It’s time for a little update to my first book, When the Watcher Shakes. Behold this gorgeous cover from none other than Ben Baldwin, who also designed my covers for Little One and Antique Bed, and whose art has appeared in publications like Black Static, Stephen King & Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Button Box, and too many others of note to name here.
Please note that this is not a sequel. This is a new edition with some superficial changes to the text. Nothing has changed in regard to plot or characters, and no scenes have been added or removed. So if you already own a copy of the first edition, congrats! You don’t need to get the new one, unless you are, like me, a sucker for awesome artwork and need to have a copy just for the new cover. But now may be a good time to think if you have any friends that need a copy. 🙂
Click here to buy When the Watcher Shakes on Amazon!
“Kelsea is forced to face a little girl’s ghost from her past and the devastation she brings—as well as other, even more unexpected threats. The heart-racing mystery will keep readers wondering who to trust and how the story will end.” — Publishers Weekly
Well this was kind of a surprise—as I submitted Little Onefor review through BookLife back in… June 2017! After a few months, I had just assumed that it was not selected for review and then forgot about it. Another weird thing about the review is it refers to the book as my “chilling horror debut” when it is actually my second book. Maybe they didn’t consider my first one as horror? To be fair, when I was getting ready to publish When the Watcher Shakes, I was wishy-washy and insecure about what genre it really fell into. At one point I was calling it “dark suspense.”
So, almost two years after publication, and calls my second book “a strong debut”—but you know what? I’ll take it. It’s Publishers Weekly. I can work with that! All the other stuff it says is really good, and I’m very happy about that. Read the full review here: https://www.publishersweekly.com/9780997147438
I started working on a Bigfoot novel either early last year, or perhaps even in later 2017—can’t remember for sure. So far, my word count is somewhere around the 5k mark. Which is terrible, considering I’m pretty sure I wrote the first draft of Little One in less than three months. In January, I reviewed my goals and again committed to finishing this novel before the end of the year—not a lofty goal!
You know how much I’ve written on it since then? Zero. No, actually I do think I went back and changed a couple sentences. Switched a barred owl call to a screech owl, or something like that. What’s the deal, man? Am I still suffering from chronic writer’s block?
Well, not exactly. For one thing, I have been working at a specialty coffee shop in Elkins (TipTop, come check us out!), so I haven’t had as much time to write. Though I don’t work very long shifts (about six or seven hours in a day), the commute ads another two to three hours onto that. Since I’m not good at little spurts of writing without larger blocks of unstructured time, that means I almost never am able to come up with anything during the days I work at TipTop. Occasionally I’ll get a bit done before work, but it has never been more than three hundred words, and it usually is nothing at all.
However, I have not been as blocked up as I was last year. Though I have not made significant progress on the novel this year, I have been writing. In January I decided to start off by writing a short story to submit to Hinnom Magazine, very cool horror mag that is taking great strides in a good direction. (They have published my work twice before, see here and here.) I was aiming to finish the short story before their submission window closed at the end of February. A reasonable goal, you might think, despite the new job. I still get free days, and it shouldn’t take me a month and a half to finish a three to five thousand word story.
Well, turns out this “short” story doesn’t want to end just yet. It’s currently weighing in at over twelve thousand words, and doesn’t look to be finishing up extremely soon. Of course, I will try to cut much of the fat off of it when I finish, but now it is hungry, now I can only feed it until it is full. (I ended up sending a different, already finished story to Hinnom). So while I really wish I had more done on the novel, I am pleased to have broken out of that horrible funk I was in since at least the second half of 2018, when I struggled even to come up with 150 words in a day. I’m anxious to see where this novelette goes (will it become a novella?)—and I hope that it turns out good enough that those 12k+ words weren’t just a big waste!
Ok, so I guess the last couple years I’ve done an annual review and renew of annual goals set/met/failed. We’re already more than halfway through January and I haven’t written anything on my blog. Let’s see…
OK let’s look at those 2018 goals:
Get agent/publisher – Nope. Still working on it.
Finish Bigfoot novel – Again, no. I did write a bit more on it, but I made remarkably little progress.
Write more short stories (at least five) – Yes! Though I wrote very little on my novel, I actually completed six short stories throughout the year, totaling over 20,900 words. Still not as much as previous years (if you count novels), but not a total failure, and a big win for the short fiction goal specifically.
Attend StokerCon 2018 – Yeah, but I already knew I was going to do that.
The following comments do not necessarily describe events in chronological order:
My #1 desire of 2018 was to find an agent to represent my coming-of-age horror novel about a small town boy vs. a nefarious hypnotist, Schafer; alternatively, to find a small press accepting unagented submissions who would want to publish it. Unfortunately, so far I have not done either, though not for lack of trying. There are still good publishers out there that I am continuing to submit to. Maybe I’ll have better results this year.
I attended StokerCon 2018 in Providence, RI. It was both my first time at StokerCon and my first time in Providence. I blogged briefly about it and put up a few pictures when I got back. It was a huge encouragement to meet so many other creators and workers in the industry, and I hope to be able to attend again soon.
Some of you remember I announced that I was working towards my Master of Arts in Teaching. I am still gathering the required prerequisite undergrad credits that I didn’t get when I double majored in camping and theology. Last year I finished an Introduction to Linguistics online class through Rio Salado College. I also passed the American Literature CLEP Exam (thanks in part to Modern States).
The West Virginia Writers didn’t have a volunteer representative for the region I now live in (Region 2 = Pocahontas, Pendleton, Randolph, and Webster counties), so I signed up for that. I did try to get together a little kids’ writing workshop for our region, but, sadly, I wasn’t able to generate enough interest. Perhaps I misjudged my marketing skills.
I didn’t do too badly in terms of short fiction publications. “The Unknown Thing” was published by Australian-based Things In the Well Publications in one of their themed anthologies called Beneath the Waves: Tales From the Deep, which is available in both hardcover and paperback on Amazon. In June, I made a repeat appearance in Hinnom Magazine with “The Station Agent’s Wife, 1927”. I was later contacted by Max Ablitzer who was interested in producing one of my short stories for his new Horror Tales Podcast. I happily sent along “The Unknown Thing” when the rights became available. Max did his thing with it, and the sound effects and narration made for a pretty great episode (see Episode 4). In October, I published the short ebook Antique Bed: A Horror Novelette, which you can buy now for Kindle at only $0.99. Even though the BookBub ad and the discount is long over, I continue to see noticeably better sales numbers per week compared to before the ad.
If you think in terms of actual goals set and accomplished, it doesn’t look like a great year. However, some really cool things did happen to me last year, including a big boost in sales from a BookBub ad that helped qualify me for Active Member status in the HWA. In fact, gaining Active status was actually one of my 2017 goals, so I’ll count that win!
And this isn’t related at all to my writing career, but Emily and I visited El Salvador in September, which was amazing, so I just wanted to mention that and share a few pictures.
I’m still going to be sending out Schafer to publishers as long as I can find good ones to send to. I haven’t totally lost hope on that front. This year could be the year. Despite my false starts with it, I really think it is a good book—it is one of my favorite things I’ve made—and I really want it to find a good home.
I really need to finish this Bigfoot book. Like, really. So there’s that. However, I also have more going on in my life, including online school, doing a bit of writing for the local paper, and a new job at a coffee shop. Oh yeah, that’s something that happened last year I forgot to mention—I am now a barista at the new TipTop in Elkins (pics below taken from their Facebook page)!
It is great to serve that community and have fun making amazing espresso drinks, but it leaves me less time to write. We’ll see if I can squeeze in enough words here and there to finish a novel in 2019.
I’m hoping to get something cool going in 2019 to help increase enthusiasm for literature around these here parts.
In terms of my education, I still need to get some Literature credits on the cheap, so I’m going to try to pass the English Lit CLEP Exam. I’m more nervous about this one than American Lit, partly because I didn’t know what I was getting into with the American exam, and partly because I feel less comfortable with and am less interested in English lit than American.
Still trying to figure out what events I’ll be attending this year. Three of my go-tos that I’m pretty confident I’ll be at again are the Lewisburg Literary Festival, West Virginia Book Festival, and WV Writers Summer Conference. I’m still on the fence about some others. I really would love to go to Necon, but I’m not so sure I can swing it this year (and I’m not even sure registration is still open). More doable is Scares That Care, but I haven’t figured out my budget for stuff like that yet. We’ll see!
Since I mentioned vacations before, I’ll just say that El Salvador was an amazing adventure, but this year we are planning something a little cheaper and closer to home lol.
Finish the Bigfoot novel
Find a publisher for Schafer
Write at least five short stories
Plan a successful WV Writers literary event in my region
Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for all the people who have bought Little Oneso far, as I woke up to find it #1 in my genre categories, and #84 overall in the Kindle Store! (this ranking will fluctuate depending on sustained sales, so it may be different when this posts). Getting into the Kindle Top 100 is a first for me! I’m so happy and grateful for readers. I’m also grateful for my Mom and Dad coming over, hunting with Dad, my awesome wife Emily, and a whole lot of other things. Happy holidays everyone!
Little One is doing well today, thanks to a BookBub promo and Kindle Countdown deal of 0.99! I’m up to #2 in the Ghost Fiction category, hanging out up there with my friend Scott Nicholson; get his Solomseries at an awesome deal—99 cents for three whole books, you can’t beat that deal.
I’m putting my eBooks on sale. Why now, you ask? Well, because that’s when BookBub said to, that’s why! Unwilling to brave the Black FridayThursday Thanksgiving Week horde? I have the perfect thing. Pay only 99 cents for either of my books, Little One and When the Watcher Shakes, and never leave your house. That’s right, it’s a #BuckSeason Sale — hunt ebooks for under a buck! This deal is limited, so act now. This will be good in the US and UK Amazon stores*, until November 26th. (Clicking on the images below will the US product display pages on Amazon.com).
*This deal is also good in Amazon AU and Amazon CA, but for Little One only!
I kind of already said this, but HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Here is the jack-o-lantern Emily and I carved this season:
October is the best month for a variety of reasons. You got beautiful fall colors, crisp, cool weather, and yeah, Halloween (see above). I got in some good mountain biking, had tons of fun at the annual West Virginia Book Festival, and got to meet up for coffee with an old friend at Taylor Books, which is a pretty great coffee shop/book store in downtown Charleston that I recommend.
Also, this month I released a new Kindle horror novelette, Antique Bed, which you can get on Amazon for only $0.99.
And just in time for Halloween, Horror Tales Podcast released their fourth episode, which is my story “The Unknown Thing”, previously published in Beneath the Waves: Tales from the Deep. Click below to listen (it’s free): ***EDIT: I was just notified that my story has been listened to over one thousand times already, in just a few days! Cool!
One experience I had that was not enjoyable this month was the Witch’s Brew drink at Starbucks. This purple monstrosity was so awful looking that I just had to try it. There is zero coffee in this drink (not that anyone expected it), and I could only take a few sips before tossing it in the trash.
As I don’t live in a town where there is trick-or-treating (or a town of any kind, for that matter), sadly, my house is not stocked full of candy (also, I guess they don’t always do trick-or-treating on actual Halloween anymore?). However, Emily and I have some pretty fun plans involving our traditional viewing of Halloween is Grinch Night and some caramel apples that are sure to ruin our teeth but be wildly tasty (ironically enough, last night I had a dream in which two of my teeth fell out for no reason).
So go enjoy the holiday, however you do that—consuming tons of sugar, watching movies, listening to Horror Tales Podcast, or reading one of my books (I guess somebody else’s book is fine, too). Remember that tomorrow candy will be dirt cheap.
My short story “The Unknown Thing”, originally published in Beneath the Waves: Tales From the Deep by Things in the Well Publications, has been turned into an exciting podcast episode on Horror Tales Podcast. They were going release it on Halloween, but they just couldn’t wait any longer—so here it is! Click the icon below to see all the episodes, including mine (Episode 4).
Give the podcast a rating and review on iTunes if you have an account there, and it will help this new podcast reach more people.
Max Ablitzer does so much hard work in getting the best and most intriguing sound effects for the podcast and I love how it turned out. I think you will too.