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Monday, December 26, 2011

Nightmare After Christmas

For those of you who found a shiny new Kindle under your Christmas tree and are hankerin' to fill it up with content, you might like to know the ebook version of EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS is available for FREE until December 30th.  My little gift to you.

If you miss out, no worries, you can still read it for free with your Prime membership until March 6, 2012.

If you prefer the feel of paper between your fingers, Barnes & Noble is currently offering the print version at the lowest price I've seen so far ($9.35).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS. Contest expires January 01, 2012.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks by Robert Gray

Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks

by Robert Gray

Giveaway ends January 01, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Five Best Books of 2011

In honor of my favorite book this year, I give you THE FIVE BEST BOOKS OF 2011.

5. ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H. Wilson 

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archosassumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years.

4. FLASHBACK by Dan Simmons 

The United States is near total collapse. But 87% of the population doesn't care: they're addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to re-experience the best moments of their lives. After ex-detective Nick Bottom's wife died in a car accident, he went under the flash to be with her; he's lost his job, his teenage son, and his livelihood as a result.

Nick may be a lost soul but he's still a good cop, so he is hired to investigate the murder of a top governmental advisor's son. This flashback-addict becomes the one man who may be able to change the course of an entire nation turning away from the future to live in the past.

A provocative novel set in a future that seems scarily possible, FLASHBACK proves why Dan Simmons is one of our most exciting and versatile writers.

3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

2. THE SILENT LAND by Graham Joyce 

In the French Pyrenees, a young married couple is buried under a flash avalanche while skiing. Miraculously, Jake and Zoe dig their way out from under the snow—only to discover the world they knew has been overtaken by an eerie and absolute silence. Their hotel is devoid of another living soul. Cell phones and land lines are cut off. An evacuation as sudden and thorough as this leaves Jake and Zoe to face a terrifying situation alone. They are trapped by the storm, completely isolated, with another catastrophic avalanche threatening to bury them alive . . . again. And as the couple begin to witness unset­tling events neither one can ignore, they are forced to con­front a frightening truth about the silent land they now inhabit.

1.  THE FIVE by Robert McCammon 

The Five tells the story of an eponymous rock band struggling to survive on the margins of the music business. As they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever.

The narrative that follows is a riveting account of violence, terror, and pursuit set against a credible, immensely detailed rock and roll backdrop. It is also a moving meditation on loyalty and friendship, on the nature and importance of families those we are born into and those we create for ourselves and on the redemptive power of the creative spirit. Written with wit, elegance, and passionate conviction, The Five lays claim to new imaginative territory, and reaffirms McCammon's position as one of the finest, most unpredictable storytellers of our time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

KDP Select

If you're not familiar with Amazon's new KDP Select option for authors, you can get yer learn on here: Amazon's KDP Select.  While the terms are not entirely favorable--for instance, I don't like the exclusivity clause--I've decided to give it a try with  EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS.

What does this mean for Kindle owners?

If you're a Prime Member, enjoy yourself a free copy of EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS.  Merry Christmas.  If you're not a Prime Member, you can purchase a copy for $2.99.

What does this mean for non-Kindle owners?  

At least for the time being--until March 6, 2012 to be exact--I am not able to distribute the ebook to any other reading device.  This includes nook, iPhone/Pad/Pod, Sony readers, Kobo, and whatever else is out there.  After March 6, Amazon's contract expires, which means you'll slowly see EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS reappear in various other e-formats.  I'll keep you posted on this blog and over at Eve's website.

In the meantime, there's always the dead tree version--Print Edition ($12.99)--which looks much better under a Christmas Tree anyway.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Books N Stuff 2

EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS is now available at Books N Stuff 2, located at the Old Lumberyard Shops in Milford, PA.  You don't have to buy my book, of course, but stop on by and support your local bookstore.  They have a great selection of new and used books, as well as games, a computer area with complimentary wi-fi, and some really comfy couches.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Exclusive Interview with Robert Gray

I recently chatted with Susan Heim, parenting author and "Chicken Soup for the Soul" editor.  You can check out the interview here:

Susan Heim on Parenting: Exclusive Interview with Robert Gray, Author of Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday Deals

Yeah, I got one, too.  Use the coupon code below and receive 25% off the paperback version of EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS.  This coupon expires December 1, 2011. 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Revision Process

There's a stigma attached to self-published books that they are poorly edited or not edited at all.  Because a manuscript didn't go through the "proper" vetting process, there is a fair amount of truth to this.  I've seen a lot of crap out there.  (Truth be told, I've seen a lot of traditionally published messes, too.) With EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS, I never expected to achieve perfection (an impossible pursuit anyway), but I at least took that stigma to heart.

BOS went through 9 revisions total.  The first draft, for me, has always been about exploration.  I don't do outlines (on the other hand, I cringe at the term "panster").  I despise the very idea of an outline and believe they crush creativity more than inspire it.  That being said, the first draft of BOS was a complete mess.  The story branched off in all sorts of directions, with characters--ones I decided I didn't like all that much--disappearing at random.  Not a big deal. All I wanted to accomplish with the first draft was to simply lay down the groundwork for the story.

Before I even began the second draft, I loaded the first draft onto my ereader and grabbed a pen and a notebook.  Why an ereader, you might ask?  Because my inclination is to tinker with the story as I'm reading it, changing structure and grammar mistakes.  But it was far too early in the process to worry about  those pesky dangling participles, mostly because I knew I'd be cutting a lot out anyway. The second draft was about finding what I liked and what I didn't, and taking notes allowed me to focus exclusively on story flow.  With my notes firmly in hand, I went back and revised.

The third draft was the biggest beast of them all.  This one was almost an entire rewrite, taking at least twice as long as the first draft.  Here, I focused on character, story arc, the overall thematic elements, and everything in between.

In the fourth and fifth drafts, I honed in on grammar and style, slaying any modifier that looked at me funny.  Also, I cleaned up any glaring plot holes I might've missed in draft 3--I can never seem to find them all, and I doubt I ever will.  With anything I write, I keep a list next to my computer of all the writerly sins I've committed in the past.  Yes, that list is long.  Yes, that list is somewhat embarrassing. This includes such gems as overusing look and turn; using weak verbs instead of ones full of vigor; and, perhaps my biggest sin, the dreaded "floating heads," where characters talk, but there's no sense of place, time, or emotion sprinkled around the dialogue. I probably could've spent the rest of my life in this phase of the revision process. Like I said, I'm a tinkerer.  But what I needed at this point was some feedback (which is another way of saying, This story is burning me out, and I need a break from it).  I hear a lot of writers say you shouldn't have family review your work, because they will be biased, but I don't subscribe to that logic.  Main reason being, it's hard enough to find a reader as it is.  Sure, family might put a nicer spin on things: "Oh, I loved it.  But I love anything you write."  But it is up to the author to read between the lines, regardless of the critic.  It's all a matter of asking the right questions.

In draft six, I added and subtracted based on the comments I received.  Pretty simple one. 

From here, I sent my work off to my editor. For BOOK OF SHRIEKS, I hired the wonderful Kathy Ptacek (editor and publisher of the writers-market magazine, The Gila Queen's Guide to Markets) to proofread the story, and she made all the difference, let me tell you.  We did two passes on the manuscript.  The first one put the story under a microscope.  Here, I learned just how bad a writer I really was.  The second pass was more of check to make sure we didn't miss anything during the first round of edits.

The final revision was with a sample copy of the book in hand.  More of a check on formatting issues and the like, but even still, I found a few head-slap problems I hadn't noticed in drafts 1-8 ... are you kidding me?

From there, I considered it a finished product.  So what's the moral of the story?  Really didn't have one, but  I can quote entire passages of the book, and I even had a strange nightmare the other night in which whole chapters were misspelled, but, hey, it's all part of the process, right?  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks is now available

EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS is now available for sale.  And to celebrate, I'm, er, sponsoring a contest over at Eve's website.  The rules are simple: draw a picture of something "spooky" and email it to evehallows1031[at]gmail[dot]com.  Enter your picture before December 1, and you get a free autographed book.  The only requirement is to be a child ... or a child at heart.

At Eve's site, there is also a new bookstore open called Books & Brimstone where you can order the book in print or e-book formats.  Below, is a list of sites where the book is currently available.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Eve Hallows Website

The new Eve Hallows website is now live for your viewing pleasure.  Drop on over and say hi to Eve.  As we get closer to the release of EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS, there will be some fun prizes and giveaways on her site, so check back frequently.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks

I've mentioned a bit about the creation process for the cover of Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks (If you want to read that earlier post, you can check it out here), but I thought on this freakishly snowy Hallow's Eve, I'd talk a little about the picture itself.

First off, let me introduce the characters.  On the left, we have Maddie Hallows (Eve's Mom); hiding behind the tombstone is Sam Hallows (Eve's little ghoul of a brother); sitting front and center is Eve Hallows, and to the right is Bill Hallows (Eve's Dad).

In the picture, everyone is getting ready for a family photo, and, perhaps, the first question you may have is Why would they be taking a family photo at a graveyard?  And the obvious answer is that they live in a monster world known as Gravesville, and to Gravesvillians the graveyard is as much a part of their world as the beach is to, say, Californians.  You mean to tell me you can't see that from the picture?

Yeah, so, anyway, we have Mom, who is a gorgon, checking her face in a mirror and--What do you mean a gorgon can't look into a mirror without turning to stone?  Well, guess what?  This gorgon can.  You'll just have to read the book to find out why that's possible, won't you?

And then there's Sam, who appears rather frightened.  Perhaps he's annoyed Eve one too many times. And, of course, we have the star of the novel, Miss Eve Hallows, who looks simply miserable (she would say adorable, but I'm not gonna go there now).  Makes you wonder why, huh?  No?  Really?  Then you must want to know why Dad is checking his watch?  And didn't I mention they are getting ready for a family photo?  Shouldn't they be all happy and family-like?  Guess that depends on your definition of "family."

Also, you must be asking yourself why do Mom and Sam appear to be monsters while Eve and Dad look all human.  Hmm, very interesting.

Finally, you have to be wondering how the title and relates to the picture.  EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS.  Sure, the "Eve Hallows" part is pretty obvious.  There she is sitting on a tombstone.  But what about the whole "Book of Shrieks" part.  She isn't holding a book, and no one appears to be shrieking, and how can a book be about shrieks anyway.  All very good questions.

So, in short, the cover makes very little sense at all, but for a nominal fee ($12.99 for the paperback or $2.99 for the ebook) all of your questions can be answered. Well, maybe not all of your questions.  The book doesn't offer up the meaning of life or how to bake a cheesecake without it cracking, but it answers any questions you may have about the cover.  After all, isn't that the point of a cover? To make you ask some questions?  Well, covers also gives an author like me a big head because my name looks all nice and shiny, but that's a post for another day.

So what have you learned from today's post?  Absolutely nothing.  Did you really expect me to make a point?  Absurd!

Hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween.  I'll send you off with this:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eve Hallows Updates

Finishing up some last-minute edits on Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks, which is currently on schedule to be released on or about November 8.  The paperback edition will be available for $12.99 and the ebook-flavored edition for $2.99.  More to come on that once we get close to the release date...

If you'd prefer a free copy (because everyone likes free, right?) then email me at EveHallows1031[at]gmail[dot]com.  I'll have a limited supply of print books to give away and a whole lot of ebooks.  All I ask is that you review the book on your blog, Amazon, B&N, or wherever you comment about the books you've read.  You don't even have to say nice things about the book, I won't hold it against you.  Promise.


For fourteen-year-old Eve Hallows, life can be summed up in one word—horrible.  She has the most horrible friends.  She lives in a horrible old castle.  Even her family is a bunch of horrible monsters. 

However, in the monster-inhabited world of Gravesville—a world where messages are sent through Ouija boards, jack-o’-lanterns get facials to suit their moods, and the worst thing Eve has to deal with are those annoying zombie tourists who overrun her favorite graveyard during the Halloween season—horrible means wonderful.  And everything for Eve is perfectly horrible.

But her life is about to go head over heels when a mysterious group known as The Source starts terrorizing Gravesville.  Now she must move to the human world—where everything is opposite ... and for Eve, that's absolutely adorable!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Think Different

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. - Apple Inc.

Think Different.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kindle Fire and the Nook of Doom

Yesterday, Jeff Bezos and company announced--to much fanfare--their latest line of Kindle products, which included the highly-anticipated Kindle Fire tablet.  But the real stars of the show were the prices.  Here's a breakdown:

Kindle Fire $199.99

Kindle (With Special Offers) $79

Kindle Touch (With Special Offers) $99

Kindle Touch 3G $149

 According to Bezos, he's rather comfortable with slim profit margins and is banking on the sales of apps, music, movies, and books to offset those loses.  A smart move, for sure.  Amazon must've been taking detailed notes as they watched other tablet makers fail miserably.  (I also, for some reason, can picture Bezos barking out laughter and rubbing his fingers together manically.)

Will these "non-premium prices" make that much of a difference?  Probably.  At $199, the Fire is a borderline impulse buy, and it will certainly spur a lot of interest from non-techies and families looking to buy their children tablets without having to drop Apple Bucks for an iPad.  But I don't think the Fire will compete much against the iPad, though.  The iPad is still a superior device, and people have come to rely on and fully embrace Apple's technology.  Amazon has a rather spotty track record with hardware--1st gen Kindle, anyone?  I do, however, believe the Fire will put a big dent in iPod sales, which has traditionally been Apple's gateway drug.  If you're gonna drop $229 for an iPod, why not spend a little less for a Fire?

Of course, Amazon's main beef is not with Apple but with Barnes & Noble.  Why go for the fast gazelle when you've got a perfectly good wounded elk close by?  Fortunately for B&N--and I say this with loads of sarcasm--Amazon has been kicking B&N's ass for many years now.  It's nothing new for B&N to play the wounded-animal role to the Amazonian Huntress.

Still, I think there's a lot of overreacting going on here, especially for devices that haven't even shipped yet.  Everything looks great in a presentation, but how will the devices perform in the real world?  Not to mention, once the nostalgia of The New dies down--and with technology that number's measured in nanoseconds--the Fire is just another tablet in an already crowded space.  For that matter, the Kindle Touch is just another keeping-up-with-the-Joneses device, too, since it's essentially no different than what B&N, Sony and Kobo already offer.  Sure, it's less expensive, but that brings me to my final point: vendor lock-in.

If you're not familiar with the term, here's a bit on  it from Wikipedia.  Bottom line, if you've already purchased all these apps, movies, books, etc. that are tied to a specific device, it might not matter how low Amazon prices their Kindles. In part, vendor lock-in is why the Apple iPad dominates the tablet market.  Not because it's the best device out there or the least expensive, but because people have already invested heavily in apps, movies, and music for their iPhones and iPod Touches.  You buy a dozen or so movies, a handful of iBooks, and some of them fancy shoot-'em-up games for your iPhone, you pretty much just justified the price difference between a Fire and an iPad.

There does seem to be  growing movement for demand in vendor neutral services like Netflix and Pandora and so forth, and I imagine that trend isn't going to change, but for now, most people are tethered to their existing devices, and introducing more devices with their own propriety content just doesn't seem to be a game changer.

Either way, it's gonna be interesting  to watch all this play out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Horrorfind Weekend 13 Update

Horrorfind Weekend 13 is fast approaching, now only a few weeks away (Sept 2-4).  And once again, I'll be making an appearance ... I know, I know, you've waited all year to see me.  Well, I can't wait to see all of you, too.

Last year, the convention drew a crowd of around 5000.  This year, I'm  expecting a much larger crowd, especially since both hotels sold out so fast.

As I've mentioned before, I'll be doing two readings at the convention:  Saturday, September 3 (10:00am – 10:30am) and again on Sunday, September 4 (11:00am – 11:30am).  Both readings will be held outside, underneath the carport at the rear of the Wyndham Gettysburg Hotel.

I'll be reading from my forthcoming children's novel EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS.  Here's a brief descriptions of the book:

For fourteen-year-old Eve Hallows, life can be summed up in one word—horrible.  She has the most horrible friends.  She lives in a horrible old castle.  Even her family is a bunch of horrible monsters.

However, in the monster-inhabited world of Gravesville—a world where messages are sent through Ouija boards, jack-o’-lanterns get facials to suit their moods, and the worst thing Eve has to deal with are those annoying zombie tourists who overrun her favorite graveyard during the Halloween season—horrible means wonderful.  And everything for Eve is perfectly horrible.

But her life is about to go head over heels when a mysterious group known as The Source starts terrorizing Gravesville.  Now she must move to the human world—where everything is opposite ... and for Eve, that's absolutely adorable!

Besides the readings, I'll also be giving away a limited number of special prizes--though you'll have to wait until the convention to find out what they are.  I will say the story focuses heavily on Halloween, and since this is Horrorfind Weekend, expect the prizes to be, well, spooky.

Hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thoughts on Books

Last time I visited Washington, D.C., I went to the National Archives to see all those famous historical documents--Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and so on-- and I remember thinking how marvelous those documents are, not only because of their meaning, but because of their beauty. There's something about that old parchment and the hand-crafted, painstaking alignment of the text that exudes a majestic quality.

Farther along, I found the more modern-day documents, those that were typed on boring stationary and faxed over secure data lines.  And though many of these documents were equally important, the packaging made the words insignificant and flat-out dull.

When I think of the future of the book form, I'm reminded of my trip to the National Archives.

Is there really anything wrong with eBooks? No, not inherently. Hell, I own an ereader, and I even use it on occasion. But ereaders are dull, lifeless creatures, the equivalent to secure data transmissions, and they make what I'm reading seem insignificant, perhaps because the words tend to take a backseat to the technology itself (especially in the case of devices like the iPad--not ereaders per say, but they usually gets lumped into the same category).

As writers, we need every outlet possible to get our work to our readers, and new technologies allow us to distribute to the masses at a very compelling price: Free.

But it saddens me just the same.  Hopefully the day never comes when I'm visiting the National Archives to see that rare artifact called the book.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The demise of Borders has been thoroughly picked apart by pretty much every person with an interest in the written word.  Whatever circumstances led to their downfall--be it poor management, ebooks, Amazon--the result is the same ... It's over, Johnny.

What I find particularly sad is that ever since Border started its liquidation sale, my local store has never been busier.  Even at a mere 10% discount, the place was packed and the lines snaked around the aisles.  I've never seen anything like it.  Like Black Friday meets Groundhog Day.

And for 10%?  You get the same (or better) discount with a membership, people.  Makes me wonder if Borders should've had a store-closing sale a few years ago.  I'd made a comment about this to one of the employees last time I visited, and he told me that the place has been like something out of a zombie apocalypse novel ever since the sales began.  I hope the employees are at least getting compensated for all their extra work.

Today, the Borders near me started selling off their furniture.  I called up the store to inquire about some bookshelves and chairs, and the store manager who answered eagerly passed me off to the liquidator, which made me laugh.  I could tell by the liquidator's tone that the manager has been passing anything and everything off to him.  I'm sure I'd do the same.

Borders was one of my family's favorite places to visit.  We each had our aisles of interest (mine being the horror section--a rarity in bookstores these days) and after we'd pick up a few books, we'd gather in the cafe and read our purchases and sip our drinks.  It was a nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I'll miss it deeply.

I did manage to procure a few pieces of furniture, so at least I'll have some memories of my favorite bookstore.  I guess I'm sentimental that way.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks - Cover Design by Shaun Lindow

It goes without saying that if you've decided to go the self-pubbed route, you're job description goes far beyond writer.  Some of that extra work is tiresome, and just about all of it distracts you from the main task of actually writing.  That being said, it's not without some benefits--namely the ability to have complete control over your cover design.

Thanks to the ridiculous talent of artist Shaun Lindow, I couldn't be happier with the results of the cover for my forthcoming children's novel EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS, so I thought I'd talk a little about the process of bringing the cover from concept to finished product.

Shaun and I tossed around some ideas early in the process.  Basically, it was him explaining what works and me saying what I would like to see and the two of us meeting on common ground.  Shortly after those brief discussions, Shaun sent me four concept sketches.

 Already it was a hard decision.  I liked them all!  I felt the top right image truly captured Eve's moody attitude, but I also wanted the whole family on the cover.  I told Shaun my concerns and he came back with something even better: How about a candid shot of the family getting ready for a photo?  I loved the idea, and he sketched it out.

This was the one I decided to go with (above), so Shaun put together a more detailed sketch to make sure the colors and layout were exactly how I wanted them (below).

From there, I was like a nervous soon-to-be father pacing around my writing room.  I've seen Shaun's work, so I trusted him completely, but there's always that worry: He didn't read the entire book.  He doesn't understand the characters like I do ... and so on.

But then he came back with this, and all those little worries slipped away:

And here's the final design with spine and back cover.

I can't praise Shaun Lindow enough for his artistic talent and his ability to take my scatterbrained ideas and turn them into a beautiful cover.  If you're shopping around for an artist, then you should add him to your short list of professionals who charge reasonable fees for quality work.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Proceed With Caution

Instead of offering a list of rules you must not break, or a list of rules you must follow, in this month's Hellnotes article, I decided to give a list of rules that are sometimes okay if used sort of properly. Yup, just call me Switzerland.

You can check it out here: Proceed With Caution.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore Revealed

J.K. Rowling today unveiled Pottermore.com, an interactive site pertaining to all things about The Boy Who Lived.  The site will open to a million fans on Harry Potter's birthday, July 31, and then go live for the rest of us muggles in October.

The bigger news, in my opinion, is that Rowling plans to finally release the series in ebook format (also due out in October); however, the ebooks will only be available through Pottermore.com.

What does this mean exactly?  For one, Rowling has just kicked both her publishers and every distributor to the curb, which is all too reminiscent of when Stephen King ventured off on his own and released THE PLANT via his website back in 2000.  However, King did not have the benefit of e-readers, tablets, and smart phones.  But let's put all that aside and focus on the effects this will have on the industry.

So far, sales of children's ebooks have been lackluster at best.  Besides Rick Roirdan and a few others, we haven't seen much action in this area.  And I suspect most of the people buying these titles are adults.

The most common speculation as to why children are not embracing ebooks is because the devices are still too expensive, but I don't buy into that theory.  Most children have an iPod, Nintendo DS, Xbox, PlayStation, etc.  Some kids have all of these devices plus an iPad.  And every one of these devices costs more than a Kindle or nook.   I believe the more reasonable answer is that kids just don't read enough to justify a dedicated ereader.  Maybe the Potter-effect will change that, maybe not.  Either way, it's certainly going to bring a lot of attention to the children's ebook market, and that's a good thing.

Overall, I'd say Rowling has just destroyed at least three of the publishing world's Horcruxes.  She also might've just changed the whole landscape for self-published writers and the children's ebook market.

And she did it with this little announcement...  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On Reading Horror

This month's Hellnotes article is all about exploring the deep and rich history that the horror genre has to offer.  It's about learning your craft the old fashion way: by watching a professional at work.

You can check it out here: On Reading Horror

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Horrorfind 13 Author Schedule

Horror, Halloween and Supernatural - The Spookiest Show on Earth

This year's Horrorfind Weekend (lucky number 13) will be held once again in Gettysburg, PA on September 2-4.  And once again I'll be attending as both a fan and an author.  The difference, however, is that this year I'll be doing a special reading just for kids.  (Don't worry, folks.  I won't be reading the story from last year.)   The schedule is tentative, but as of now I'm reading on Saturday (10:00am-10:30am) and again on Sunday (11:00am-11:30am).  So if you're in the area and you're bringing your kids, then stop on over and say hello.  I might even have something special to give away.

Here's the complete schedule.  If you don't catch my reading, chances are you'll find me all googly-eyed at many of these:


5:30pm – 6:30pm: Zombies – Authors Christopher Golden (moderator), Tim Lebbon, Jason Gehlert, Jeremy Wagner, and Scott Baker discuss why the dead just won’t stay dead, and why the literary zombie craze is far from over. (Reading Room)

6:30pm – 7:30pm: Ronald Malfi and Rio Youers (Reading Room)

7:30pm – 8:30pm: The Life of Forrest J. Ackerman – Author Deborah Painter discusses the horror genre’s favorite Uncle. (Reading Room)

8:30pm – 9:00pm: James Newman and Norman Prentiss (Reading Room)

9:00pm – 10:00pm: Women in Horror – Authors Monica J. O’Rourke (moderator), Kelli Owen, Mary SanGiovanni, J.F. Gonzalez, James A. Moore, Sheri White, and Lesley Conner discuss the history and contributions of women in literary horror, and their future roles. (Reading Room)


10:00am – 10:30am Spooky Stories for Kids with Robert Gray (Outside – Rear Carport)

10:00am – 11:00am: Thomas F. Monteleone and Chet Williamson (Reading Room)

11:00am – Noon: What We’ve Learned So Far – New authors Kevin Lucia (moderator), Sheldon S. Higdon, Lincoln Crisler, Stavros, Jacob Haddon, and Bryon Morrigan discuss the perils, pitfalls, and lessons learned from publishing in the new millennium. (Outside – Rear Carport)

11:00am – Noon: James A. Moore and Mary SanGiovanni (Reading Room)

Noon – 1:00pm: Jason Gehlert and Jeremy Wagner (Reading Room)

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Politics and Religion in Horror – Politics and religion are two things many prefer not to discuss, yet horror fiction examines them regularly. Authors Kim Paffenroth (moderator), Andersen Prunty, Ronald Malfi, Kelli Owen, Rio Youers, Norman Prentiss, and James Newman discuss why. (Outside – Rear Carport)

1:00pm – 2:00pm: Tim Lebbon and Christopher Golden (Reading Room)

2:00pm – 3:00pm: Monica J. O’Rourke and Nick Cato (Reading Room)

3:00pm – 4:00pm: Brian Keene and Kelli Owen (Reading Room)

4:00pm – 5:00pm: Dustin Warburton (Reading Room)

5:00pm – 7:00pm: Bizarro World – Authors Andersen Prunty, Jeff Burk, Gregory Hall, Eric Mays, William Pauley III, Jordan Krall, Kevin Donihe and Nick Cato discuss the origins and future of the Bizarro genre, and offer some select readings and performances. (Reading Room)

5:30pm – 7:00pm: Author Q&A – Authors Tim Lebbon, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Brian Keene, J. F. Gonzalez, Kelli Owen, Mary SanGiovanni, Chet Williamson, and Thomas F. Monteleone answer your questions about anything in this no-holds-barred Q&A. (Outside – Rear Carport)


11:00am – 11:30am Spooky Stories for Kids with Robert Gray (Outside – Rear Carport)

11:00am – Noon: Charles Colyott and Brent Abell (Reading Room)

Noon – 1:00pm: Sheldon S. Higdon, Lincoln Crisler, and Bryon Morrigan (Reading Room)

1:00pm – 2:00pm: Robert Ford and Kevin Lucia (Reading Room)

2:00pm – 3:00pm: Jeff Burk and Scott Baker (Reading Room)

3:00pm – 4:00pm: Jacob Haddon and Lesley Conner (Reading Room)

4:00pm – 5:00pm: Wesley Southard and Jay Franklin (Reading Room)

Monday, May 23, 2011

25th Anniversary of Stephen King's IT

Following the announcement that Cemetery Dance is releasing three special editions of Stephen King's masterpiece IT this fall, their server went down.  The announcement was that big.

As you can imagine, I'm a huge fan of IT.  In fact, it is my favorite horror novel of all time.  So, yeah, you better believe I refreshed my screen about a thousand times until my order went through.  Good news is the server is back up at CD, for those who have been waiting patiently.

The 25th Anniversary Special Editions are full of extras, including an amazing wrap-around cover (above) by Glen Orbik, a brand new afterword by the author and nearly 30 pieces of artwork by Alan M. Clark and Erin Wells.

For more information, go to Cemetery Dance's Website.  And hurry.  I imagine this one's going to sell out faster than Pennywise can tear off poor little George Denbrough's arm.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The New Writer's Rejection: Zero Purchases

Thinking of self-publishing? You might wanna check out this month's Hellnotes article before you dive in.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Paddy's Day

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Before You Begin


  1. Buy the most expensive computer imaginable, with a monitor as wide as a bay window.

  2. Fill your writing room with a really big desk ('cuz you need to fit that monitor somewhere). The bigger the desk, the more important and author-ish you will feel.

  3. Get yourself a nice pen. I suggest one of the Writers Edition pens from Montblanc. My personal favorite is the Edgar Allan Poe. You won't need it for writing, but it looks good on a big desk next to a big monitor.

  4. Refuse advice from friends, agents, editors, other writers or anyone else who has an opinion on how you should write. You and I both know what opinions are like anyway.

  5. Expect immediate success. In fact, demand it in your query letter --of which there will be only one.

  6. After you complete your first draft, your manuscript is done. Refuse to make changes. You are an artist. It's time you start acting like one.

  7. Most important of all, read my latest article on Hellnotes. It's called BEFORE YOU BEGIN.

If you still have questions on how to approach this whole writing thing, the video below will explain everything.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And so the snowman apocalypse begins...

As much as I'm sick of the snow ... and sleet ... and ice--I'm really hating the ice!--the weather does allow me to finish some projects I've been neglecting.

Which means my latest article is now up at Hellnotes. You can check it out here: Write What You Know. Ever wonder how to apply that advice to horror fiction? Well wonder no more.

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