Posts Tagged ‘progress report’

I think this fits the theme of the post very well, don’t you? Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

In my last post, I mentioned that I would soon be tackling editing River of Wrath and The Pure World Comes, two novels that each have gone through some edits and which I would like to try submitting this year. As promised, I have started editing River of Wrath, which is about one of the nine circles of Hell appearing in a small town in 1960s Mississippi (you can guess what sort of themes are included with that description).

And so far, the biggest obstacle I’m dealing with is my narrator’s voice.

For a bit of background, my narrator, Audrey Falley, is writing down her experiences as she remembers them. She’s a character I thoroughly enjoy. She’s an Army wife in the 1960s, but she’s not demure like you would expect from that sort of character in that time period. She’s brash, street smart, she admits she drinks, swears, and has sex with her husband. In other words, she’s unladylike, and proud of it, and I tried to make that show in how she tells her story.

Which is challenging. In addition to all that above, Audrey is also not your typical narrator. By which I mean, this is her first time really telling a story, as her life hasn’t had many opportunities for her to practice creative writing. She also breaks the fourth wall a lot in a way Deadpool might approve, pointing out things about her word choice and how at certain times she sounds like she’s writing a romance novel.

And yet she’s very much aware what sort of story she’s telling.

And here I am, on the computer, trying to tell this story through this character’s unique perspective, while also balancing that perspective with the needs and tone of the story. Not only that, but I have to make the language used sound both like they were written by Audrey and by me, a writer who has a few published books and stories under his belt. And I have to ensure it reads like a horror story.

All told, it’s a bit of a juggling act. And I’m feeling the struggle. There are plenty of points where I’ve wondered to myself, “Does this sound good? Or does it sound totally amateur-ish?” It can affect how I look at the project at times.

That being said, there are moments where I look at the changes I’ve made and I’m like, “Yeah, I got this.” I had one of those moments when I was editing the scene the novel goes from period piece with strong romantic overtones to full-on horror story. Here’s the passage in the previous draft:

Before either of us could answer, there was a scream from the edge of the park. It was followed by several other screams, not just women, but men and children. Dogs barked, and birds flew into the air and away from the park entrance. Around the park, and in Little Angola as well, people stopped what they were doing, stood up if they were sitting down, and looked in the direction of the screams.

And then there’s the section from the current draft (asterisks are to prevent spoilers):

From the edge of the park came a woman’s scream.

Everyone, including Gordon and me, froze before turning in the direction of the scream, which was the same direction we’d come from. We could hear more people screaming, not just women, but men and children too. And that wasn’t all: dogs were barking, birds were flying in every direction, and everyone in the park, from the folks in ********, to the families at their picnic benches, to the children on the playsets, and to the couples in the flower garden, stiffened.

Later on, it occurred to me that we were all feeling the same thing. We weren’t just afraid. We were dreading whatever was causing those people to scream and making the animals go crazy. We dreaded it in our very bones.

Busy editing. Hopefully by the time I’m done, this novel will look a whole lot better and I’ll have a better idea if it’s ready to be submitted anywhere.

How was that? It’s not perfect, but it is better written than the previous version. Feels more like something you might read in a professionally-published horror novel. And that difference really made me feel like I could balance all those things I mentioned above. I don’t know if by the end of the draft, the novel will be ready to submit to publishers as I’d hoped, but if the new passage is anything to go by, I’ll at least get a bit closer.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I think, as the draft continues, I’ll hopefully not only get a better idea of where the story is in its development, but maybe even be able to go back to the beginning and do a better job of polishing up the story. We’ll see what the rest of the draft holds.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check in again soon, though I’m not sure when or what I’ll be talking about. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

This morning, I checked my memories on Facebook, and what popped up in 2018? No, not an embarrassing photo from that year’s Purim celebration. I killed the person who took the photo and destroyed their phone’s SIM card before they could post it. No, it was the announcement that my novel Rose had been accepted by Castrum Press, a publishing company based out of Belfast, North Ireland.

And over the course of today, it just kept hitting me. Three years. Three whole years. It felt like so much longer (and not just because of the mess that was 2020). And given all that happened with the book over those three years, it only feels right to blog about it.

So if you’re unfamiliar, Rose is a novel I first wrote as my college thesis and which later became my first novel published with a publisher. The story is a Kafkaesque fantasy-horror tale about a young woman who wakes up with no memory of the past two years. She then finds herself transfigured into a plant/human hybrid by ancient magic, setting her on a path of no return.

As I said, a lot happened with Rose in the three years since Castrum Press accepted the novel. The novel itself went through a heavy editing and rewriting process that lasted about fifteen months, from March 2018 to June 2019 when the book was released. Characters were changed or written out, plot points were added and pulled out, and at one point two-thirds of the book needed to be thrown out and rewritten. Yeah, that happened. Word of advice, don’t add flashback scenes that have nothing to do with the main plot of the story, let alone make one-third of the book flashbacks and the other third somewhat dependent on the flashbacks.

But it was worth it. The book came out soon after my twenty-sixth birthday, and people started reading it. Soon, I had some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and they kept growing. In August, I had a reading at Brothers Drake, a local bar and meadery, or distiller of honeywine. In December, the audio book released, narrated by the incomparable Sarah Parlier, who made chills go up my back with her narration. 2020 came in, and the book continued to do somewhat well. I wasn’t making Stephen King money, but I was doing okay for an author of my skill and reach.

Honestly, though, the fact that anyone’s reading Rose at all, especially with so much good horror out there, is incredible. Yeah, people enjoy it, but I had to do a lot of plugging over the course of these three years to get people interested, let alone willing to read it. That’s part of the author lot, truth be told: you gotta do a ton of work to let people know your book is available. No one’s going to do it for you, at least not without compensation.

Well, I’m not complaining. All the work has paid off. More and more people are reading Rose, and are leaving reviews. I just got a new four star review today from an author I know through Twitter, which made my day. It makes me happy. And I’m hoping, with continued work, some devoted fans, and a few conventions/author events, Rose will continue to do well.

If you would be interested in reading Rose, I’ll leave links below for you to check out. And if you end up reading it, I hope you’ll take the time to let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it not only helps me, but your fellow readers in the long run.

That’s all for now. I’m off to enjoy the weekend. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, Shabbat Shalom, have a great weekend, and pleasant nightmares!

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Are you all annoyed with me yet? Or is this sort of promotion just expected from me at this point?

So, if you were unaware before, my short story “Agoraphobia” is releasing this month. Specifically, it’ll be releasing two weeks from today on Tuesday, March 16th. The story follows a man with severe anxiety and agoraphobia who has to face the prospect of leaving his home for the first time in hears due to a hurricane bearing down on his area. As you can probably guess, things don’t go exactly as planned.

Anyway, the story will be available for ebook purchase from Amazon, and the physical version will be available as a chapbook at events where I will be a vendor. (Click here to see what events I’ll be attending in the near future. Click here to find out what the hell a chapbook is supposed to be). And if you’re at all interested in reading it or in supporting me, you can preorder a copy now. The story is only 99 cents (or British and Canadian equivalents) and it would make me very happy if you decided to get a copy.

And if you do download the story (or buy it at a future event), I would be very happy if you left a review somewhere. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and your input not only helps me out in the long run, but helps other readers decide whether or not the story is worth their time. Between people actually reading the story and word of mouth, it’s one of the most important ways you can help an author out. At least one whose name isn’t Stephen King or Anne Rice or something.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be leaving the links for “Agoraphobia” down below, as well as my other works. Hey, you never know. One of those stories may appeal to you as well. Perhaps my fantasy-horror story Rose; or my serial killer thriller-horror Snake; The Quiet Game, my debut collection of short stories; or maybe my Arthurian fantasy/sci-fi mashup “Mother of the King.” Either way, I leave it in your hands.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia:Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quite Game: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Cover illustration of “Agoraphobia” by Don Noble and Rooster Republic Press

You know what one of the good things about February is? It’s easier to figure out what day something is in March and how far away it is by what the corresponding day is in February.

As many of you know, I’m releasing some of my shorter stories as e-book exclusives with the print versions only available as chapbooks at events (click here to find out what a chapbook is. Click here to here about future events I’m attending this year). Why? Because I’m constantly trying new things to expand my audience, and this is just one of them. Anyway, another one of my stories is coming out next month on March 16th. Which, as you might have noticed, is exactly a month away!

See? It’s the corresponding day in February. Works out wonderfully.

The story in question, “Agoraphobia,” is about a man with severe anxiety and agoraphobia who is forced to leave his home when a hurricane bears down on his area. Considering how anxious and agoraphobic people are during this pandemic, I think they’ll sympathize with the main character. I even based his anxiety feelings on my own feelings of anxiety, so I hope those parts will speak to readers.

Anyway, the story is available for preorder now from Amazon. I’ll leave the links below for you Followers of Fear to check out. And if you do end up reading the story, let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me out in the long run.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have work today, so I’m going to get on it. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Happy February! How are you? Did you survive January? How’s 2021 treating you so far? How many fingers am I holding up?

Okay, enough of that. As you can see from the title, it’s been exactly two months since I published my short story “Mother of the King.” Given that milestone, I figured it was time to do another post about it. (I would have done a post marking the one-month mark, but that was also New Year’s Day. Didn’t think it was worth the bother)

So, if you’re unaware, “Mother of the King” is a fantasy/science fiction story centering around King Arthur, and the first story in a little side project of mine I’m calling “the New Arthur Universe.” The story is about the fabled return of King Arthur, told from the recollections of his mother. It’s a different take on the Once and Future King.

I actually planned for this to be a one-off story. I was like, “I just dove down the rabbit hole of Arthurian legend and came back with this one story idea. Let’s write it and see where it goes.” However, the response from readers was that they wanted more. And I was like, “Sure, why not?” So I’ve been thinking of ways to further expand the story and the universe of “Mother of the King.”

In fact, I’m working on a new story in the “New Arthur Universe.” It’s still early stages, but I hope I can put out a new short story or novelette at some point this year.

But enough about that. If you’re interested in checking out “Mother of the King” and supporting this new venture of mine, I’ll leave links below. You can read what other people are saying and maybe purchase a copy yourself. This is an ebook exclusive, with print copies only available at events as chapbooks (click here to see what events I’m currently scheduled to attend in 2021). And if you do end up downloading or buying a copy, please let me know what you think in a review. Positive or negative, I love reader reviews, and they help me out in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a full day of work ahead of me, followed either by some writing or a movie night. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Back in November, I announced that I was going to release some of my short stories as e-book exclusives, with print versions available as chapbooks at events (click here to find out what a chapbook is, and click here what events I’ll be attending in 2021). At the beginning of December, I released the first of these stories, an Arthurian fantasy called “Mother of the King” (links below). That did very well and got good feedback. And based on that feedback, I’ve decided to tell further stories in that world.

While those are still gestating in my imagination, however, I still plan to release a few short stories over the course of the year as e-books. And, if the title of this post didn’t clue you in, I’ve decided on which story will be getting the e-treatment: “Agoraphobia,” which follows a man with severe agoraphobia and anxiety trapped in his home during a hurricane. And there’s something in his home with him.

I chose this story because I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from beta readers on the language and portrayal of anxiety. I also think, since this is more horror than “Mother of the King” was, more people will show an interest in it and want to download it. And of all the stories I’m considering for e-release, it’s the most edited, so that’s helpful.

Before I set a release date, however, I’m going to go through this story one more time and see if I can’t fix up any typos or whatever. I’ve recently learned how to do that thing where Microsoft Word reads your document to you, so I’m looking forward to using that as an editing tool. After I’ve gone through and cleaned it up as much as possible, I’m going to commission an artist to make a cover, as I feel that there aren’t any stock photos or covers I could use like I did with “Mother of the King.”

After all that, then I’ll set a release date, let you all know, and get the ball rolling on that marketing machine of mine. I hope you’re as excited as I am for me to get this story out there.

In the meantime, I’ve got some other stories available if you want to check them out. My other e-release, “Mother of the King,” is available, of course, but so are my fantasy-horror novel “Rose;” my serial killer-thriller “Snake;” and my collection of short stories, “The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones.” I’ll leave the links below if you want to check them out. And if you do end up reading them, please leave a review or let me know some other way what you thought. Positive or negative, I love your feedback, and they help me and other readers in the long run.

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

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon CAN, Amazon UK

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

.

I think I’ve mentioned how busy I am lately. But things have kind of calmed down a bit, so unless I hear back from a beta reader, figure out how best to edit this story I’m working on, or am lucky enough to get a story accepted somewhere, I know what I’m working on next.

You may recall back in the spring, I started writing what I thought would be a novella, but ended up being a full blown novel. This novel, The Pure World Comes, follows a maid in the Victorian era who goes to work at the manor of a mysterious nobleman, only to find mysterious and terrifying events occurring there. I haven’t touched it since then, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it and how to improve it. And now feels like a good time to get to work on a second draft.

As such, I’ve been prepping to journey back to Queen Victoria’s reign. I’ve been listening to audio books and watching movies and TV shows in that era to get that flowery, polite way of speaking down. I’ve been learning new bits of information, such as etiquette and dating advice (yes, the Victorians had dating advice). And I’ve been reviewing what I already know. After all, this isn’t just Gothic horror (or is it Gothic horror/gaslamp fantasy?) I’m working on. This is historical fiction! And historical fiction requires a lot of work to make the reader feel they’re in that bygone era.

All that being said, I have a few goals with this draft. Obviously, I’ll be looking to clean it up, fix any plot holes I notice, and cut out anything extraneous. However, I have a few other goals. This includes:

Victorian fashion. It was a special kind of extravagant.
  • Improve the dialogue. I feel like when I wrote the first draft, I made my characters speak like modern-day Americans. This draft, I’m going to go through the whole book and make sure they sound like Victorians! Eloquence and flowery language, fewer contractions, a focus on politeness and how to address different classes. Not sure I’m going to mad on the expressiveness like characters in Dracula did (oh my God, even when people were dying, they had to be so wordy and full of praise for people they admire!), though. That might be too silly and melodramatic.
  • Explain the era better. One of the problems I have as a writer is that I forget that not every reader knows the same things as me. So, while I know a lot about Victorian England and can put an odd detail peculiar to the era in, knowing exactly what that means, the average reader won’t. It’s my job as the author to explain the minutiae to the reader, be it the ritual of mourning (click here for more on that), how much a pain in the ass cleaning was, or how ice cream was made back in the day (they used to use cucumbers!).
  • The little details need to be inserted. By this, I want to include more things special to the Victorian era. You write about the 1980s, you include Walkmans and big hair and the latest pop songs. You write about the 1950s, you include Cold War concerns, soda shops in pharmacies, televisions and record players, and early rockers. You write about the Victorian era, you mention steam engines, Mudie’s Lending Library, penny dreadfuls, and so much more. I want to include more of those details in the story, so that others familiar with the era can say, “Aha! That makes it feel authentic.” And trust me, there are a lot of details like that to include.

So, that’s what I’m up to lately. Or what I’m about to get up to, most likely starting this week. With any luck, I can make a damn good draft and get this story one step closer to publication. And believe me, I aim to get this story published, one way or the other. After all, this story includes both my love of the Victorian era and my theory of who Jack the Ripper is! You know I gotta get that out there!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to dream dark dreams. Possibly taking place at balls with huge dresses and polite conversation. Still dark dreams, though. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Good morning and happy December, Followers of Fear! We’re almost done with 2020 (and I think we’re all excited about that). However, while we’re still stuck in this year, there’s still much to do and look forward to. And I hope you’re including the release of my latest story, “Mother of the King,” in your list of things to look forward to!

For those of you who don’t know, “Mother of the King” is a fantasy novelette about the return of King Arthur, told from the perspective of the woman responsible for his return. It’s being released as an e-book exclusive on Amazon, and guess what? Today’s the release date!

(And sorry for those who prefer physical copies, but those will only be available as chapbooks at events like conventions or book readings. Just got to hope you can come to a future event I’ll be attending someday. And yes, I’ll be releasing a post about what chapbooks are as soon as I can.)

A story about the return of King Arthur. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

I’m very excited to release this story. I first got interested in Arthurian legend about two years ago, and went down a rabbit hole of research. The result was this story, which incorporates a lot of what I learned into the story while still being a (hopefully) entertaining tale.

I’ll include the links down below for anyone who’s interested. And if you do end up buying a copy and reading it, please leave a review and let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback. Plus, your reviews help other readers know whether or not they should check out the stories themselves.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me. Until next time, happy reading, pleasant nightmares, and LOOK OUT FOR THE MACE TO THE HEAD!!!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon CAN, Amazon UK

What is sleep? There’s too much to work on right now! And I just got another thing done! The second draft of Toyland is finished! Glory hallelujah, pour the alcohol (in this case, German festbier) and play some celebratory music (Voodoo Child by Rogue Traders better be on the playlist).

So, if you don’t know, Toyland was last year’s National Novel Writing Month project (glad I managed to finish it before the one-year anniversary of starting the book). It’s a Gothic horror/dark fantasy novel revolving around a boarding school in southern Ohio, and the spirit that’s said to haunt it.

My God, this draft was a roller coaster. As I said in a previous post, I had a lot of cleaning up to do. Lots of unwieldy passages and paragraphs where I thought to myself, “What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?” But I managed to keep going despite the cringe factor and knock out a second draft.

And I think I was successful in cutting out anything unnecessary from the story, including the epilogue chapter. Yeah, it was a good epilogue, but ending it without the epilogue made for a better ending and a better story overall.

Speaking of which, I just did a word count. Even without the epilogue, there’s not much of a difference between drafts (so maybe I added a ton more material than I cut?). The first draft was 360 pages (8.5 x 11-inch paper, Times New Roman 12-point font, double spaced) and 97,128 words. The second draft was 358 pages and 96,088. Still a bit shorter than my longest novel, Snake, but still long as hell.

So, what’s next? Well, I think a few more drafts. The novel’s a good deal better, but it still could use some work. Maybe a beta reader or two ought to take a look at it at some point. And then I can consider what route to go with publishing it.

Of course, there’s a few other things that need to happen, along with more drafts, before I can get to that point. What they are, I can’t say. But I think I’ll accomplish some of those within the next year or so.

Well, it’s late, so I think it’s time I hit the hay. I do have work tomorrow. Good night, my Followers of Fear. If you see some dragons flying through the sky, they’re not mine. I swear. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

At the time I’m writing this, I’m in the middle of Chapter Ten of the second draft of Toyland, the Gothic horror/dark fantasy novel I finished earlier this year. And let me tell you, as I work through each chapter and make my edits, I find myself in awe.

What the hell was I thinking when I wrote some of these chapters?

Anyway, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Toyland, it takes place in an Ohio boarding school and follows students who become aware of a ghost haunting their school, one obsessed with a children’s book and that may be harming some of the students. Yeah, bonkers premise, but I make it work. At least, I’m hoping to make it work. Hence why I’m editing it rather than publishing it right here and now.

And I’m glad I am editing it. Because I cannot believe some of the shit I wrote. I mean, yeah, I was writing the early chapters during NaNoWriMo last year, so there’s a good chance I was up late and either sleep-deprived or hopped up on caffeine (or, if it was a weekend, buzzed). But still, some of these lines! What was I thinking? 

For example, in Chapter One, my protagonist Mason heads to the men’s rooms in the dorms. Here’s how I describe it:

Gabe and Mason entered, the door hinges squealing behind them. To the left were the stalls and sinks for the normal bodily functions.

“Normal bodily functions.” As opposed to what, Rami? Are there other kinds of stalls and sinks in bathrooms? Just what the fuck were you talking about?

And there are other passages like that, sprinkled here and there. Every time I come across them, I wonder what my state of mind was when I wrote them. Either that, or if I was just that desperate to make a fifty thousand word count by the end of November.

And in Chapter Ten, the one I’m working on now, I did something incredibly stupid the first time around. Mason the protagonist is about to reveal to a classmate of his about some of the strange events in the school. The story then fast-forwards to hours later, where Mason recalls the conversation in flashback. 

When I read that, I was taken out of the story for a second. I imagine potential readers will have that same experience as well. So now I’m busy rewriting Chapter Ten so that it flows better and doesn’t take the reader out of the story. It’s a pain in the ass, and I’m annoyed at myself for writing the story that way. What the hell was I thinking?

Well, that’s where the story is right now. The good news is, as I get further along, I find fewer of these problems. Hopefully that stays true for the rest of the second draft. But man, until I get to that point, I’m going to be looking back and shaking my head at those sections. 

So, that’s where I stand with Toyland, my Followers of Fear. I’ll keep working on it until probably October 1st, when I have to edit a couple of short stories for some publications that will be opening for submissions soon. But after that, barring anything else coming up, I’ll be back at work on Toyland and hopefully have it done by Halloween. Wish me luck.

Also, to my fellow Jews, tonight starts Yom Kippur, where we atone for our past transgressions and pray and fast for forgiveness. To you, I wish an easy fast and Gmar Chatimah Tovah, or “a good sealing” in the Book of Life. As well as a pizza party after the fast ends (wink).

Until next time, Followers of Fear, stay safe and pleasant nightmares.