My Writing – 2016 Overview


old-cemetery-rain

 

Here’s an overview of my horror fiction writing and published works for the year 2016

 


October 31st

My most recent published stories were in Subcutaneous Magazine for which there are two of my stories in one issue.

The Room, The Woman is a very personal tale about the thought of death and the willingness of one that is ill and his want to welcome the concept of death.

After approving the first story which is flash fiction (under 1k words) the editor asked if I had any longer stories. I sent her, Wax Dolls, which is a story of witchcraft fictionally tied into a story of murder that many would find familiar.

read it for free, here: Subcutaneous Magazine, Issue 2 – Fall 2016

subcutaneous-magazine-2 wax-dolls-pic

 


 

October 16th

My modern tale, Dead Song, was published in Moon Books presents Horror Anthology – 2016, sharing company with Joe R Lansdale and Jonathan Maberry. The story is about an antique/pawn shop that comes across a very unusual item, one which evil forces desire to control.

Check it out here:
Moon Books Horror Anthology 2016

moon-books-horror-anthology-2016-small antiques-pic


September 30th

I had my flash fiction piece, Blinded, published on Cemetery Tomes. The story is only 300 words, one of many short fiction pieces that capture similar aspects of the moment of death.

Read it for Free, here: Blinded – by author Michael Thomas-Knight

bleed-room-dark-red

 


July 2nd

My existential serial killer/urban legend story, Urban Legend #9 was published in Siren’s Call eZine, issue #27. I was very glad to get this story published as a reprint after the original site it was published with deleted all their stories. It is difficult to get a serial killer story published these days but the story has enough of a nuance that helped it to get published twice.

You can read it or download the .pdf here: The Sirens Call eZine #27

sirens-call-ezine-27dark_room


June 17th

On June 17th the short story, Skin Job was released as my first stand-alone offering (with no other stories) by Pleasant Storm Entertainment. The story followed the mythology of Terry M. West’s Car-Nex creation, (Carnivore from the Nexus) and I was one of eight writers invited to create a new story involving Terry’s original ideas and concepts.

But, I’m sure you all heard enough about this during the summer when I was getting reviews of the release and posting about it here at Parlor of Horror. At times, I felt it was a little self-serving to do so, but I felt obligated to the bloggers that reviewed the novelette to provide links to their posts. I’d like to thank all of you who reviewed SKIN JOB. Despite the good reviews, it sold much less than I had anticipated and is making me rethink my path and motives in writing.

Skin Job

dragon-tat-2b skin-job-medium


I have four additional stories that were accepted into anthologies but the books have not come out yet. They will have to go into next years tally, if they are published. Two of them have been a long time waiting…

 


 

Dec. 23rd

Of course, I just posted my Christmas Ghost Story, Yule Tide on Parlor of Horror.

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Articles on Writing:

As far as articles, I wrote two very important articles on writing and getting published this year that would pertain to anyone seeking to get stories into the respected published world (not self-published).

The 5 Stages of Writing

 Publishing Terminology

 

Websites for writers – Everything you need to become a Class-A writer!

Websites for writers
Everything you need to become a Class-A writer!

Everything you need to become a better writer is available from informative websites and blogs to help a writer achieve greater success. Here are some valuable links to check out. From inspiration to publishing, from writing to promoting, I’ve picked some recent articles for the struggling author to read and review.

inspiration-image

Inspiration:

Here’s a good article at Ghosts and Ghouls to jump start the imagination of horror writers. Check it out: http://ghostsnghouls.com/2015/02/09/10-natural-disaster-hauntings/

You should definitely check out the Monster Men pod casts on Youtube. Their latest is an interview with author, Brian Moreland, but each episode is packed with fun monster and horror talk. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCySWrEt1Ua2kQ-b45R7dDrQ

Kurt Vonnegut – His thoughts on writing fiction
http://www.openculture.com/2015/04/kurt-vonneguts-8-tips-on-how-to-write-a-good-short-story.html

Open Culture – every writer should bookmark this site
Not only does this site have direct articles for writing, it has links to free online stories from many of the literary masters. Its also a valuable reference on many subjects that may pertain to your characters.
http://www.openculture.com

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jacklondon

Advice:

Kristen Lamb’s Blog
Kristen offers top quality articles, inspiration, coaching and mentoring to fiction writers.

https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/how-writing-quickly-can-improve-your-storytelling/#comment-227213

https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com

Jacqui Murray is an author, columnist and teacher with some very good info for the practicing writer.
https://worddreams.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/how-to-amplify-your-writing-career-or-6-bad-writing-habits-to-drop-right-now/

5 Harsh Truths for Writers is a great article from Cultured Vultures
http://culturedvultures.com/5-harsh-truths-writer/

A steady stream of advice and information articles for the writer can be found here:
http://writerunboxed.com/

here’s a good article I recently enjoyed:
http://writerunboxed.com/2015/11/16/how-to-write-through-trout-syndrome-and-electric-shocks/

Flynn Gray’s blog
Flynn offers tons of valuable info for writers and authors at his blog. He often posts a page much like this one, with a dozen great articles and links to them for us writers to read. Its quite probable that a few of the links posted here I discovered through Flynn’s posts. If you’re a writer, you should follow his blog!
https://flynngray.wordpress.com/

Cemetery Tomes
My buddy Nate offers  weekly memes and graphics on writing fiction, and he’s looking for some short fiction for the winter months to post.
http://cemeterytomes.wordpress.com

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NaNoWriMo
http://nanowrimo.org/
It may be too late to join this year but you may want to check it out for next year. If you always had an idea for a novel and have always had trouble starting it and keeping at it, joining this group will help you push yourself for a full month. See if you got what it takes to get that story down. You track your progress, get inspiration and see others going through the same struggles as you. I may actually do this next November, so I will post about it in Oct. 2016. I have resisted up to this point because I had many short story ideas that I wanted to write and have built a certain level of success with them. But, by next year, I think it will be time for me to get on with writing full novels.

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Hope you find these links helpful. Anyone who is just getting into writing or who is seeking advice on getting published can feel free to send me questions. I will try and help if I can, or at least I’ll try to send you to a website with the info you seek. Mike.

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November is Horror Fiction Month at Parlor of Horror

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November is Horror Fiction Month at Parlor of Horror

I’m going to devote much of November to horror fiction, book reviews, authors, biographical sites, inspirational articles, writing horror, and horror fiction to read.

Many of my fellow writers have embarked on NaNoWriMo, which translated means, National Novel Writing Month of November. What they intend to accomplish is writing 50,000 words of their new novel in a months time. That’s approximately 12,500 words a week, or 1670 words a day. In honor of their journey I will post several writing articles for inspiration. Good luck to all who are participating. If you think you would like to participate next year, check out the NaNoWriMo website for info.

There will still be some film reviews, and my usual articles, but horror fiction will be the main focus. I hope you’ll join me in this month long celebration of the written word.

honest Abe

Attention all Horror Writers

halloween devils

Attention all Horror Writers, authors, and story tellers…

Do you have a horror story on the web that people can read for their Halloween enjoyment?

Looking for stories where readers can can click a link and go to read it right now! 

I’m inviting you to put your links in the comments so readers can enjoy your stories and capture the Halloween spirit. On a normal day this would probably be viewed as spam, but today I want you to promote your work with no hesitation.

*Only one story per author.

*Story has to be less than 2,000 words. Remember shorter is better on the web.

*No links to Amazon books or sites where they have to download, join, or put in emails.

To keep this simple and clean, only put – your name – story title – your link – in the comment post. If you have anything else to comment about, put it in a separate comment.

This has to be a totally FREE read.

Boogie

Here’s My story entry: Aberration on Micro-Horror.com 

*******PLEASE READ*******

THERE WILL BE A CUT OFF FOR STORIES that I will promote in a second post before Halloween. It will most likely go up over the weekend of the 24th or Monday the 26th at the latest. So the cut off will be the 31st story or Thurs. Oct. 22nd. 
You’ll still be able to post your stories on this page but won’t be included in the secondary post.

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? – Part VIII – Story and Plot

skeleton-writing-letter

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while. This one is basic but important enough to be reminded about every so often.

Story and Plot

At the bare bones analysis of story and plot, every story has been told already. This determination has happened hundreds of years ago. Between Greek and Roman mythology, mythologies from native lands and counties, Fairy and Folk tales, famous Opera’s and Plays, and religious writings, every kind of struggle a human has to face has been told. The only thing that is going to make your story different and stand out is the way you deliver it. The garnish around the basic plot premise and the situation in which the basic plot unfolds will ‘trick’ the reader into thinking they have read something totally original.

The main component of a plot is a conflict.

Some common basic story plots, conflicts and archetypes include:

Man vs. Man – a character is trying to achieve something and another is trying to stop him

Man vs. Himself – this is the internal struggle of a man to change and the real enemy is within himself

The Quest – A man must obtain some sacred object and sets out into the world to get it. (‘sacred object’ is relative to the story and importance to the characters, not necessarily ‘sacred‘ ex: the toy in Jingle All the Way)

Man vs. Nature – a character is struggling to survive or make his family, community, comrades, safe against the forces of nature (weather, animals, natural phenomenon).

Man vs. Circumstance – a character struggles against his predictable fate or place in life and the world.

Man vs. Society – a character struggles against ideas, ideology, customs and beliefs of people that must be overcome to move forward. (these last two are almost the same but could have a few differences)

Most stories are based on these conflicts. Once you figure out which type of story you’re writing, it makes working on it easier. You can look at similar stories to gauge your plot, escalate conflict, and assess its originality.

A subplot involves a secondary conflict: ex. A person can be fighting against nature and also learning to trust him/herself to become a leader. – Or – A man can be on a quest but have another person trying to stop him, one that he must defeat.

Decide early on what type of story you’re writing and you will lead your characters to a logical conclusion.

You will notice that the Storyline Plot is often different than the ‘Character Arc’ Plot of your Main Character.

If you take Clash of the Titans for instance, Perseus is searching for a way to save Andromeda (Quest – story plot) and fighting Calibos  (Man vs. Man – story plot), but is also learning about himself and trying to find his unique place in the scheme of life (Man vs. Himself – Character Plot).

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another quick note on Plot
You should try to keep it realistic but find a way to make it feel fresh.

I find it amazing when I watch those documentary crime shows on TV (Lt. Joe Kenda is one of my current faves) that people are still being murdered for the same reasons we’ve always read about: Love Triangles, Insurance Policies, Money (as little as a few hundred dollars), and Jealousy. That makes it extra difficult to write crime drama or murder mysteries. However, good writers find a way to make it feel fresh to their readers.
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 “The question is not what you look at, but how you see it”
– Thoreau

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.”
– William Faulkner

“Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called.”
― Jarod Kintz

What’s in a Name? What’s in a Title?

corregio painting

On Writing:

What’s in a Name? What’s in a title?

What’s with horror authors and their mundane, cliché and overused titles for their stories and books? 

no title book for blog

Come read my book, The Shadowed Blackness, Tales of Dark Horror, The Dark and Stormy Night, The Darkest Dark Shadow in the Blackest of Night

 

What’s in a Title?
I find it hard to believe that so many horror authors, striving to make some headway in today’s oversaturated marketplace, would title their short stories, story collections and book releases with generic titles. There are millions of books on Amazon.com. What is going to make a reader purchase your book over another’s?
One of the repeated writing jokes is about the often used cliché for an opening line in a book; It was a dark and stormy night. Every writer knows this opening line has been used more times than a politician spouts the word Freedom, and writers would never start their story with such an overused and clichéd line.
So it shocks me just as much when a horror writer titles his or her work with mundane words such as, the dark night, the dark shadow, the black night, and the dark, black, shadowed night. I see it all the time, decent writers using these pale, cliché, and tired titles for their work. You’re a writer and a creative mind to be reckoned with; you can’t come up with something better than, the dark, the black, or the shadowed ‘something’ in your title?
I have stories in several anthologies per year. I purchase quite a few more out of interest in particular authors, themes and editors. During the year I am faced with reading up to 200 short stories. To me, a cliché boring title is a reflection on the writing itself. I pick and choose which stories I’m going to read in these anthologies. If an author is not going to spend the time and brain power to think of an exciting, enticing title for his story, why would I think his story and writing would be any better?
I’ll often use a simple word or two as a ‘working’ title for my story while writing it. However, before I send it out to a publisher or editor, I will as spend a few days thinking about the title. Writers often work on their opening sentence, developing a hook, something to pique the reader’s interest and entice them to read on. But the first sentence in a story is the second place to ‘hook’ your reader. The TITLE is the FIRST! The title is the first thing a potential reader will see. It is often the deciding factor of whether they will read the story or not.
So come on all you horror writers, pull up them boot straps, click that creative brain into high gear, and give me some interesting story titles! Your stories deserve to be read; don’t pass up on the first and foremost opportunity to hook the reader.

gloomios cereal

 

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part VII

Editing, rewrites, and drafts

It took me many years to really learn how to edit and rewrite my own fiction – and I’m still learning. A great story idea, great plot and original characters don’t always lead to great reading for another person. The first draft of a story is like picking out the right ingredients to make clay and mixing it together. Even though it is now a well kneaded, smooth ‘clay’ it is still just a lump. It needs many layers of refinement to become an interesting work of art.

Editing and rewriting is not only grammar. In fact, grammar issues should be your last refinement in the editing process. Provided you have a good plot, conflict, and story structure, the bigger concern is making your writing lean.

I had often heard tips on editing like:

Trim the fat
scissors 1

Make every word count

I had no idea what these tips meant. I thought I did, but I didn’t.

Here are three rules that took me quite a while to grasp:

1) Don’t dilute the power of a word by using other words with it.

Ex. John ran quickly to the phone.

Do you think if John was running, it was because he wanted to get the phone immediately? There is no reason for the adverb, quickly. In fact, most writing advice will tell you to drop all of your adverbs – because, most of the time, the verb conveys what you need without them.

In Stephen King’s “On Writing’ he says, get rid of most ‘-ly’ words – quickly, exactly, fairly, hungrily, simply.

Here’s another example:

Ex. Henry stamped up the stairs angrily.

I think readers can deduce that, if Henry is stamping, he must be mad. Aside from that, in the context of a story, we would already know that something had happened to make Henry angry.

Don’t use an adverb or ‘modifying word’ when the simple verb will state what you need.

 

scissors 2**Get rid of precursor add-ons like: I feel, I felt, I felt that, I thought, he thinks, he started, he began to, etc.

Ex. I thought he was going to meet me at six, but he was not here.

 Better: He was going to meet me at six, but he was not here.

 

Ex. I feel that it will run better without his constant interruptions.

  Better: It will run better without his constant interruptions.

 If we know the point-of-view and the character who is talking, the words, ‘I feel that’ are not necessary. These are just a couple of words in each sentence, but in the course of a story, they add up to hundreds of words.

More examples:

Ex. Slowly, I drift back into sleep… The word ‘drift’ implies slow movement.

   Better: I drift back into sleep…

Ex. She started to crawl toward me once again. … ‘started to’ and ‘once’ are completely unnecessary words.

Better: She crawled toward me again.

Ex. Finally, I broke free, spilling to the ground… ‘ly’ words are mostly unneeded. (see what I did there?)

Better: I broke free, spilling to the ground

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2) Don’t state the obvious.

If the writing is really tight and lean, a reader will not miss anything. Its only when they are disengaged with the writing and they start feeling bored with the words that they begin to skim and could miss something important. By restating the obvious you are putting a reader though unneeded work and losing their concentration. The first time a reader has to skim or skip over a group of words because they already ‘get it‘, you’ve lost them.

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3) Don’t repeat yourself.

I have a bad habit of this. It’s a bad habit that I’ve always had…see what I mean? I hope you can see what I mean.

Many writers are guilty of this and don’t realize it until someone points it out.

Items to look for and delete:

**Location – some writers keep repeating what room the scene is happening in, as if the reader will forget. If it is stated at the beginning of the scene that the characters are in the kitchen, you don’t need to mention it again unless they leave the kitchen.

Ex. Harry turned on the kitchen faucet.straight-razor

   If they are in the kitchen what other faucet would it be?

Better: Harry turned on the faucet.

Ex. She looked out the kitchen window.

   Same scenario, if the scene is in the kitchen, she wouldn’t be looking out the bedroom window, would she?

Better: She looked out the window.

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**Two sentences that should be one – In the first draft, I’ll have many sentences that can be combined because some or all of the aspects have been stated already.

Ex. Jimmy started to climb the tree. While climbing the tree he tried to avoid carpenter ants that had made a home there.

   Better: Jimmy climbed the tree, avoiding carpenter ants along the way.

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Here is a great exercise to see the importance of trimming these words. Take a story you have already written. ’Cut’ all of these needless words from your story and ‘paste’ them into another file. Now read the story. Does it still make sense? Does it still convey the plot and characters?

In a 10- page story, you might find you have several pages of words cut out of the text, without effecting the story at all. Look how hard you were making a reader work to achieve the same results. All of these extra words dispersed throughout the story make reading a chore.

I recently edited my story, Steel Deliverance, before submitting it to a publication. The word count started at 3875 words. When I was done (approximately 3 days of revisions) it was 3575 words. That’s 300 words less. I don’t believe it has lost any of its impact. It will be a tighter read for a reader and move along at a much better pace. And this story is far from succinct; I wrote it in my ‘Poe’ style voice using lavish description and poetic words.  This story was done and self-edited three years ago, but when I went back and took another eagle-eyed look at it, there was more work to be done. It’s the leanest its ever been and more focused because of it. It was quickly accepted into the anthology, Terror Train (JWK Fiction).

Quotes:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain

“The first draft of anything is shit.”  – Ernest Hemingway

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
― Thomas Jefferson

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