As I briefly touched on in my last post, there were some creative goals I had for 2016 that I failed to meet. I wrote and released some short stories I am very proud of, and even collected some of them for my first anthology. But I did not get the next book in the Parted Veil series out, and two projects Jolene and I wrote did not release this year like we had originally planned.
And while I think all three of those projects will ultimately be better off for the delays when they do come out, I need to be better in 2017.
I think one of the primary reasons for a lackluster output in 2016 was a lack of focus. I spent a lot of time talking to people about writing, and discussing projects I was working on. I spent a lot of time following the happenings of the writing world on social media. But I didn't spend enough time creating.
And let's be honest, 2016 was a rough year. It's hard not to be distracted by what's going on in the world and in our country right now. The ever-increasing depressing and disturbing news certainly affected my creativity this past year.
In short, I need to put my focus back where it needs to be--on getting projects finished and stories out into the world.
Writer Monica Valentinelli has created a 2017 challenge for herself and anyone else who wants to participate. It's called Make Art Not War, and it's about having a positive impact on the world through the creation of art.
The rules the Monica has laid out for this challenge really speak to me. Specifically, the rules about making a commitment to writing every day, and reducing the time you spend on social media. So, I'm committing to writing for at least an hour a day, and limiting my social media check-ins to twice a week.
I will be blogging about my progress on this challenge here on the site, and when I do check in on social media, I'll be using the #MakeArtNotWar2017 hashtag along with other participants.
I want to thank Monica for providing some much-needed inspiration heading into 2017. I have big plans, and it's going to take a lot of hard work to get there.
Earlier this week, Jolene and I released a new short story that takes place after the events of our novel Harrowed. It's called "After the Storm," and it's a Christmas story about friendship featuring our two main characters. The story is currently available to read on Wattpad for free.
We were excited to give that present to Woodsview fans who have enjoyed Harrowed and are patiently waiting for Haunted (which is coming in early 2017). But then we got to thinking--what about people who haven't read Harrowed? How would they enjoy the Christmas story if they've never read the story that came before it?
Well, it just so happens that we had some promotional days left on Amazon, so we decided to make both Harrowed and "After the Storm" free from now until December 28th. We want everyone to spend a little time in Woodsview over the holidays.
But first, we want to say thank you. Thank you for the tremendous amount of love you have shown Harrowed, and for your patience as we get ready to bring Haunted to you. We care about these characters so much, and to see them resonate with so many of you has been more rewarding than we could possibly have imagined.
And so today, we come bearing a gift, in the form of a Christmas story. It's called After the Storm, and it takes place just eight weeks after the events of Harrowed.
Here's the blurb:
Two months ago, Avery Blair and her best friend Quinn Grady survived a murderous rampage by a psychotic killer dubbed the Woodsview Harvester. The murders devastated the town and both Avery and Quinn lost more than their friends to the Harvester.
On Christmas Eve, Avery and Quinn go to visit their friends and realize that while they've both lost pieces of themselves, their friendship is what will help them heal.
This is a very personal story for us, for a variety of reasons. It's not a horror story, it's a story about friendship. It's a story about Avery and Quinn, and the people they care about. And hopefully as you read it, you'll see how much we care about them as well.
You can read After the Storm for free right now on Wattpad. It's our Christmas gift to you.
We are almost mid-way through December as I type this, and that is scary because it feels like mid-October in my head (although to be fair, it's pretty much always October in my head). I just wanted to check in prior to the holidays and give a few updates on what I've been working on, as I haven't been so great about that lately.
The Woodsview Murders--While Jolene and I had hoped to get Haunted (book two) out before Halloween, we are still wrapping up edits and will have word on a new release date soon. In the meantime, there is a treat coming for Woodsview fans in the form of a short story that I will have details about very, very soon. This is our little gift to people who have been so patient as we make sure that Haunted gets the love it deserves before we share it with you.
The Parted Veil--I'm currently editing a novella that is a follow-up to my first book, Courting the King in Yellow. It features that cast and a new character that will become part of the larger story that connects all of the books. You'll see this in the first half of 2017. I've also written the first draft of Lovecraft's Trial, the next full book in the Parted Veil series. If all goes well, that will be out in the second half of 2017.
And if you've been craving some new Parted Veil content, I recently wrote a short story called "What Crosses Over" for Jolene's Haunted Hotel event. The story ties into the world of the Parted veil and introduces two new characters--the Delacroix sisters. I LOVE this story and you can read it for free right now, right here!
Orchard Pointe--The self-titled first book in the Orchard Pointe series is currently in edits and will be out in the first half of 2017. Jolene and I are also working on a novella featuring one of the characters, and you'll be able to read an Orchard Pointe short story I wrote in the upcoming A Pizza My Heart anthology, which is coming on February 9th.
So, as the end of the year draws near, I'm actually very, very excited. As much as I would have loved to have at least half of the aforementioned projects arrive in 2016, next year is shaping up to be a big year for releases. Jolene and I have a few other projects we're already working on together as well, and we'll talk more about them in the New Year. There's also a project I can't talk about yet that I am so ridiculously excited to tell you about. Hopefully soon.
Anyway, that's the latest on what's going on with my writing. In case you didn't know, I also have a few podcasts out there that you can check out if you want to hear me blather on about stuff I love.
Secret Identity is the long-running comics podcast I do with my pal Matt Herring. We just posted our 754th episode, in which I start crying while reading a wonderful story about the impact Supergirl and the Alex Danvers storyline is having. You can listen here.
Co-Op Critics is a gaming podcast that my pal Nick Merritt and I do where we talk about a particular game or series each episode. Our latest episode was about the Nintendo Switch announcement. You can listen here.
Thrash It Out is a heavy metal podcast I do with my pal Antony Johnston, where we discuss one heavy metal album each episode. Our latest episode featured Amon Amarth's JOMSVIKING album. You can listen here.
If you've taken time to read or listen to anything I've made this year, THANK YOU. Seriously, we are all so busy that our free time is extremely limited. The fact that anyone would spend any of their money or free time to check out something I created blows my mind. Have a wonderful holiday season--be safe, enjoy your family and friends, and take some time to relax.
So, NaNo 2016 is over, and for the first time in all my years of doing NaNoWriMo, I failed to reach the 50K word mark.
My downfall this year was not focusing on one project. I had written about my rebellious plan earlier last month, and even then I wasn't sure it was the right approach to a NaNo event for me. Turns out I was right. Whether that was a self-fulfilling prophecy for me or not, I'm not sure. And while not hitting 50K isn't the end of the world, it made me realize that for NaNo events at least, I need to stay focused on one project. Lesson learned.
Now, onto the positives! The group of writing pals I have and the larger NaNo community were just as amazing and fun to hang out with online as every NaNo event I've participated in. They are the reason I keep coming back, and many of my current writer friends I met through NaNo one way or another. I am so thankful for them, and they will probably never realize how much.
I also made significant progress on two of the three projects I was working on. The Orchard Pointe novella Jolene and I are writing is off to a great start, and we actually started another project that sort of jumped from our "stories to do one day" pile to "this needs to happen now" pile. That has been a ton of fun. Then again, writing with Jolene is always fun.
I did not make as much progress on my Parted Veil book edits as I wold have liked. This was another lesson learned for me. I have a tough time switching between writing and editing. I'll have to plan accordingly in the future.
So overall, I was productive over the month of November, but not successful in my NaNoWriMo goal. I'll be participating in both Camp NaNo events (in April and July) over the coming months, and I will take these lessons with me.
How did NaNoWriMo 2016 go for you? Let me know in the comments!
My first NaNoWriMo was back in 2007. I wrote the first draft of what would become Courting the King in Yellow. I hit the 50K mark, I "won" NaNo on my first try--
And then I didn't come back for four more years.
When I did return in 2011, it was to draft the second Parted Veil series, Lovecraft's Curse. 2013's NaNo was the draft of Lovecraft's Pupil, 2014 was Lovecraft's Trial (which is coming in 2017), and last year was Harrowed (which I wrote with Jolene Haley).
I've always used the NaNo proper events to get a first draft of a full novel, one project that I dive deep into for the entire month (and beyond)--a singular focus.
Until this year. This year, I'm a rebel.
If you know me, then you know I'm not a rebel. I like rules, I like structure and I like deadlines. This is why NaNoWriMo works really well for me. The expectations are very clear.
But something happened this year. When I began planning out my month of writing, there were multiple projects that were calling out for attention. And so I listened to all of them. I'm currently working on an Orchard Pointe novella with Jolene, a short story for an upcoming anthology project, and edits for a novella set in the Parted Veil universe (starring the cast of Courting the King in Yellow).
I honestly don't know if I like it yet. I mean, I adore the community of Nano, and that's the exact reason I signed up again. The group on online writing pals that I've been fortunate to become a part of is truly amazing.
But not having that one, single novel driving my writing for the month has made for an inconsistent first couple of weeks. I am making progress on all three projects, but it's not the same as seeing huge chunks of a novel come together.
The most important thing is that I'm writing every day, however. That is always a good thing, and there will be many more words written before the month is out. As to whether or not the rebel life is for me, the jury's still out on that one.
NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and I could not be more exited. Writing every day, chatting with a supportive community of fellow writers, and laying the foundation for a new project is always a blast, and this NaNo will be no different. Jolene Haley and I are writing a story set in the world of our upcoming Orchard Pointe series, and I can't wait to dive into it.
But before Jolene and I became writing partners, Jolene was a guest on the See Brian Write podcast. I asked her to come on the show because she is such a positive force in the online writing community, and she has a wealth of info on great writing resources for those participating in any of the NaNoWriMo events. We had a discussion about getting prepped for Camp NaNo, and Jolene provided some awesome tips and links to resources that I wanted to share again on the eve of NaNo 2016.
So, you can listen to the episode of the SBW podcast right here:
And here are the show notes for that ep, complete with links to many of the resources we chatted about.
I absolutely love the annual writer and illustrator showcases that Jolene puts on. She brings together some amazingly talented writers and artists, and I am so grateful to have been able to participate over the past few years.
This year all of the stories revolve around a haunted hotel named the Thornewood, which has 666 rooms. I immediately signed up for room number 665. My thought was that room 666 would naturally be connected to some great danger or evil. But what about the rooms right next to it? That was a question I decided to explore.
So, I had a vague kernel of an idea, but I needed more ingredients for my story. I love creating characters, and I had decided this story would feature two main characters. I toyed with the idea of having it be two friends, or two people who were romantically involved. But it was a brief conversation on Twitter with my friend Jessi that led to the creation of the characters for "What Crosses Over."
I'm a big fan of the Soska sisters (also known as the Twisted Twins), who wrote and directed the excellent American Mary (starring Katharine Isabelle of Ginger Snaps and Freddy vs. Jason). They burst onto the horror scene with Dead Hooker in a Trunk back in 2009 and have become icons of the genre. I've since watched their show Hellevator, and it is indeed awesome--you should all be watching it.
The Soska Sisters
Anyway, that conversation inspired the creation of the main characters in my short story. I decided they would be a couple of freelance monster-hunting, magic-wielding, ass-kicking Canadian sisters known as "The Bards." And so, Lucienne and Maurelle Delacroix were born. As you'll see, the term "bards" is referring to their magical talents, which revolve around music (Lucie) and words (Mo). It's also a reference to my lifelong love of D&D. These two characters were so much fun to write from the start, that I connected their story to my Parted Veil series of books, opening the door for them to have many more adventures in the future. But it all starts at the Thornewood Hotel.
Outside of the characters, this story has clear connection to Lovecraft (as does my whole Parted Veil series), but also features nods to John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, and Creepshow 2's "The Raft," segment, which was based on a Stephen King short story. There's also an Easter Egg to another '80s franchise in there--I'll let you find it.
I hope you dig the story, as well as the peek into the inspiration behind it. Now go watch everything the Soska Sisters have made. And if you like the larger ideas this story is hinting at, feel free to check out my Parted Veil series.
I am very excited to be exhibiting at my home town con this weekend! Bing Con is an annual event that features local writers, artists, crafters and more who come together to raise money for the Bing Arts Center. The Bing is a local theater that is in the process of being restored, and the proceeds from admission to the show go toward the restoration.
Bing Con is taking place this Saturday from 11-5 at Trinity Church on Sumner Aver in Springfield. I'll have a table and will be selling my Parted Veil books, as well as my brand new short story collection, Intrusive Thoughts.
If you're in the Western Mass area, come down to Trinity on Saturday and say hi!
I'm very happy to announce that my short story collection Intrusive Thoughts (Volume One) is now available in print over at Drive Thru Fiction. Even better, it's a mere $6.99, so you should be able to buy it and get it shipped to you for $10 or so! And if you want the electronic versions (PDF, Mobi, Epub) as well, they're only $0.99 when you buy the print version.
With the upcoming release of Haunted (Woodsview Murders #2), now is the perfect time to check our the book that started it all, Harrowed!
This weekend (10/1-10/2), Harrowed is part of a book promotion from Patty Jansen, and it will be FREE!
What's even cooler is that there are over one hundred books that will be free as part of this promotion, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance and more. You can click on the banner above to see all of the books on the list. You can also click here to go directly to Harrowed.
I am so, so excited to finally share this with you.
Last year, Jolene Haley and I wrote Harrowed, a love letter to '80s slasher movies. In Harrowed, a killer known as the Woodsview Harvester terrorized a group of high school seniors, and only two of them made it out alive--Avery Blair and Quinn Grady.
If you forgot what Harrowed looked like, let me remind you:
Well, it's been one year since the massacre, and the harvest season is upon us again.
Haunted (The Woodsview Murders #2)
Last October, corpses piled up in Woodsview, Massachusetts faster than autumn leaves in the dead of fall. The small town changed forever when Jeremy Kane, known as the Harvester, slaughtered Avery Blair’s classmates, her friends, and Jason, the love of her life. Avery was supposed to die too, but she narrowly escaped, killing the Harvester in the process.
Avery and her best friend are trying to move on and leave their horrible past behind. They’ve enrolled in college, and taken on new challenges. Avery has a campus radio show, and Quinn has found a release—and a new relationship—on the roller derby track.
The Harvester nightmare was laid to rest, along with the bodies of her friends and the remains of the killer. But what’s dead doesn’t always stay buried. With the anniversary of the slayings, comes a suspicious death on campus. When two of their dorm mates disappear, Avery suspects that the Harvester is back to finish what he started.
Avery Blair is haunted by the ghosts of her past—memories of the slayings that torment her days and curse her sleepless nights. She can dismiss the visions of Jason she sees everywhere, but she can’t ignore the signs that scream the Harvester is back…for blood.
One thing is certain—people are dying, and the killer is determined to add Avery and Quinn to the carnage. Can Avery separate fiction from reality and find the killer, or will the ghosts of the past finally consume her? Jeremy Kane is dead. He can’t possibly be back from the grave, can he?
It's almost here! My short story collection Intrusive Thoughts (Volume One) will be arriving September 27th in both digital and print. You'll be able to pick up the digital version on Amazon for Kindle, or in print and multiple digital formats (ePub, PDF, Mobi) over at Drive Thru Fiction.
About Intrusive Thoughts:
They appear in your mind without warning. Panic-inducing visions of familiar people, places and events twisted into something sinister and frightening.
A child's imaginary friend;
A carnival photo booth;
A snowy winter's night;
A lover's getaway;
A walk in the woods;
A couple's dream house;
Once these corrupted versions of reality embed themselves into your brain, they will haunt you every time you close your eyes.
This week Jolene and I finished the draft of Haunted, the second book in the Woodsview Murders series, and the sequel to last year's Harrowed. We are rolling right into edits, but I figured I'd celebrate by just giving you a hint of what you can expect from the book, as it's a much darker story than the first book.
We're picking up one year after the Woodsview murders, and both Avery and Quinn have been profoundly affected by the killing spree that took so many people that were close to them. Avery in particular is struggling to move on after losing the love of her life, and it's affecting her relationship with Quinn. She's in a very dark place as we open the book.
Woodsview itself is a different place now. October used to be a special time of year in town, but the Harvest festival is no more, and the remaining residents of Woodsview would just assume skip the entire season altogether, for it only brings memories of the horror they suffered at the hands of the Harvester.
The Harvester is a boogeyman that most residents of Woodsview only mention in hushed conversations nowadays. But the anniversary of the Woodsview murders is approaching, and with it will begin a new chapter in the legacy of the Harvester.
Okay--there's a lot more I could share, but Jolene will kill me. So, I'm going to jump into edits. and I'll check in along the way. Haunted will be out before Halloween, so stay tuned for a cover reveal and more specific release info soon!
Have you ever had to postpone a trip at the last minute? You had already bought the plane tickets, planned your itinerary and took the time off from work, but for whatever reason, something came up, and plans needed to change?
Well folks, I'm sad to say that Jolene and I have had to postpone our trip to Orchard Pointe.
Yeah, we're bummed too.
You might have figured that out already, as we were shooting for an August 16th release date and that came and went. The only reason we didn't make an announcement at that time is that we were hoping to have the book ready to go before the end of August.
See, Orchard Pointe was supposed to be our summer book. We have the Woodsview Murders series as our Fall/Halloween series, and Orchard Pointe was going to be our spring/summer series, as it's less Friday the 13th meets Scream, and more Something Wicked This Way Comes meets Lost Boys.
And the book is very close. Like, really close. Like, we could put it out now and it would probably be fine close. But it's not exactly where we want it yet. The last coat of polish isn't dry.
And so, rather than rush the book out and have it crowd the upcoming release of Haunted, we've decided to push Orchard Pointe into next year. This will give Haunted the spotlight it deserves this Fall, and give Orchard Pointe plenty of room to breathe. We still want the Orchard Pointe series to be our spring/summer series, and this delay will allow that to happen.
This is the right thing to do for our book, even though it hurts a little. One of the things that dulls the pain a bit is that between now and the release of the Orchard Pointe novel, readers will get at least two and possibly three Orchard Pointe stories that will begin to introduce that world and its characters. The first will come when my new short story collection Intrusive Thoughts(Volume One) is released digitally later this month. The second story will be in the Pizza My Heart anthology (or Pizzathology, as it were) that releases in November, and we should have another short story out very early next year.
We're sorry we couldn't bring you the debut of Orchard Pointe this summer, and that you'll have to wait a while longer. But a lot of love when into creating the world and characters of Orchard Pointe, and we want to make sure that shows in the story you will be reading. We appreciate your patience, and we will keep you posted on all things Orchard Pointe as we move forward.
I traveled down to the Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, Connecticut on Saturday for the third annual CT HorrorFest. Rob and Christine Caprilozzi and all of the crew over at the Horror News Network put together another fantastic show. I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and had my best day of book sales ever.
I should have known the day was going to be great, when it began with meeting some of the stars of one of my all-time favorite franchises. I had just finished setting up my table when I saw Ellen Sandweiss and Theresa Tilly--Cheryl and Shelly from Evil Dead. They were looking for their table and I was more than happy to get them to where they were supposed to be. We got to chat for a couple minutes and they are both super nice. And, when I found their table and dropped them off, I got to meet Zach Galligan of Gremlins and Waxwork! So, my day was pretty much made from the get go.
When the show actually started, I had steady traffic coming by my table all day. I saw some people I haven't seen since last year (author Jess Rougeau and my pals from Metal Dogz), and had some great neighbors (Lisa of Happy Kitty Studio and Sam Costello of Split Lip).
One very cool and somewhat surreal experience was seeing people who have bought books from me in the past come by to pick up the latest ones. Whenever someone tells me they are a fan of my writing, I am blown away. Every time. I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear someone enjoyed something I wrote. So, thanks to everyone who stopped by the table to say hi.
Oh--I sold books, too! I covered my table cost and then some, and it was a successful debut for my short story collection, Intrusive Thoughts. My best show sales-wise for sure.
The capper on an amazing day was getting to meet one of the greatest horror creators of all time--George Romero. I have to give a huge shout out to Chris Conway from Horror News Network, as he encouraged me to go over and say hi to Mr. Romero, and he watched my table when I did. Getting to tell him how much his work means to me was a great moment, and he was extremely nice.
So, another wonderful CT HorrorFest is in the books, and I can't wait to go back again next year. Thanks again to the HNN crew for all of their hard work--it paid off big time.
The lineup of guests is amazing, and includes George Romero (Night of the Living Dead), Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker and Theresa Tilly (Evil Dead), Tyler Mane (Halloween), Zach Galligan (Gremlins) and a ton more.
AND, I'll be selling books at the show! Not only will I have all three books in the Parted Veil Trilogy:
But I will also have my band new collection of short stories Intrusive Thoughts, which is not even available online yet!
This collection features two stories that are connected to the Parted Veil series, including the origin of one of the characters. It also features the origin story of a major character in Orchard Pointe, the new book Jolene Haley and I will be releasing soon. All of the stories are standalone however, and there's a little something for horror fans of all types in this one.
So, if you're in the CT/NY area, come out to Danbury for Connecticut HorrorFest this Saturday. And if you do, make sure to come by my table and say hi!
This year's TerrifiCon at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT was amazing. Matt Herring and I were exhibiting at the show for Secret Identity, doing interviews for the podcast and hosting and moderating panels all weekend.
There were so many highlights it's hard to pick just a few, but here goes:
My son and I got to see John Wesley Shipp (The Flash) again and meet Katrina Law (Arrow) for the first time. Both were super nice and were great to my son, which makes me even bigger fans of theirs.
Matt and I hosted two panels on starting your own podcast. I love talking about podcasting and especially love to talk with people who are just starting their own show. We met a ton of great people who had questions, feedback and some really great ideas for shows. I can't wait to check out their podcasts when they launch.
On Sunday, I got to moderate my dream panel. Anyone who l knows me knows that I am a lifelong Spider-Man fan (my son's name is Parker). I was lucky enough to moderate a panel called The Amazing Spider-Man: 35 Years of Writing Spider-Man. A veritable Mount Rushmore of Spidey writers were on the panel--Dan Slott, J.M. DeMatteis, Roger Stern and Peter David.
These four guys are responsible for some of the greatest storylines and moments in Spider-Man's history--Kraven's Last Hunt, The Death of Jean DeWolff, The Origin of the Hobgoblin, Spider Island and so many more. I was so enthralled with listening to them that I forgot to start recording the panel until about ten minutes in. I'm actually hoping to get a full recording of it (audio of video) so I can share it with everyone, because it was a blast.
On top of all that, I got to catch up with some of my comics friends that I rarely get to see, and we got some great interviews for the podcast. All in all, TerrifiCon was a fantastic show, and i want to thank the man behind that show, our pal Mitch Hallock, who continues to grow TerrifiCon into one of the best shows in the country. I can't wait until next year!
This weekend I'll be at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT for TerrifiCon! Not only will I be doing interviews for the Secret Identity podcast, but I'll be hosting panels as well.
On Friday and Sunday, my Secret Identity co-host Matt Herring and I will be doing two podcasting panels. These panels are aimed at anyone interested in starting their own podcast or looking to hear about our experience hosting and producing podcasts for the past ten-plus years.
Sunday 8/21--1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.--PODCAST / ART CLASS STUDIO (Passamaquoddy)
I will also have print copies of my podcasting book MAKING EAR CANDY at the show.
On Saturday 8/20 from 2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. (PANEL ROOM 1 (Nehantic/Pequot/Paugusett)), I will be moderating my dream panel--Amazing Spider-Men: 35 Years of Writing Spider-Man. This panel will feature legendary writers Roger Stern, Peter David, J.M. DeMatteis and Dan Slott, and we'll be talking about some of the amazing moments they've created during their runs on Marvel's flagship character. As a lifelong Spidey fan, I cannot tell you how excited I am for this one.
So come on down to TerrifCon this weekend and hang out! You can find out more at www.terrificon.com!
Seriously, I feel like it was the end of May like two weeks ago. But here we are. in mid-August, and I've got two book projects coming out this month.
One of the reasons for my lack of updates lately is that Jolene Haley and I have been laser focused on final edits for Orchard Pointe, which should be arriving on August 16th. An interesting aspect of Orchard Pointe (I think), is that it has some French-speaking characters in it, which has added a layer of complexity to both the writing and editing processes. Jolene and I want to give a big shout out to Magali Fréchette, who has been a tremendous help to us in making sure our French dialogue was accurate.
And then of course there is my short story collection Intrusive Thoughts: Volume One, which will be out digitally before the end of the month. I actually debuted some print copies of the book at the Plastic City Comic Con in Leominster in late July, and the feedback has been very positive so far. I'll be taking the rest of those print copies with me to the Connecticut HorrorFest on August 27th.
In addition to those pending releases, Jolene and I are hard at work on the sequel to Harrowed, which is called Haunted. We're around 65K in our draft now, so we have a ways to go, but it's coming along very nicely. We think you'll really like some of the new characters we're introducing, though I can't promise they'll all be sticking around for the duration (*insert evil laugh here*).
So, the summer has flown by, but there's a lot of exciting stuff coming up. In addition to my writing projects, I'm still putting out new episodes of the Secret Identity podcast every week with my pal Matt Herring. We'll be heading to TerrifiCon later this month, where I'll be moderating a Spider-Man panel featuring Dan Slott, J.M. DeMatteis, Peter David and Roger Stern, which is basically a Mount Rushmore of Spider-Man writers for me.
If you're a music fan, Antony Johnston and I just released the latest episode of our music podcast Thrash It Out, in which we discuss Type O Negative's album October Rust.
And finally, if you're into gaming, Nick Merritt and I just posted the most recent episode of the Co-Op Critics Podcast, where we discuss Blizzard's newest game Overwatch.
So as you can see, I've been keeping busy this summer. Now it's time to get back to work on Orchard Pointe, because Jolene and i cannot wait to share it with you.
This is really happening, you guys. Orchard Pointe is coming to life.
Look at that beautiful, beautiful cover. I can't stand how gorgeous it is. And I cannot stop starting at it. It's taken me a week to write this post.
I'm gonna tell you what Orchard Pointe is all about in a minute, but first I want to tell you why it's so important to me, because there are a few reasons. Most importantly, this is the second series I've written with Jolene Haley, and that's huge for me. Jolene is not only an amazing writer, but we have become great friends over the past year, and the creative partnership we have is something I am thankful for every single day. She is so much fun to work with.
Each series we write is our way of sharing the things we love with our readers--the things that made us fans of horror, suspense and the supernatural. With Harrowed, we wrote a love letter to '80s slasher films. With Orchard Pointe, we are paying homage to the great Lois Duncan (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Summer of Fear), as well as films like Something Wicked This Way Comes and shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files. It's a much different series than The Woodsview Murders, and it's one in which the setting is just as much a main character as anyone else.
Which brings me to the second reason this series is so important to me. The setting of Orchard Pointe is inspired by the area of Maine that I have spent almost every summer of my life visiting. It is as much a part of me as my hometown and the place I've lived for the past sixteen years with my family. There is something magical about Maine, and for a lot of us New Englanders, the Wells, Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach and Portland areas are a home away from home. That's certainly the case for me and my family, and my love for that area is woven into the fabric of Orchard Pointe. Those who have spent time in southern Maine will notice a lot of Orchard Pointe is inspired by places they've visited in real life. And for those that have never visited, my hope is that they will want to after spending some time in Orchard Pointe. This series is just getting started.
So, what about this story? Well, here's our book blurb:
Every town has its secrets. This town is made of them.
It’s been ten years since Hudson James stepped foot in the small beach town of Orchard Pointe. His parents are battling through a nasty divorce and he’s forced to spend the summer in Maine with extended family. But Hudson makes the most of it. He finds kindred spirits in his cousin Marley and her oddball friend Kit, and lands a security job at the amusement park he loved as a kid.
Oceanside Amusement Park was once the centerpiece of the beachfront tourist experience. But with attendance down and the park in need of an update, Orchard Pointe’s tricentennial celebration might be the last chance to turn things around. The town brings in a performance group all the way from their sister city of Monrive, France—Madame Chambers’ Coterie of Curiosities. From sideshow to burlesque acts, Madame Chambers and her eccentric group of performers mesmerize locals and tourists alike from the moment they arrive.
When a girl disappears from the park during Hudson’s very first shift, he feels responsible. When she turns up dead, Hudson can’t forgive himself. He vows to discover the truth about what happened and the more he digs, the more he’s certain that Madame Chambers and her Coterie aren’t what they seem.
Can Hudson stop the wave of darkness that has crashed down on Orchard Pointe, or will the undertow of secrets claim another victim?
The amazing Hang Le created our beautiful cover, and just like with Harrowed, she absolutely nailed the feeling Jolene and I were trying to evoke. I am continually blown away by her. You can check out more of her work over at her site, www.byhangle.com.
I am super excited to reveal the cover for my upcoming short story collection, Intrusive Thoughts. The amazing Magali Fréchette designed this cover, which really captures the feel I was looking for.
Intrusive Thoughts is a collection of short stories I've written over the past several years. There are seven stories in the collection, and this will be the first time any of them are collected in print. A few of the stories are from some blog anthologies I've been a part of over the years, a couple are loosely connected to the universes of books I've written, and the others are stories I had rattling around in my head for some time and really wanted to share.
One of the common themes that runs through these stories is that of familiar and places and everyday events being twisted into something terrifying. For the cover, I wanted to capture the feel of reality kind of shattering on the unsuspecting reader. I also wanted to work in a reference to my version of the Yellow Sign, which appears prominently in my Parted Veil series of books.
Magali is an wonderful cover designer, and she really nailed it. She's also an absolute dream to work with. At the last minute I found out that the book size I initially was planning on using wasn't available in the format I wanted, and Magali reformatted everything to the new specs before I could even finish hyperventilating. She's awesome.
Intrusive Thoughts will be released digitally and in print this September, but I'll have some print copies with me at Connecticut Horror Fest on August 27th!
Over the past month and a half, Jolene and I have been doing edits and rewrites on Orchard Pointe, and I'm happy to say we're almost there!
This past week marked a major milestone, as we finished a significant rewrite of a supporting character's storyline that affected the last third of the book.
I've mentioned before that edits and rewrites remind me of Jenga, where pulling one piece out can bring the entire structure crashing down. I think about that concept quite a bit when reading other people's work, watching movies, or even playing video games. In every creative project, there are things that are less than perfect, And through the revision and polishing process, choices always have to be made.
I always ask myself:
Will this change make the story better?
If I change this, what else does it affect? Does it break anything?
How much of the story will need to be rewritten to accommodate this change?
How does this affect the book's deadline? Is it worth delaying the book for?
There are plenty of other questions as well, but those are some of the biggies. I'm sure all creators have similar lists of questions.
Anyway, the reason I blathered on about that is to provide context for the rewrite Jolene and I just completed. A couple weeks ago, we were discussing the arc of a supporting character. And it became clear through our discussion that the character in question kind of faded in the last third of the book. Jolene had some great ideas about ways we could make it better, and we talked about the aforementioned questions of what it would take to do that. In the end, we decided that not only would the story be better for the changes, but the changes were worth it, and if we stayed on track, they could be made in our current revision schedule.
So, we did it. And looking back now, it was absolutely the right choice. The story is stronger for it, and the book feels more complete. We have also left the character in a place that we can explore in future stories, which is always a good thing.
With that rewrite out of the way, we are now in the final stages of edits for Orchard Pointe. We'll be talking a lot more about it as we get closer to release, and keep your eyes peeled for a cover reveal soon!
Last month, I told you about a new pizza-themed fiction anthology I was going to be a part of--A Pizza My Heart. Well today, I am happy to share with you the amazing cover that Haley Crosby designed for this project. I think you'll agree, it's mouth wateringly good.
If you missed my last post, here's the info on this fantastic project, which was put together by my amazing writing partner, Jolene Haley.
Book Genre: YA fiction anthology
Book release date: November 12, 2016 (National Pizza with the Works except Anchovies Day)
My love of '80s rock and metal is well documented, from the Thrash it Out podcast I do with Antony Johnston, to the Liner Notes segments that have been featured on Secret Identity for years. I went to high school from '88 to '92, so I grew up in the MTV era and was a teenager during the height of the hair metal movement.
The past ten years have seen a real resurgence of the bands I grew up listening to, and many of them are putting out music today that stands alongside the best stuff they've ever done. A lot of them are also touring again, and are just as great live as they were back in the day.
Stryper is an interesting band because many people dismissed them for their Christian themes and lyrics. As a kid who went to Catholic school through sixth grade, Stryper was the one metal band that my parents actually didn't mind me listening to. And listen to them I did. Stryper was among my favorite bands, and still is to this day.
Sadly though, I didn't get to see them live when I was a kid, because I was always too young to get into the venues they played at. The first time I actually saw them in concert was in 2009, and they were amazing.
So it was with great anticipation that I drove down to Poughkeepsie, New York this past Saturday with my pal Matt and my nine-year old son to see Stryper play at The Chance Theater, a venue that has hosted everyone from the Police to Twisted Sister to David Bowie.
Matt is the host of the Stryper podcast, and he interviewed both lead singer Michael Sweet and Guitarist Oz fox before the show. We got to tag along, which meant my son got to not only meet the guys, but to hang out on the tour bus for a bit. It will probably take him a few years to realize how amazing that moment actually was, but he was psyched to meet the band and hang out for a bit before the show.
After a few opening bands, Stryper took the stage and ripped through 22 songs that featured a great mix of old and new, as well as a few covers. I am a huge fan of The Yellow and Black Attack album, and they played three cuts from that one--"You Know What to Do," "Loud 'n' Clear" and "C'mon Rock." Of course they also played hits like "Soldiers Under Command," In God We Trust" and "To Hell With the Devil," a song for which they invited 15-year old Mariah Formica up on stage to sing lead vocals for. She was amazing. You can watch the video of that performance right here.
All in all, the show was great, the night was great, and the memory of sharing it with my son is one I will cherish forever. If you get a chance to see Stryper live, take it.