At the time of writing this, we have most of the stories from the contributors and the editor is going over them with a fine-toothed comb. My friends and I are also regularly meeting and making sure we stay on time for our October release while also producing one hell of an anthology. We can’t wait for you to read what we’ve created.

Other Novels

Crawler: I know some of you were really excited when I said I was going to write a mummy novel. Those same people were saddened when I put plans to write that on hold due to Hannah being accepted and wanting to focus more on that. That being said, I think I might be able to start working on it later this year. Still a lot of things up in the air, but if nothing else gets in the way, I could start on it before autumn. If I do, I’ll let you know.

Toyland: Still plan to get this bizarre Gothic ghost story published. I’ll probably give it another round of editing before I submit it anywhere, though. It’s a complex story with lots of moving parts, so I want to make sure everything holds up before I let anyone else read it.

River of Wrath: unfortunately, I think I need to put this in the proverbial trunk. I’m saddened, since I still like this story and I had a hell of a time writing it (and for those of you who know what it’s about, pun totally intended). But I’ve had a lot of time to think regarding this novel as I’ve sent it from place to place to place, and I’ve come to realize that, as much as I love the novel, it does not reflect my best work and I don’t think, even if I made changes, it would be that much better. Hell, it might not even be the original novel I set out to write when all is said and done. (Again, pun totally intended.)

So, it hurts, but in the trunk it goes. At least the lessons it gave me will always be with me. And I now know more about Dante’s Inferno than I ever thought possible. Never a bad thing.

Shorter Works

Over the past several months, I’ve been writing a bunch of shorter works. Right now, I’m up to one novella, four novelettes, and three short stories. And yesterday, I started what will probably be a second novella. I like to think they’re all spectacular, though some of them definitely need more work. Anyway, once I’m done with this current project, I’ll spend time polishing them and trying to find homes for these stories before I do anything else that’s new (and that includes Crawler). Hope you get to read them soon!

Anything Else?

Well, there is, but not anything worth writing a paragraph about. At least, not yet. Hopefully I can tell you all about some of the things developing in my life in the near future.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m going to bed. In the meantime, thanks for your continued support of my writing career (and for even reading my books every now and then). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley, Ohio.

Been meaning to write this post for about a week now, but life got busy and there was never a good time. Don’t you just hate it when that happens.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on short stories in-between edits on Hannah. Or shorter stories, seeing as some of them are novelette or novella length stories. Might work on a novel if the itch gets really strong, though I’m not sure if I’ll edit Toyland again or finally start on Crawler. But for this particular story, which I’m guessing will be a novella, I had a particular location in Columbus that I wanted to check out as a basis for the setting.

I’ve been to the Jeffrey Mansion many times when younger. I used to live a few minutes away from it and sometimes would play on the playground or walk the woods on the property. But I had never been inside before and had never heard of it being potentially haunted.

Then I discovered this video:

I thought since it was so close and easily accessible, and since I had a story in mind taking place in a similar location, I thought I would go and see it. Sadly, I didn’t find any evidence of hauntings. Just a weird moment when, in the library, the camera app on my phone started acting weird and wouldn’t work again until I left the room again. That being said, I could only access the first floor and basement, as the upper floors were reserved and off-limits to visitors. Also, it was daytime, so I couldn’t do a proper investigation. Perhaps the mansion is haunted and there are spooky things just waiting to be found.

Probably not the woman in white or the hanging man spirit from the video, however. The former is likely kids being afraid of the then-living janitor of the premises, and the original owner died in a hospital in the 1960s, so it’s unlikely he’s the hanging ghost if there is one.

But that’s not the point. The point is, I don’t get to stop by actual locations for research for stories that often. Sure, I’ve been to locations and used them as the basis for stories later on, but never to a location with a story already in mind. Going there, walking the grounds and taking photos of the lower two floors, my mind was moving at a thousand miles an hour and thinking up all sorts of great details for the story.

In the garden room: “This would probably double as a ballroom for parties. Oh, and this room will be an important location for the story. That will be in here.”

The tiny staircase hidden in the garden wall: “Ooh, I wonder if I could make use of this somehow. Maybe as a location to meet?”

The dance studio: “Didn’t know this was down here. But it works for me. Some of my characters are dancers, after all.”

It’s just insane how much of a boon my imagination got from coming here. It really helped me develop plot points and the location my story would take place in, right down to the location’s history and what would happen in which rooms. If I ever get a chance, I would like to go to another location for a specific story in mind, just to see what would happen to my brain and to the story. Who knows? Doing so might help me create my best work yet.

Anyway, that’s all for now, My Followers of Fear. Next up for me is to do some edits for the short story I’m using for That Which Cannot Be Undone (that’s still coming along wonderfully) and then, if there are no new edits for Hannah, I’ll get started on this new story. And, of course, I’ll let you guys know if anything exciting comes up.

In the meantime, enjoy more photos of Jeffrey Mansion. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

First photo of the mansion. Beautiful Jacobethan structure. I would love to do a full paranormal investigation there or see it used in a movie based off my work.
Side view of the mansion. Kids at the preschool get picked up there, though I imagine it was used to drop off important guests once upon a time.
Close up of the mansion’s entrance. It’s pretty striking.
Back of the mansion. It looks like it could be a movie set someday. I know plenty of kids like to use them while playing on the playground nearby.
Back of the carriage court. Back in the day, it was where the owners stored their carriages and cars. Now, it’s used as event space.

You know, many great stories were originally published in serialized form. From Charles Dickens’ many novels to the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and HP Lovecraft, many writers we still read today had stories serialized in newspapers and magazines.

I’m not saying that “Blood and Paper Skin” is one of those great stories, but I do think it’s cool that it’s not only been serialized, but that the last part is now available.

So, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, “Blood and Paper Skin” is a novelette I wrote some time ago about a bunch of teens and college students who go out to get drugs, only to be taken captive and held in a strange prison-like room. The story has been serialized by The Dark Sire literary journal, a quarterly journal that specializes in horror and dark speculative fiction and poetry. And they also do serializations of longer stories, such as “Blood and Paper Skin.”

I’m very happy that TDS has released the final part of the story, especially this is the publication’s last print issue (they’re moving entirely to e-book after this issue). It’s a story I didn’t think would find a home, so I was glad it did and that the team behind that home loved the story. Every time I talked to them, they praised it and said they got so much feedback from readers who love “Blood and Paper Skin.”

Anyway, if you would like to check out “Blood and Paper Skin,” I’ll include the links for all issues of The Dark Sire where the story appears, starting from the most recent. And if you would like what you read, either of “Blood and Paper Skin” or The Dark Sire, please make sure to leave reviews and check out our other work. We both work really hard to deliver to you the best stories, so we hope you continue to check them out and let us know what you think.

Anyway, I’ve got a new story rattling around in my wacky head, so I’m going to start outlining. If you need me, you know where to find me. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

The Dark Sire Issue 10 (“Blood and Paper Skin” Part 3): https://tinyurl.com/2p99ahfm

The Dark Sire Issue 9 (“Blood and Paper Skin” Part 2): https://tinyurl.com/4cdnkevt

The Dark Sire Issue 8 (“Blood and Paper Skin” Part 1): https://tinyurl.com/ya6r77ww

The editing process can take a toll on authors’ mental health, no matter their experience.

As I’ve mentioned more than once (especially during the past few weeks), the publishing process for Rose was something of a roller coaster for me. At least, it was on the mental health scene. There were days and weeks I was feeling on top of the world, and then there were weeks where I was freaking out and wondering how the hell I would ever get this novel into a state fit for publishing.

It’s been nearly three years since Rose was released, and I’m older, wiser, and I want to say calmer. However, I know that roller coaster could start up again during the editing process of Hannah and Other Stories, so I’m writing this post. Both as a reminder to myself, and to help anyone who might go through something similar with their own upcoming books.

Here’s are some tips for getting through the editing of publishing of your upcoming book and the mental health rollercoaster that it is.

First off, remember that this is natural. There’s nothing wrong with you, you shouldn’t be expected to stay happy because you’ve got a book coming out (whether it’s your first or your 247th), and every author goes through difficult periods in life. We have human brains, and those brains, while being the most advanced supercomputers on Earth, have some quirks built in. Our neurochemicals don’t always act naturally, and life can upset those chemicals as much as genetics. So if you’re having a bad period, don’t heap further stress on yourself by being upset with yourself. Just remember that this will pass and good periods will happen as well.

Our brains. Great supercomputers, but they aren’t perfect. So these feelings are natural.

That being said, if your feelings become too much or last for prolonged periods, consult a licensed doctor/psychiatrist/therapist. They may be able to help you with medication, the talking cure, and strategies for coping with those wacky neurochemicals.

And that brings me to my next point: have a support network and coping methods in place if you can. I know everyone’s circumstances are different, but it really helps to have someone to talk to or multiple people who can come together when you’re feeling down. Having those people who will stand by you and help take your mind off of the craziness of the publishing process can make things all the more bearable.

Not to mention those coping strategies. Taking some time for self-care when you need it improves things immensely. I already have Sailor Moon DVDs awaiting me in my room and ice cream in the fridge. Those are my comfort foods and anime, and they got me through more than a few crazy nights. Not to mention that methods such as hypnosis and meditation, going for a run or dancing, a nice drive, a good book and so many other things, can really help when your mental health starts to spiral.

That being said, certain coping mechanisms should only be done sparingly. For example, I tend to eat more sugary foods and drink alcohol when I’m under stress. Not the healthiest way to deal with my feelings, so I have to be careful not to do it too much.

Okay, now that we’ve gone over the self-care stuff, here are some practical tips when it comes to the editing and publishing of the book:

  • Edit in chunks or manageable blocks. This is something BSC Publishing Group, which is publishing Hannah, is doing with their clients. Rather than sending notes for the entire book all at once, they send notes for a few chapters or a single story at a time. That way, neither author nor editor is overwhelmed by the process and it feels more collaborative.
    I kind of like it, as it means I have less of a giant workload to get through, and I can work on other projects in-between chapters. And if you like it, maybe talk to your editor or publisher to see if you can do something similar.
  • Expect big gaps without activity. You know how you have to wait several weeks or months to hear if a short story is accepted or rejected by a publisher? It’s even worse with a book. Case in point, three months would often go by between submission of a new draft of Rose and getting new notes. And the time between acceptance of Hannah and the first round of notes was about six months.
    So no, you didn’t do anything wrong. And no, the publisher isn’t ignoring you. They’re just juggling a lot of projects, and they have to devote time to all of them.
  • Approach each issue/suggestion individually. Finding out your stories has issues, such as a plot hole or a character that doesn’t make sense, or a scene that doesn’t work like you thought it would, can seem insurmountable. Just know that every novel and collection has issues that need work on, including great ones. For Rose (which I like to think is great), after I got my anxiety under control, I went after each problem individually. First I handled the main problem with the antagonist, then the issue presented with the amnesia, and then the monumental problem with the flashbacks, which led to two-thirds of the book getting rewritten.
    Hopefully that won’t happen to you (though on the plus side, it did rid the book of some problems later in the draft). But taking it one problem at a time does yield results over trying to tackle, and agonizing over, all of them at once.
  • Remember, the publisher believes in your book enough to publish it. Sometimes, editing the book and guessing what people will think of it, we tend to doubt our own abilities. But remember this: the publisher believes your book is not only good, but it’s good enough that it’ll sell copies and they won’t take a loss on it. And that’s in an unedited state with issues!
    So if you could write something that good in that state, you’re more than capable of getting it up to scratch for publication. Just keep reminding yourself that and it might boost your spirits a bit.
  • Finally, keep reading and writing. During the quiet periods in-between drafts or before you go to bed. When you’re wondering how to tackle a problem with your book or when you’re just looking for some down time. When inspiration strikes you or when the new book by your favorite author comes out. Just keep reading and writing. Do it because you love it. Because it’s nice to get lost in imaginary worlds with imaginary problems and imaginary people. Because it’s relaxing and a great way to let the problems of the world slip away.
    Plus you occasionally get insights from the stories of others to improve your own stories. But that’s not important. It’s important to just sit down and enjoy these activities, because they’re what got you into the storytelling business in the first place and have led you here. And they will lead you onwards from here too.
Rose had plenty of issues before publication, and Hannah still has its share. Still, the publishers for both believe/believed in them to publish them, and that’s an important thing to keep in mind.

Well, those are my thoughts on mental health and the publishing process. I’d include some stuff on marketing, but then we’d be here all night. Anyway, I hope you found these tips helpful. If you think of anything I missed, feel free to put it in the comments. And if you have a book you’re working to get up to snuff for publishing, I wish you the best of luck. You’re in the middle of a tough journey, but you can get through it. And if you managed to get through the trials of writing and editing the book in the first place, you can get through the trials of getting it in shape for the publisher.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares.