Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Swapin' for All Hallows Read

Writer Catherine Scully is doing something very cool to celebrate the month-long holiday of horror that is October. In the spirit of Neil Gaiman's All Hallow's Read (where you give a scary book to someone during the week of Halloween), Catherine is hosting a book swap. Participants will be giving a favorite horror book of their own to someone else int he group, kind of like Secret Santa, but with dead things.

You can read Catherine's blog post about the swap here, and you can watch the video below to learn more about All Hallows Read.

I can't wait to see what book I get, and I now have to figure out what one of my preciouses I will be parting with so that someone else can experience it. Maybe something Clive Barker...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

DriveThru Fiction is a Better Match for Me than Kindle MatchBook

At first glance, Amazon’s new Kindle MatchBook program was something I had been waiting for since publishing my first novel in October of 2012. The new program would allow me to offer print versions of my books through CreateSpace, and offer the kindle versions of the same books at a lower price point for those who bought them in print.

Over on DriveThru Fiction, I had that option from the day I published my first book--it’s built right into the setup process for new books at DriveThru. For example, when someone purchases the print version of Making Ear Candy over at DriveThru for $11.99, they can grab the digital version (ePub, Mobi, or PDF) for a mere two dollars more, a discount of five dollars (the digital version is usually $6.99). I really don’t make any money off the digital version with that bundle, but I’m happy to offer a good deal to someone who’s buying my book already.

Anyway, the reason I’m able to offer both the print book and the bundle at a decent price is because DriveThru does a really awesome job of keeping setup and manufacturing costs down. They also let me set the price and the profit margin, so I can keep the cost as low as possible while making a few bucks on each purchase.

So like I said, I was very excited to have the opportunity to offer the same kind of print and digital bundles through CreateSpace and Amazon. I went about setting up the print version through CreateSpace (the digital version is already on the Kindle store), and everything was going as planned until I got to pricing.

CreateSpace has a little thing they call the “Minimum Price Threshold.” That’s the price your book has to be at or above to sell through CreateSpace. According to them, this price is based on manufacturing and distribution costs. Since Making Ear Candy has some color images in the interior, it costs more to print.

For Making Ear Candy, the “Minimum Price Threshold’ was $16.82. That’s the lowest price I could offer the print version of my book for, and at that price, I would make absolutely nothing on a sale if someone bought that book through Amazon. To make three bucks a sale, I would need to price the book at $20, and even if I gave the Kindle version away for free, that bundle would still be seven dollars more than the $13.99 bundle I could offer over at DriveThru. That means I would make less money on the bundle, even though the customer was paying substantially more.

Folks, that just doesn’t make sense to me.

And yes, I know that from a distribution standpoint, Amazon and CreateSpace have a much wider reach and a much bigger base than DriveThru. But I don’t feel comfortable screwing potential readers with a pricing structure that benefits neither one of us.

So, while I’ll be continuing to make digital versions of my books available on Amazon and DriveThru, I will be sticking with DriveThru for print. If the gap between the two in terms of print costs gets better, I'll reconsider in the future, but it doesn't look like Kindle MatchBook is a match for me right now.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Big E Provides a Glimpse of Amusements Past

Around these parts, the Eastern States Exposition (aka The Big E) is a yearly tradition. Each year for the last couple weeks of September, people from all around come to West Springfield, Massachusetts to experience a state fair the likes of which we rarely see anymore.

I grew up in this area, so I've been to the Big E dozens of times over the years, but it's still a newer experience for my wife and kids. When I go now, I go mainly to see the old attractions that are a testament to years gone by. Many of the old food stands, trailers and amusement rides are older than I am. The amusements in particular are old style midway attractions that I grew up with, but have long since been replaced by more modern rides and games in parks like Six Flags.

I took a bunch of pictures of the rides and booths, and I think you'll agree that they are something special. Imagine the stories these things could tell.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

See Brian Write--Episode #10: Alexandra Clair and Pinterest

In the tenth episode of See Brian Write, my guest is Alexandra Clair, the author of Wood’s End and Discerning Spirits: Visionary Gifts in Practice. This episode's Writer's Toolbox explores using Pinterest as a book cover design tool.

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Brian Churchill.

You can listen to the entire episode right here in the player below, or head over to to download the MP3. I will be getting the show up on iTunes in the next few weeks, but you can subscribe to the podcast with these feeds:


Alexandra Clair

Wood’s End

Discerning Spirits

Writer’s Toolbox

Book Cover Design Board

NOTE: If you are a writer and want to be on the podcast, either email me (, or DM me on twitter: I am now scheduling new interviews!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Integrity of the Interview Process

A bit of a rant for today:

Between my time as a freelance game journalist and my seven-plus years as a podcaster, I’ve done hundreds of interviews. Whether they were for print, video or audio, all of my interviews had one thing in common--integrity.

Integrity--what the heck do I mean by that? Well, Webster defines integrity as “a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” As that concept relates to interviews I've done and will do, it means there are certain rules I follow that I never waver from. They are:

  • Be humble in asking for interviews and grateful for the interviewee’s time. 
  • Always give interviewees an idea of what I will be asking them about ahead of time. 
  • Whenever possible, familiarize myself with an interviewee’s work before speaking with them. 
  • Respect any requests to avoid certain questions or subjects. 
  • Edit as little as possible, and never change the context of what was said. (The only things I edit out of an interview are profane language and things like someone stumbling or saying “Umm” a lot.) 
  • No spinning. My angle on interviews is always to promote what people are doing, not to create controversy or get more page hits and downloads by sensationalizing.

Why am I writing about this? Because today a good friend of mine had his words twisted by a site that he gave an interview to recently. They took great liberties with his written responses to questions they had emailed him, and the resulting article included fabricated statements that could be seen as inflammatory.

I’m not using specifics or linking to the article, as my intent isn’t to give more attention to the people who did this. My intention is to remind anyone who does interviews for a podcast, website or news outlet that we have an obligation to uphold the integrity of the interview process. Because when someone doesn’t it not only makes the rest of us look bad, it forces a lot of creators to think twice about whether or not to say ‘yes’ to the next person who asks them for an interview. And if they don’t say ‘yes,’ we all lose. They don’t get to promote their work as much as they could, and we don’t get to hear about the creative process that went into it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Title of My Next Book Is...LOVECRAFT'S CURSE!

Finally! Finally I can talk about this book that I've been putting together for such a long time.

My next horror novel is called Lovecraft's Curse, and with any luck, it will be arriving before Halloween. Right now, the beta draft is in readers' hands, and I am discussing cover designs with my good pal and frequent collaborator Jeff Rodgers.

I cannot put into words how excited I am about this book. Here is the current version of the back cover copy, which should give you a taste of where this story is going:

A horrific childhood incident cast a shadow over Fela Barton’s life for fourteen years.

Now a 20-year-old college student, Fela survived her first semester of living on campus and is finally ready put the past behind her.

Until the nightmares start again.

Fela’s dreams hold the key to the madness that has plagued her family for generations. But as she searches for answers, a terrible evil gets closer to finding her.

Only one person can help Fela now--and he’s been dead for over 70 years.

There will be many more details to come of course, but I did want to at least give folks a visual reference for my main character. Without a doubt, Ashley Laurence was someone who I kept picturing as I was writing Fela Barton. She was amazing as Kirsty Cotton in the Hellraiser series, and as you might have guessed, Clive Barker is a huge influence on my writing as well.

But the biggest influence on my horror writing is without a doubt Howard Phillips Lovecraft, arguably the greatest horror writer of all time. To say his presence will be felt in Lovecraft's Curse would be an understatement of epic proportions.

More to come!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Read My Short Story 'Tony the Bear' on Deadly Ever After Right Now!

Earlier this week, the awesome Julie Hutchings asked me to write a short story for her and Kristen Strassel's blog Deadly Ever After, as they were starting a weekly series called Flash Fiction Fridays. I was psyched to be a part of it, and I started thinking about what story ideas might be a good fit. The first thing that popped into my head was Tony the Bear.

About three years ago, I was asked to write a one-page horror short for a Lovecraftian magazine. The story I wrote was based on an imaginary friend that my son had when he was younger called Tony the Bear. My son would often talk about the large brown bear that lived in his closet. He was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, and he talked about Tony quite a bit.

The story never actually made it into the magazine in question, so I'd been thinking about what to do with it for the past couple of years. When Julie reached out, it gave me a great excuse to take another look at it, and I ended up rewriting a good bit of the original version. I'm happy with how this version came out, and even happier to say that you can read it for free over on the Deadly Ever After blog right now!

Thanks again to Julie and Kristen for giving me the opportunity to share my story with their readers! While your over checking out Tony the Bear, check out Julie's new book Running Home, and read about Kristen's upcoming book, Because the Night. They also do a podcast called the Undead Duo Live, which you can find here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

See Brian Write--Episode #9: Joel T. McGrath, Google Docs and Scrivener

In the ninth episode of See Brian Write, my guest is Joel T. McGrath, creator of the Shrouded Secrets Chronicles. This episode's Writer's Toolbox features Google Documents and Scrivener, tools for writing and formatting your books.

You can listen to the entire episode right here in the player below, or head over to to download the MP3. I will be getting the show up on iTunes in the near future, but you can subscribe to the podcast right now with these feeds:


iTunes: itpc://

Selling books at conventions (

Joel T. McGrath

Shrouded Secrets 


Writer’s Toolbox 
Google Docs


NOTE: If you are a writer and want to be on the podcast, either email me (, or DM me on twitter: I am not scheduling new interviews until mid-September, but I will get you on the show!