Friday, December 31, 2010

And the Winner is??????

And the winner is?
Okay. Okay. Hang on a second. 
I know you're all eager to find out who won the Christmas Twiction writing contest, but I need to catch my breath here. I'm winded. Seriously, that was tough. I never expected that judging a small contest like this would be so difficult; there was something that I loved about every entry. Some were very poetic, funny, dark, thrilling, and I must say, clever. 

It's not easy to write a story that short...with a limited number of characters, let alone words. So I have to hand it to you...all of you. You all did an exceptional job putting together these short episodes. 


Now, on to the important stuff. But first, (I know - the suspense is killing you, but don't kill the messenger, or you'll never know who won) I want to give each participant a moment to shine and to recognize them. If you do not know these folks, they are all excellent writers and poets, some budding, some blooming. Here they are. Please give them a round of applause and patronize their websites....
All of these writers did wonderfully and judging their work against each other about killed me. But I had to pick one, right? 

The entries at the top of my list were...
  • Marcus Hades: Loved the twist Marcus. It was sad and dark and I really liked that.
  • Jemima Valentino: I didn't think I'd get another entry as good as yours.
  • Arlene Radasky: Flesh & blood characters from another time. I wanted to read the book!
  • Ami Hendrickson: I like the story - grandpa up on the roof - very clever.
  • Kate M John: I was tittilated and grossed out. You painted a great scene!
  • Jaque Thay: If I ever need to execute the Easter Bunny, I'll be sure to give you a call. Nice work.
  • William Esmont: I can't get the jingle-jingle from that zombie out of my head.
  • Ranee Dillon: Nice prose. I felt as if I was there by the fire, warming my hands, listening to you. 
And now... the winners are... It's a three-way tie! 

Arlene Radasky     Marcus Hades      Jemima Valentino

Doing what you three did with Twiction, is very commendable. Great job, Arlene, Marcus and Jemima! All 3 of you win a FREE book cover design by me if you're interested, and a FREE copy of my short suspense, The Rumblin'.

But wait! The rest of the contestants can get a free copy of The Rumblin' as well. I know it's not much, but you all worked hard and frankly, I'm a poor writer with nothing else to give. Great job! Next week I'll have guest blogger, Molly Campbell, an avid reader, tell you what she is looking for in a good book.

Hope you all have a great New Year and be sure to follow The Writing Bomb.

All participants can get your free copy here... The Rumblin'  BOOM!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twitter Writing Contest!

Hello, My Dear Blogger Friends

This post is going to be especially fun, because I am hosting a Writing Contest

Why? Because if you visit here frequently, you already know how I write - smooth, energized, well paced prose leaning on the darker side of literary perfection. Egh - egh - caugh - gag! Scuse me - choked.

Seriously, I want to get a taste of your writing for a change. So here's the deal: If you are on Twitter, all you have to do is write a series of Tweets that when put together make a short-short-story. If you're not a Tweeter, a "tweet" is a string of words no longer than 140 characters total; including spaces and punctuation. The stories should be no less than 3 Tweets and no more than 5 Tweets. All stories must have a Christmas theme - beginnning, end, and must maintain a pg-13 rating; some of my creative writing students follow me. They can be scary, funny, suspenseful or inspirational. And for all you poets out there, they can be in poetic format as well. Next, paste them in the comments section below. It's that easy.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

So what's the Prize, you ask? I hope it's worth the trouble, but I'm offering a A FREE BOOK COVER DESIGN for your next or in process book (ebook or otherwise) - front cover only; I don't do splines and backs. The picture to the right is an example of my work and is the cover of one of my forthcoming novels. Not writing a book? Not interested in a cover? How about a FREE COPY OF THE RUMBLIN', my suspense short-story? Better yet, how about both? Okay. Deal.

Here's an example of what I'm looking for. I posted this a few days ago on Twitter to kind of get the feel for it. It's not a Christmas story, but you'll get the idea....

      The War of the Words by Jeff Bennington

  • Words splash in my eyes like raindrops, dripping, wetting my lips. I taste them. I speak to them and they come to life, roaring back at me.
  • Big words, little words, scurry about with their claws out, chasing me into a corner. They screech and cry out to me...take me, take me!
  • I laugh at the evil little letters with ax in hand. Do as I say, or I'll hack your apostrophe off! Do you hear me, you little bastards?
  • The little things scuttle into corners and cower in fear. One by one they recede into the crevices, slithering back into their dark-hell.
  • They'll be back. I'll wait - sitting here with my ax.
So there you have it. The Writing Bomb's first contest with tangible giveaways worth over $100! If you have any questions, post them. If I'm unclear about something, let me know. If you want to bribe me - feel free! Good luck and may the best writer win! 
Contest ends Christmas Day - December 25th.  
Oh, and by the way, I get to pick the winner, but I'll probably pick it according to popular vote; that is if any one dares to comment. And I'm very sensitive, so if no one enters, I will feel very bad about myself and probably get an early start on my winter depression, and you don't want to do that to me - do you? BOOM!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Spiritually Self-Medicating

Hi folks! I wrote this poem to submit to One Stop and I thought I'd share it with you. And just so you know, I've been working on a non-fiction with the same title. I hope you enjoy this poem and post lots and lots of comments and share it with a gazillion of your closest friends and family! BOOM!

Spiritually Self-Medicating
By Jeff Bennington

The needle slides, it burns, it stings.
In my veins no greater thing.
The fluid flows, my soul it sings.
I’m spiritually self-medicating.

I feel the rush that splits my mind.
No matter what it is I find.
I need the hit to help unwind.
I’m spiritually self-medicating.

I run the race and make it fast.
Driving, pushing, never last.
To hell with losing toys amassed.
I’m spiritually self-medicating.

No liquid or a leaf I need.
I have my one and only speed.
My hurt, my pain, my burdens bleed.
When I’m spiritually self-medicating.

Dollar signs make my blood flow.
Adrenalin rush’ll make me whole.
More cash to stash in my payroll.
If I’m spiritually self-medicating.

God, He prays with bended knee.
That I’d look up to Him and see.
A world where I refuse to be.
Spiritually self-medicating.

The cavernous aches and hurts within.
Never seem to look like sin.
They rot and fester deep within.
When I’m spiritually self-medicating.
Spiritually self-medicating.
I’m spiritually self-medicating!

Searching, searching all the time.
For something in me that’s divine.
Empty, empty’s all I find.
I’m spiritually self-medicating.

Not love or lust or sex can shake.
The feeling that I want to make.
Be damned my soul for goodness sake.
I’m spiritually self-medicating.

Not north nor south or west it be.
This blackhole’s on a binging spree.
It sucks the very life from me.
‘Cause I’m spiritually self-medicating.

Yet one day when I’m in the grave
With pennies and my soul to save.
I’ll wish and wish and hope and crave.
To be spiritually self-medicating.
Spiritually self-medicating.
I’m spiritually self-medicating!

Thanks for reading! If you like this, comment and follow me. I always reciprocate!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Hi. Jeff here.
I am excited to have a guest blogger here today, the first of many with a little something to say to writers and a little something to say to readers. So without further adieu, I'd like to introduce George Pappas, the author of Monogamy Sucks, to discuss how he overcame his fears of publishing.

George Pappas

Overcoming fears and doubts is one of the toughest challenges a writer faces.
If you don’t believe in your own work, why should anyone else?

Easier said than done.

My own fears and doubts kept my novel Monogamy Sucks, which was recently published as an e-book by Lazy Day Publishing, in my computer for more than 12 years. I kept never showed my work to anyone -- not even my closest friends or family.

I personally was afraid that no one would grasp my novel’s vision or understand what I was trying to do -- explore the limits of monogamy through the eyes of a liberated male who goes on a taboo bending journey.

It wasn’t just that I was dealing with controversial subjects, but that I was also challenging the status quo of monogamy and writing my novel from an edgy male perspective.

Questions haunted me.

Would I turn off potential female readers? Would readers be put off my novel’s explicit material? Would they enjoy and be amused by my main character Jake Dalmas’ dark and sarcastic sense of humor which is the core of my book?

Yet as I am discovering these days, female readers have taken more to my book than male readers have. However, I didn’t know if that would be the case at the time.

I worried if there was a market for my controversial novel.  My first novel Letters From Cyberspace, which I self-published, was ignored, and it was a book written from the female point of view. I also had a frustrating experience in trying to find an agent and publisher for my first book and doubted if it would be any easier with this novel.

Additionally, I was reluctant to relinquish control over the content of my novel. So all of this fear conspired to keep my novel under wraps for years as I worked on draft after draft waiting to bring it out myself.

Earlier this year, I finally decided after much consideration to bring out my novel one chapter at a time on a dedicated blog --

I had seen a photo feature on the Huffington Post about how many bestsellers started out as blogs. I figured what did I have to lose? Still, in the weeks and days shortly before and after my novel’s May 2010 blog launch, I dreaded what people might think.

All of my worst fears proved unfounded. 

I didn’t find a group of haters waiting to attack me and my novel, but instead found supporters and potential readers. What ultimately surprised me was the overwhelming positive response I received to my blog novel. Readers praised my novel’s humor. They mentioned how they could relate to Jake’s foibles and experiences and wanted to read the entire book. Two months into my blog novel experiment, Lazy Day Publishing, a new digital publisher, offered to publish my novel. It was more than I ever could have imagined.

What did I learn from all this that I can suggest to my fellow writers? 

Bring some sunshine into your private writing world. Embrace the Internet. Start a blog and begin blogging about your writing experiences, and even more importantly, reveal some of your writing online. Build up your own readership and supporters. Go on Twitter and Facebook and meet fellow writers and potential publishing contacts and readers.

Writers no longer need to languish in isolation and obscurity wondering if anyone will ever care about their writing projects. A new writing destiny can now be at your fingertips. You can truly make it your own. The DIY revolution that made Punk Rock and independent filmmaking so thrilling has taken over the publishing industry.

Join it.

George Pappas  
Twitter: @gpwriter @jakedalmas 
Blog: http:\\ 
Publisher: http:\\ 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gotta Start Somewhere

Stephen King started writing stories for a school paper. Dean Koontz started his publishing career in 1968 writing science fiction and porn. Charles Dickens started writing for newspapers. All wonderful writers - all gifted storytellers - and all started at the bottom with a long way to the top.

If you haven't read On Writing, by Stephen King, you should. It tells the truth about what it takes to get published, the long hours and energy put forth into a passion nearly abandoned and how close Stephen came to quitting (God help us all). In the book, he confesses that he was ready to quit his pursuit, that he threw his breakthrough novel, Carrie, in the trash, and that he prepared to return to teaching full time frustrated by his lack of success.

We all know the end of King's story, and it turns out quite well, however, it was a long and tiresome road. As I thought about King's start I realized how different today's society is from the time he was a boy. In those days, people worked harder, had fewer toys, fewer expectations and dreams that seemed bigger than themselves. Today, we live in a world where we expect everything 4G, high speed and on demand. We see reality tv stars popping up every new season and major contracts and book deals coming out of Simon & Schusters ask! If that's the way things are, I'm cool with that. The problem is, as writers we have been infected by the "I want it now" mentality and it is causing us to rush into the publishing scene to our discredit. No judgment here, I'm as guilty as anyone.

We all know that when we finish our masterpiece, we look at it as if it's made of 99.9% pure gold. I don't know exactly how that works, but we seem to see what we want to see in our early work and have this perception that if we write something, we deserve to be published. Period. Then we go though this period of getting our feelings hurt and our pride smashed when we realize we were wrong, when rejection letters come in by the thousands, and when we realize no one wants to buy our book other than a few compassionate friends and family. When that happens we either plow straight through the criticism, angry and disillusioned, or we pursue the craft with even greater eagerness, through study and peer review with an open mind.

Enter the world of POD publishers, ebooks and online self-publishers. They make the dream of publishing seem so real, so close, so tangible, promising world-wide distribution and marketing assistance to get our book out into the four corners of the globe! Oh, brother, give me a break. The road to publishing is not fast and furious. It's slow. It's relational. It's tedious. It's a crescendo.

It has taken me a couple of years to figure this out. My writing keeps improving with every stroke of my pen, but I still don't have the deal, even though I think I should. And don't we all? But hey, no matter what happens, I'm not going to quit writing and neither should you. We can decide to self-publish or stay the course, navigating our way to a book deal, but the writing must continue. We have to walk through the kiln, the purifying flames of the craft, until we have no more words inside. Should we take advantage of today's technology and hurry up and get our PDF's formatted for Kindle? Maybe. Maybe we'll miss a very big bandwagon if we don't. However, let's never forget that writers are part of a trade that requires us to put in our time, training, building relationships, and much study if we want our very best in print. So no matter how you share your work...go the distance and give your readers what they deserve...your best. BOOM!

PS- I will have a few guest bloggers discussing their writing journeys over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more encouragement and tips!

Monday, December 6, 2010

"The Matrix is a System - The System is our Enemy" - Morpheus

If you're a writer, you have to ask yourself at some point if you simply want to see your book in print or if you want to go the distance and get published traditionally. As Agent Smith from The Matrix says, "It is inevitable." But here in the real world, we can't slip into the Matrix or create an alternate reality!

Or can we?

With the onslaught of e-book readers and the endless websites that publish digitally (Amazon, B&N,, Smashwords, Google ebooks, etc), it is very tempting to throw some words on the screen and ship them off to the Kindle store, hoping to not miss out on the Kindle, Nook, iPad craze. And honestly, if you're as impatient as I am, it's extra tempting to rush that book into print.

What to do in this crazy publishing environment - so many voices - so many unknowns.

Amid all the chaos, the real question is, can writers gain credibility in the new ebook marketplace, with a good format, cover, and good editing, without the agent and big Pub backing? Can we pay our dues, and build our platform successfully on our own? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm asking, because it is quite clear that the world of publishing is changing rapidly and I am very interested in how it's going to pan out for authors such as myself. Authors have to market their work on their own anyway, unless you're a proven best seller, so why not go it alone?

Historically, traditional publishing is the best way to gain credibility as an author. The problem is, it's getting harder to get a manuscript into the right agent or publisher's hands. Therefore, I'd like to propose a theory.

I believe that a well edited, self-published author can use today's ebook market to get a book deal by building a following, little by little, gaining new readers with each new book, and proving his or her ability to sell. You have to build your platform first anyway, or so it seems, so why not develop a following, slowly, until publishers and/or agents have no choice but to notice you, hoping to get a piece of the action. Think of the experience you'll gain writing and producing your work and learning the publishing business, all the while gaining fans and making more money per book! Heck, it's all about the money to the publishers anyway.

They may disregard you today...but show them the money, and guess what they'll be kissing?

Examples of self-publishers who are doing this, according to JA Konrath are: Viki Tyley, John Locke, D.B. Henson, and Steven Davison among others. Konrath has a "Top 20 Self-Published Authors" list that is filled with top 100 Kindle authors who are doing as well as or better than he is in sales. This is very encouraging for me, because honestly, I have a lot of stories that I need to get out of my head, my readers like what I write, and I want to give them more.

I'm not sure if I want to wait until Hell freezes over before I get a contract.

My thoughts are: If you have to go it alone, building your platform one fan at a time, you have to ask yourself; do I really need the publishers anyway? In the words of Trinity from the Matrix, "The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to."

CASE IN POINT: I wrote this post a few months ago. Since that time I have had my supernatural thriller, REUNION, edited, published with my own publishing company (Nexgate) and scheduled a 45 day blog tour. The result: REUNION is getting an incredible response from reviewers across the country.

To see those early reviews go to:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Write About Life...When it Happens.

Nothing enlivens my spirit more than when my kids do something funny or my family shares a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing experience. And that, my friends, is the perfect time to the heat of the moment...immediately following the excitement...while falling from the cliff. Well, that might not be the best idea, but you get what I'm sayin'.

Available ONLY in Kindle Format
In following this rule I have to tell you about a short story I wrote based on actual events that I experienced with my family. 

Here's what happened...I took my family camping in the summer of 2010 and fully expected nice weather. However, when a dangerous storm blew in, and I mean seriously dark billowing clouds, we were ushered into a camp store cellar with the other vacationers. It was cramped and cold and my kids began asking about the other campers, wondering if they were safe - some of them were a little scary - some of them had creepy beety eyes. I couldn't resist, the story teller in me weaved the terrifying tale of The Rumblin'. 

This horrific short-story is not about murder and violence, although it certainly contains its fair share of brutality, it does underscore the fact that we all have a dark side, but also that good will reign over evil.

Here's a short blurb...In this short story, Phil Knite is so ready for a vacation, but he and his family get more of mother nature than they can handle. The rumblin, as described by the Camp Ranger, is something to be feared. However, Phil blows the strange redneck-ranger off and heads to bed. Later that night, when a wicked wind blows in from the north, Phil is forced to shack up with the rest of the campers and learns that the Ranger is more than crazy, but he was right about the's deadly! And so is this Stephen King style short story. With a small cast of fun loving characters, The Rumblin will leave you wondering if the strangers around you are out for blood, and if the next rumble of thunder is life threatening. The Rumblin is a great fireside, nailbiting, intensive read!

This short-story is based on actual events! It's creepy. It's Stephen King'ish. And it's a quick read. If you've got a Kindle, you can get it for ONLY .99. So be a Pal and share the love and get a copy. It's a great way to get aquainted with my writing, and to get excited about what I have up my sleeve...two great paranormal thrillers that are currently finding a publishing home, hoping to find their way into your hands.

All to say, be sure to keep a pad of paper and pencil handy so you can jot down your writing ideas and capture that literary Kodak moment when it really counts. Sometimes the best ideas come from real experiences. BOOM!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Road to Craziville

Everyone's heard the old cliche', so much to do, so little time, right? Well it's true; we live in an overactive world where we throw so much stuff on our backs that we practically collapse by the weight of it all. This, I believe, is especially true for writers, most of which are still working their day jobs.

Imagine, working 40+ hours or more, taking care of your home, preparing meals, cutting the grass, doing dishes, doing the laundry, raising your kids, snuggling your spouse, and if you can imagine, writing a novel or string of short stories in your spare time. Does that sound overwhelming? Sound impossible? Oh just wait; it only gets better! The road to publication leads straight to crazyville. Trust me.

As busy and overcrowded as our social calenders are today, writers have to do soooo much more. Really, it's quite ridiculous what a dedicated, craft-perfecting,  publishing world understudy, platform building writer must do to not only get in print, but to actually sell a book or two. If you think writing 60,000-120,000 words every six months or once a year is a lot to add to your itinerary, get a load of this "To-Do List". The following is a run down of all the things that literary-artists must do throughout the process of not only writing a book, but getting it into print, into the beloved reader's hands. Major disclosure here: I only have one book in print and one short story in the Kindle store. However, I have written two other novels that are either under publisher consideration or in revision. Here's the list (wears me out just thinking about it):
  • Create - We first have to create/dream up our idea, design characters, plot, research and finally write lots of words that make sense, are fun or thought provoking, and enjoyable to read.
  • Next, writers have to go back through the entire manuscript with a fine-toothed-comb once, twice, three times or more, adding flavor and color and fill in the holes with meaningful and emotionally ingniting details.
  • After, or perhaps while we add the salt and pepper, we have to self-edit, which of course is another realm all its own, one that requires much study and reading to really be a good self-editor.
  • Once we are happy with our masterpiece (which is an oxymoron - we're never 100% happy with our work) we usually send the manuscript to a few trusted readers who will be cutthroatingly honest with us, so they can show us all the mistakes we missed. And then of course, we have to revise the work all over again. Do you see how tedious this is?
  • Okay, so now the book is done, or so we think. With much excitement, we print it off and send it to a large publisher who is overjoyed that we have graced them with our wonderful story! Pffft! Yeah right! Don't even think about it, unless your a bestseller like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or some other celebrity. Oh, no. Regular writers have much to do before the manuscript gets into the hands of an editor or agent. Yes, we still have a long road ahead. 
  • We have to write a query letter (Uh huh,whatever that is), a short and a long synopsis and we have to do lots of research just to find the right agent or publisher, only to discover that 90% of them will stamp a big red REJECT on our baby, our magnum opus, our  chef-d'œuvre! What are they thinking???
  • Then hopefully, enter the "We'd like to read the full manuscript" response (And you'll be glad to know I have a book in that stage right now. Yes I'm excited.), which hopefully will lead to publication.
  • But wait! There's more! Whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, you still have more editing, more revisions, book art, back blurbs to write, website building, Twittering, Facebooking, contact making, writer's confrerencing, press releasing, book signings, video making and blogging tours to do!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhh! Make it stop! Please, make it STOP!
See, I told you this was dangerous territory. And you know what's more? Most writers continue writing their next book in between all that other stuff. It's amazing really. Brings a tear to my eye everytime I think about it (mostly because writing has driven me bananas). Why do it then, you ask? Well, that's a bit complicated and most likely has a wide range of answers depending on the author. Some write for money or fame or creative/emotional release or just for the love of the story. For me, it's all of the above, not necessarily in that order. And yet...the writers of the world pursue their passion for the pen at their own peril. And if you're a reader, know this; in the words of Bryan Adams, we do it all for you. BOOM! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Preview of TEN DEAD, a Paranormal Thriller. Chapter 1, Scene 1

I've been working on my latest paranormal thriller, Ten Dead, and wanted to give you a glimpse into what I've been up to. I'll start sending it to editors and agents within the next few weeks. Here's a glimpse of the first scene, starting from the beginning. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Ten Dead
By Jeff Bennington                                                                                                                                     
Chapter 1
Detective Rick Burns slammed on the brakes and stepped out of his rusty red Pontiac. He gazed into the crowd, took a deep breath and recalled the other murders. The heaviness, the blood, the darkness had finally pricked its sharp edge into his soul. He peered into the night and wondered, no, he feared, that this one would be like the others.
Red and blue lights enveloped his body and danced across the frightened neighbors that had gathered together, shaking and shivering. The car door let out a lingering squeak, slammed shut and he walked forward.
Rick lifted the crime scene tape, rushed past an ambulance and heard a woman whimpering. He turned his head, continued forward and studied her face with twisted brow.
“Teary and swollen,” he whispered to himself.  “Shocked at best, but not grief stricken.”
He examined her slow, careful movements as she gingerly wiped her tears. Her eyes lacked the hollow, desperately confused grief that he’d seen far too often. Lady of the house, or mistress perhaps, it mattered not, something about her seemed amiss. He pulled his notepad and pen from his jacket pocket and scribbled a few words regarding his first suspect: female caucasian, mid-fifties, pinstriped suit, stilettos, shoulder-length red hair, five-foot-eight, no blood visible, September 23, 9:30 p.m.
The detective weaved through the crowd of wealthy onlookers wrapped in lush throw blankets, Swiss satin pajamas, and lama-lined slippers. They watched and whispered. Fearful murmurs and conjectures splashed his ears amongst the waves of apprehension. He listened to their wonderings and walked on.
As he approached the home it was clear that he stood out from the other cops. Although he had a higher pay grade than the first responding officers, his running shoes, faded jeans, wrinkled t-shirt and patchwork sport coat made him look more like a down-on-his-luck-reporter than an eight-year veteran of the Indianapolis Police Department. But that was Rick Burns. He cared little for appearances. In his line of work, he found that appearances, more often than not, were deceiving.
He walked through the moistened grass and noticed that a second story window was open and the room illuminated. The house was a lovely Meridian Street classic with intricately stacked Bedford stone, copper gables and staggered limestone quoins. He could smell the fresh scent of glory maple and the last of the purple pansies at the base of the stamped-concrete entrance. He took one last look before entering. The elegant contours, lines, and lighting looked great from the outside. To Rick Burns, however, it appeared beautifully deceiving.
The detective opened the glass entry door, observed that the doorjamb had not been tampered with, and approached a group of officers gathered at the base of the stairway.
“Which way, fellas?” he asked.
They pointed toward the stairs. Rick noticed their disturbed behavior, arms crossed, eyes reeling in fear. Officer Nick Carmichael, the rookie, had recently vomited and was busy wiping the acidic residue from his chin.
One officer called, “Hey, Burns!”
The detective stopped. “Yeah?”
The cop shook his head. “It’s not pretty.”
Rick’s eyes jetted back and forth, observing the dread in the remaining officer’s expressions. “On a scale from one to ten; what’ve we got?” he asked.
The officer scratched his forehead. “Twelve. Maybe thirteen.” He looked directly into Rick’s eyes. Rick felt as if he were trying to warn him, offering an unspoken heads-up into the dreaded scene that awaited his inspection.
The detective looked up the stairway and imagined the grisly scene. He reached into his pants pocket and grabbed a bag of sunflower seeds and popped a handful into his mouth and sucked on the salty shells. Six dead in two years, he thought. And all on my watch. He swallowed, nearly choking on the apple sized lump in his throat.
 “Game’s on, boys.” He headed up the steps and slapped his hands together. “Time to get dirty.”
Throughout his career, he knew what to say to keep his fearless detective image intact, but the words never soothed his spirit. He took a deep breath and his heart raced in anticipation of the unknown...

I'll send out a few more excerpts to my blog followers over the next few weeks.  If you know anyone interested in this type of book, share this blog with them. Thanks and I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Four Great Books to Improve Your Prose!

Writing is fun and easy...Good writing takes work....a lot of work!

I’m posting this because I’m so stoked about everything I’ve learned about writing in the last year that I want to share it with you (Yes, I've been doing a lot of reading along with my writing). And if you’re a writer or want to write, you’ll want to pay attention! So, are you paying attention? Good, because what I'm about to tell you can make you a better writer, I promise.
In keeping with that promise, I have a preface, and that is...if you want to write good fiction, you have to educate yourself and study the craft of writing. Although I write suspense, I am currently reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.

 To begin with, good writing starts with reading lots of good literature and writing lots of words, but that's another post all together and it's covered in lots of other blogs, so I won't rant about writing and reading. I will, however, tell you about four books that I've read that have improved my prose ten fold (in my opinion). They are as follows: On Writing by Stephen King, Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, Writing like the Masters by William Cane, and On Writing Horror by The Horror Writer’s Association (You don’t need to write horror to benefit from this one). These are all excellent books and I’ll tell you why. So if you write, you’ll want to get these books. I'm sure there are others and I'd like to know about them, but I read these and I think they're a great place to start.

  • The first book that I read about writing was suggested to me by my first editor Jodie Renner: Revision and Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell. I hear you...revision... boring! Well, actually, it is not as boring as it sounds. James does a great job teaching many of the common mistakes writers make and how to clean up your manuscript all by yourself. This is a must read if you have written a manuscript that needs a little TLC or not.

  • The next book on my hit list is On Writing by Stephen King. First of's by Stephen King! What more is there to say? Like him or hate him, he's sold a lot of books and there are lots of good reasons why. On Writing covers much of his writing process and the things you should avoid stylistically, but the thing I loved the most about this book is hearing his story. That's right, this book is 1/3 autobiography, 2/3 education. And actually, the autobiography is an education in patience, and how the publishing business works. Very cool, especially if you're a King fan.

  • Another book I recommend is Writing like the Masters by William Cane. This book is will transform the way you look at your writing. It is more or less a study of the methods and styles of all the great authors of modernity, and teaches what the masters did/do that makes/made them great. Cane covers the whole gamut of masters from Faulkner to Balzak, from Dickens to Hemingway, and Bradbury and Orwell and Melville to King. He covers every style and genre and teaches exactly what each one does/did that made/makes their writing unique. This book will teach you how to integrate their methods into your own unique voice and give you an appreciation for the classics. If you hate classic literature, you could potentially hate this book. However, if you love writing, you will learn to like the classics after reading this. I'll be the first to admit that I never heard of Balzac or Dostoevsky before I read this, but I've read them now and appreciate each one. You will too!

  • Finally, I want you to know about On Writing Horror by The Horror Writer's Association. Believe it or not, this hidden jem was tucked away deep in the literary mine of my local library, but I dug it up, brushed off the dust and couldn't put it down. Don't let the title scare you! This book is anything but horrifying. It was written by over twenty top selling authors and editors and is bursting with great information and very specific techniques for improving your writing. After I return this book, I fully intend on purchasing it as a full time reference book; it's that good.

So there you have it; four great books that will make you a better writer. And if you think writing comes naturally for some of us, you may be right, but good writing takes a lot of work! BOOM!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's Your Story?

It is my firm belief that there is a writer in each of us – a writer with a very unique story to tell. And how you tell it, is what makes you unique.

When I realized I enjoy writing enough that I should do it on a regular basis, something clicked inside me, like a cog, perfectly inline with my inner workings. It felt right, and I have since discovered how much of my story is in the stories I write. The ideas flow in and out of my mind as I live with my wife and four children. The words often come from those crazy moments when we are all packed into our Chevy Impala. You heard right. All six of us cram into an Impala (with a bench seat of course): 2 adults, 3 rapidly expanding boys and our darling little girl, who incidentally gets mercilessly squashed more often than not. Poor thing!

Sometimes, I think, “What if _________?” (fill in the blank) and off I go, musing over another idea.  If I’m lucky, the idea is entered into my black book. From there I make a few scrambled notes, and organize a general plot summary, and then I walk away (“Break the wrist and walk away” – Napoleon Dynamite. Sorry I had to add that). It’s like writing has become a third arm, second head, or some other dimensional extension of who I thought I was. The story is always on my mind. It’s always moving through me, questioning my last paragraph, my last line, my last scene of dialogue – almost as if it’s genetic. And perhaps it is. People have always been storytellers, verbally passing down histories, and ancestral narratives. I’m no different, I guess.

Today we love movies and books and magazines. Stories are what entertain us and keep our minds busy when we decide to put our feet up and look at the world from a different perspective – from the eyes of the storyteller. I think that explains why we are so interested in reality TV. We crave the story, fact, fiction, or grossly unrealistic, it doesn’t matter. The wilder the better!

Don’t feel bad, or less if you’re a reality TV junkie! I love the story too. In fact, as much as I love writing fiction, I actually prefer true stories! But for some strange reason, I love the mystical, spiritual, and paranormal realities of this world. I love writing about the spiritual angst that we all feel and wonder and worry about. What if there are ghosts? Where exactly is Heaven and Hell? How do we co-exist if these dimensional realities clash directly with our own existence? And how do our inner struggles move us closer to, or further away from God? These are all questions that are part of my story and likely part of yours.

I know first hand that writing has given me a sense of myself that I’ve never known.  What about you? Have you started your own story, or tucked your writing away? If so, I’d urge you to get back to it, for your sake and for the sake of anyone who needs that word that only you can give them – a word written from your heart, that’s meant for others to read.

Let me know about your long lost story. What’s it about? How were you inspired? What keeps you from going forward? Maybe this blog was written just for you, to encourage and inspire you. I hope so! BOOM!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Making Something From a Tintinnabulation?

Do you mean to tell me that tintinnabulation is a word, a real word? Yes it is. And I am so glad I found it in the dark recesses of my thesaurus. Here's what happened...

While shuffling through the many words that make a metallic ringing sound – the sound a stainless steel kitchen knife would make if it hit the ground, I found something very special. It started with words like ping, clang, ting, ring and ding. And then out of nowhere, this huge, double-edged word rushes me like a bull in heat and knocked me off my feet!

I saw stars. I felt dizzly. My eyes grew bigger than an alpine grizzly! And yes, God and all of his angels appeared before me holding this golden word, shining like the radiant beams of Sirius. It read…TINTINNABULATION (tin-tin-nab-u-la-tion). I shook my head and readjusted my focus. Was it true, I wondered? Is there really such a word? Could Webster actually create such an aberration? The answer was yes. But would it fit? Would it sound right? Is it too freakish to actually use in a work of fiction? These were my musings, but the angels bit their tongues. All I could do was try it out. I did. I looked. I peered. I bent closer to it and contemplated its appearance and locution. And wouldn’t you know it…it worked! (Well, at least I think so)

I even re-read an excerpt from Whispers by Dean Koontz to test the waters and found similarly striking words; not that I’m trying to imitate him; I just know he has a prodigious vocabulary. Anyway…here’s what I came up with and I hope you like it. I’ve added the previous paragraph to sort of put you in context. This is from a novel I’m currently working on. It’s tentatively titled Footprints, but I think that’s gonna change.

….He shook his head side-to-side and Anita’s head mirrored his motions, only with a greater intensity. The violent movements whipped her skull back and forth as if her deceased husband had risen from the grave to pound her flesh for another minor infraction. The rain washed over her, and she painfully cried out to Benji as her face showed signs of bruising and tearing.
Rick watched as she screamed, and noticed a stream of blood run out of her nose and across the top of her upper lip, diluted by the splashing water. Then without warning, the hand holding the knife twisted and broke upwards in a mangled deformation, severing her ligaments, ripping her flesh and crushing her metacarpals. Anita shrieked and the knife clanged with a tintinnabulation as it hit the ground….

Ahhh yeep, that’s it. That’s all I wanted to tell ya. But isn't tintinnabulation a good word? I think it's one of those words that actually sound like its meaning. Can't you hear the metal clang, ting, and ringing against the pavement when you read it? I can. And I was just so excited to share this incredible word that I stopped everything just to write this short blog entry. 

What about you? Do you have any fabulously favorite words? Let me know. BOOM!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Story Behind the Story

Someone once said, “Every book has a story behind it,” and I believe it. I recently started a discussion thread on Amazon, asking other writers to share their story behind their book. I got a ton of responses ranging from alien abduction, and abuse to a longing to come home. They were all interesting narratives about the inspirational moment when they decided to write their book.

I’ve had many of those moments, but honestly, most of them were ideas that simply popped into my head for no good reason. However, some of my book ideas were inspired by meaningful moments in my life…and one of them was a scary moment. That’s right. It was, dare I say, a Stephen King moment that inspired me to write a grizzly short story that I published in the Kindle store.

What happened you ask? Well, I took my family camping this summer fully expecting a weekend of nice weather. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for us. After setting up camp and roasting some hotdogs, the sunny weather took a dark and windy turn. A storm blew in and we were ushered into a camp store cellar (compliments of the Park Ranger) with the other vacationers. It was cramped and cold and my kids began asking about the other campers, wondering if they were safe, which was ironic because I was wondering the same thing. At that point, I couldn't resist, the storyteller in me weaved the terrifying tale of  The Rumblin' by spontaneously creating fictional characters out of the other campers. It was a priceless moment seeing the frightened looks on my kids faces after learning that the little old lady with the poodle was packin’ heat! 

The point is, stories always come from somewhere: dreams, nightmares, experiences, questions, etc. But the real test of a writer’s gumption is his or her ability to plot and draft and organize those ideas into characters and a setting that has meaning, and an emotional impact on the reader. And that’s where creativity and a personal attachment to the book come into play. I find that the more meaningful the idea is to me, the more interested I am in taking the idea all the way to completion. For example, Killing the Giants, was inspired after hours of shop talk and debate over who is really running our country, and 20th (not yet published), was birthed because I wondered what would become of children effected by school shootings such as the Columbine massacre. And I have others – a black book full of ideas actually.

So if you ever have a good idea for a book, just send out a telepathic message and I’ll let you know what I think. Or, you could jot it down and start your own black book – a black book of dreams and nightmares and questions and… those precious moments in your life that you don’t ever want to forget. BOOM!