Monthly Archives: October 2014

.99 Halloween sale on my e-horror short story collection

A collection of short stories to scare, amuse, ponder, and enjoy.  The collection “Cemetery Tales and other Phantasms” is on sale Thursday through Monday at 8 AM Pacific Coast Time for .99 cents.

The lead story is “An Evening with Constance Bennett”  about a man watching  a marathon of  Constance Bennett movies on TV who takes a mysterious journey. The second story is “The Castle” about a just graduated high school senior who travels to England to house sit an ancient castle and the less you know the better. “Due Date” involves a writer returning to his home town to find the young librarian who influenced his life when he was a child, but finds a ghostly mystery that he can’t escape.

Then we have four tales from a Cemetery, one that actually exists. But whether the stories are real or not, you can decide. “Flowers for Martha Clemens” is a macabre mystery that will haunt a detective. “Desecration” is about two young lads whose pranks on Halloween in a cemetery will upset the dead, and that you don’t want to do. Third tale is “No Shadow in the Shade” about  man whose unexpected demise carries him into the next ghostly realm and his experience adjusting to his afterlife.   The final cemetery tale is “After the Party.” It has to do with a burial of the parents of children who have gathered at the grave site.

The final short story is a short detective story I included for no reason other than it was the first story I wrote. An experiment into a brief detective noir story. Something to exercise my writing ideas.

Happy Halloween!

Cemetery Tales and Other Phantasms:



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How to find story ideas by being lazy

I previously wrote about how to find ideas for stories; that they are all around you. I wrote of the time I saw a nicely dressed  old man walking with a shovel in a graveyard. I thought it odd and wondered what he could be doing. The imaginative juices kicked in and a short story was the result. I just hope the truth was less scary than my story.

But there is another way. It is being lazy.

Yes, laziness. For people like me this is ideal. By lazy I don’t mean waiting around for an idea to strike you like lightning. What I mean is this. I woke up one morning, was tired, so I lay still, not thinking of anything, just letting my mind, old and muddled with many dead cells, I am sure, run itself without any prompting by me.

Sometimes the worst thing to do is to try and come up with an idea. The harder you try, the less fruitful the result. But I let my mind go and in the solitude, in the quiet of the morning, my creative mind said, “Hey I got an idea. Think about this.”

I did think about it.  Not just a great idea, a Pulitzer Prize great idea; one that could be turned into an Oscar winning film idea.

Wish I could remember what it was. I realized I had actually fallen back to sleep and the story idea was running in my head. I said to myself I would remember, no need to write it down.

My memory lied to me. I forgot the idea. Which is why I carry a small notebook and pen with me wherever I go and why the notebook and pen rest on my bedside table for the next time my laziness gets the better of me.

So remember to have that notebook and pen with you at all times, especially by your bed. 

My e-novels:

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An important key to editing your story

I began my novel in progress with the following paragraph:

“I left for work wondering how soon my job would be eliminated and when it happened, for only a fool could not see it coming, I was also wondering how I would earn a living, for my occupation, such as it is, would no longer be needed. When I went home earlier than expected because of the murder, I had the same job, sort of, but was still wondering, this time wondering if I was up to the challenge. I also wondered who killed Hans Bachmann. I wonder a lot. It is an occupational hazard of writers.”

There is nothing terribly bad about the opening paragraph. You have the hero thinking he might be fired, then drops in the fact about going home early because of a murder. Who got murdered? What happened? But the problem is too many words. In editing, cut out the unnecessary and get to the point.

The revised paragraph is:

“I went to work worried I would be fired, was elated when told I still had my job, but had a chill run down my spine when I went to my office and saw a dead man sitting in my chair, his head on my desk in a pool of blood. And this on the day I had to go to Clara Bow’s birthday party. Some days just don’t fit in a normal life.”

I cut 97 words. It now reads with a smoother flow. It is also more active. The character goes from worried to elated to a chill down his spine in one sentence. You also get a visual of the murder scene. Victim sitting in the chair, head down, pool of blood. A sense of tone is more clear with the sentence about the murder happening on the day he is going to Clara Bow’s birthday and yes, this is not a normal day. I think this guy also has a quirky sense of humor.

I edited the paragraph a few months after writing it. I liked the first version, but writers tend to love what they write. They need to wait, forget what they wrote and revisit. Looking at it with fresh eyes it was easy for me to see a change was needed.

I hope you agree with the rewrite. A writer has to be critical of what he writes, not falling in love with a blind eye. That is the reason to put it aside and wait for fresh eyes. This is the key to editing.

Though the story is unfinished, Amazon has my finished e-books here:


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How to have fun writing

I subscribe to author Joanna Penn’s newsletter, “The Creative Penn.” In her latest newsletter she confesses, despite having written fiction and non-fiction books, a fear of being judged. True of all writers, don’t you think. She also confesses to taking herself too seriously, that she felt the need to write something “important.” Again, a trait shared by writers everywhere.

She then posed the question, “what if all writing was fun?” Her point was that having a word count to reach each day to meet her schedule became work. I see her point. Writing can evolve into work when you say I must write 2,000 words today, or 1,000, or whatever goal you set. Now there are writers who set word count goals and still love to write, but there are many for whom it becomes an albatross.

I never have set daily word counts. I have the type of personality for whom everything is a chore. I should do 30 minutes of exercise a day. I don’t. Now 30 minutes a day is not a lot of time, but I can’t make exercise fun; my fingers do get exercise at my keyboard, though the same can not be said of my rear end. So setting a word count for each day is not fun, for it tells me I have work to do.

I have always believed writing should be fun. What that means is to write a story that you would want to read, even if it means the story may not fit nicely into a genre which is easier to market. The reason is that if you write a story you want to write, you are having fun, and more important, and this is the primary reason, your writing will be better. And if you are having fun, time flies and you may surpass whatever word count you had set.

You must be enthused about your story, you must love your characters, even the villains. My two e-novels have a certain sense of humor running through them. Not everyone will get the humor, but I do, and I had fun using it. I write for myself first and if readers get it, great; if not, well you can’t please everyone, so do not fear being judged. Write with fun and love.

My books at Amazon that I had fun writing:

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Getting your book reviewed on Amazon, the good, bad, and the ugly

Any first time author is flop-sweat nervous the first time he clicks PUBLISH on Amazon. A writer gives birth to his creation, the story is his child, and any parent wants people to like his kid. So the author waits for the reviews and has both dreams of success with tons of four and five start reviews and nightmares of failure with the dreaded one star.

As any author knows, anyone who gives his book a one star review is an uneducated cretin who can’t read, is probably a child molester with heavy credit card debt, has no friends, and gets fired job after job.

I had to get that out of my system.

But lets take a closer look. Good reviews always make one feel good. It signifies they wrote a good book, heck even three out five stars means something positive. So anything three and above is good.

What is bad are reviews that bring out salient points, are well written negative comments about your precious book. But being objective, because you are a secure artist, you realize that the negativity brings out good points. But it must be remembered at all cost, and this is the most important thing you must tell yourself, is that everyone has different tastes, some will like the story and how it is told and others will not. Even best selling guru James Patterson had a book that got scathing reviews a couple of years ago. Of course with his fat green bank account, and as a writer of books that seem to come off an assembly line, he can laugh it off and move on the next book churned out a month later.

The rest of us need the good reviews, but keep in mind bad happens, live with it, and remember tastes vary. I Love pizza, my brother hates pizza. In fact our dislikes and likes are polar opposites on everything. One of us must be adopted. I have a birth certificate to confirm my parentage. I have not seen his.

But the ugly is the idiot, such as the one who gave one of my books a one star review. I did not mind the one star in and of itself. I can live with that. it was his reasoning. He gave away the ending. Really? I can say he is right about the ending, but I could also make a case that he bought the killer’s story as did my hero. But was the killer telling the truth? This review came on a book that had two four star reviews and two three star reviews, so I can live with the one, but this person lacked decency.

By the way, for some reason one of the four star reviews disappeared one day. I don’t know what bothers me most, that somehow Amazon loses a four star review or that someone ostensibly gives away the ending of my story. The best thing I can do is get a doll that has been given a voodoo spell by a New Orleans creole woman and stick massive pins into it.

I think I have the makings of a story there. See you later, must get to work.

My e-novels, my reviews-the good, the bad, and the ugly are here:

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Harlan Ellison on paying the writer

Years and years ago. Add a few more years because we are going way back when I was living in Los Angeles, fresh out of college. I walked into a large kiosk bookstore in Hollywood one night. I picked out a collection of short stories written by Harlan Ellison and took it to the checkout counter. The man started to laugh and said, “You just missed him. He pulled up in a limo full of girls. He comes here all the time.”

Timing in life is everything and I have never had good timing. Drat. I missed Harlan Ellison.

For those of you whose cultural landmarks go back only 10 months, Ellison is a prolific writer of stories, novels, scripts, reviews and everything else. If you saw Don Johnson in a movie called “A Boy and His Dog” that is Harlan Ellison. Of course that movie is also long time passed, but one to find.

At 80 years of age Ellison is still a social and cultural gadfly, still pugnacious and opinionated, though Ellison would insist on “informed opinion,” never shy about expressing himself even at the expense of alienating those around him.

He once said, “The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen. . .and stupidity.”

In talking about his writing he said, ” I talk about the things people have always talked about in stories: pain, hate, truth, courage, destiny, friendship, responsibility, growing old, growing up, falling in love, all of these things. What I try to write about are the darkest things in the soul, the mortal dreads. I try to go into those places in me that contain the cauldrous. I want to dip up the fire, and I want to put it on paper. The closer I get to the burning core of my being, the things which are most painful to me, the better is my work.”

As to a writer getting his due, as in payment, I offer this three and half minute clip I found on YouTube.

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