New Story, FEED, Now Available!

“He’s got that look in his eyes again, the one that only brings trouble. “Buddy,” I warn him, “cool it.”

I know he can hear me, at least on some level, but the part of him I can see is all glassy eyes and stiff body. He’s just like a hound, when he gets like this, and I get that feeling in my gut again. I know something’s going down, and soon.

My brother bobs his head absently to the music from the juke. It’s some of that C&W bullshit he’s always playing on the truck radio. I can’t stand it, myself, all heartbreak and such. Life has enough problems, believe you me, without adding more.

I know all about that.

Buddy’s leaning forward on his stool a little. His massive gut pushes up against the high table but he don’t seem to notice. The bar’s crowded tonight, men drinking off the week. Some came with their own woman. Some came with another man’s.

I get that feeling, and I know he’s seen her.”

Click on the cover to purchase, 99¢ on Amazon.

Dark Side: Seven Repulsive Stories

My first collection of scary tales is now available! Get all seven of my current e-releases for a low package price. Contains the stories:

Dump Room
Boogeyman
Screee
Mr Buster’s Bodies
Better Fat Than Dead
Overtime

and my most disturbing story yet, What’s Inside

Yeah. That last one raises some eyebrows.

An Exercise in Madness: House of Leaves

Okay, so this is a novel that I’ve been meaning to talk about. It’s one that requires its own post, and even then I’m not sure I’ll do it justice.

Ready?

The story in House of Leaves (without spoiling) goes something like this:
There’s this guy, Johnny. He’s our narrator, in a way. He finds a manuscript by a deceased old man known as Zampano. The manuscript is a book about a documentary about a family who made a documentary about their house, which is considerably bigger inside than it is outside. Oh, and it’s growing. And there are growls in the dark.

So we’re reading a book about a book about a movie about a movie. Yep.

It starts when Will Navidson, the homeowner, finds a door where there wasn’t one before. It’s inside, but on an exterior wall: so if opened, it should lead outside. Instead it opens onto a pitch-black hallway that gets longer the further you walk it.

The typesetting in the novel itself is upside down, backwards, crossed-out, different colours, encoded. The book is heavily cross-referenced to books and articles that don’t exist. It’s maddening, and fascinating, and hypnotic.

You can read it with or without Johnny, with or without solving the code. It’s several books inside one big one, and if that wasn’t layered enough, there’s an album recorded specifically to complement it.

It’s one of my favourites, by far, and up next on my re-reading list. I’ve only just begun feeling comfortable looking down dark hallways since my last read-through…it’s about time I scared the shit out of myself again.

The Joys of Editing. No, Really.

I edited the hell out of a story last night. I changed almost everything and mercilessly butchered my darlings until only the proudest were left standing. The more I edited the more I realized the first draft really had been…less than great. A little wooden and a whole lot disjointed. Shitty, to be blunt. As I was editing, I kept wondering how I’d ever liked the story in the first place.

And still, this morning, I’m pretty high on accomplishment. I love the story now. It’s decent, and it flows, and dare I say it’s even a little funny.

A huge part of why I used to give up on stories is that when you’re writing the rough draft, it’s easy to hate the story. Sometimes it’s easy to hate yourself a little, too. I’m no good at this. How the hell did I ever expect to get anywhere? It will never be good. My friends and family are just being kind and really they think I suck ass.

I’d heard all the quotes from famous authors belittling the first draft, bitching about how the first draft sucks, will always suck. I heard it, but I didn’t believe it. Surely, these incredible artists were just being modest, or were venting their frustrations hyperbolically.

It took me a long while, years, to feel the truth of what I’d been hearing.

So from someone who’s not a famous author (yet), if you’re teetering on the precipice, pay attention: it sucks. It will suck, hard. But the joy is in fixing all those what-the-hells, smoothing and sticking together the jagged bits with Bondo and silly-string and whatever else you keep in your bag of tricks.

Now I realize that the worse the rough, the more fun it is to attack it in editing. Now you have a basic plan in mind, a beginning-middle-end of some sort, and you get to run in there, machete swinging, and mercilessly mow down anything that invaded your story’s territory when you weren’t looking. Stupid character? Whack ’em. Boring part? Light something on fire and watch ’em panic. The best part is seeing what you can do to mix it up a little.

So take joy in your shitty first drafts. Look forward to the cruel revenge you will take on anything that dares not be good. Keep a metaphorical knife in your teeth and madman’s glimmer in your eye. Love it, or strike it dead.