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Brian James Freeman versus Kealan Patrick Burke and THE SEVEN!

April 16, 2013 2 comments

I hope you’ll check out THE SEVEN: Brian James Freeman on Kealan Patrick Burke’s blog today.

If you’d like some updates on what I’m up to these days at Cemetery Dance Publications, Lonely Road Books, eBookBargainNews.com, or even with my own writing, that’s the link to click on. Or this link. (It’s really the same link.)

My thanks goes out to Kealan for including me in his series!

You Shouldn’t Always Worry About Customer Reviews

April 8, 2013 4 comments

Sometimes a review is spot on and you learn something about your writing; sometimes not so much:

the shrinking man by richard matheson

The Painted Darkness eBook is Only 99 Cents This Week!

March 25, 2013 Leave a comment

To give a fresh boost to The Painted Darkness in 2013, I’m discounting the eBook edition to just 99 cents this week and doing a little advertising on some of the more popular eBook newsletters. For those of you who are interested in marketing and promoting eBooks, I’ll write up a report next week on how this worked out.

If you haven’t read the novella yet, this is a great time to snag a copy. Please consider spreading the word about this sale if you know anyone who might be interested.

The discounted eBook is available through: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • iBookstore • Kobo • CemeteryDance.com

When Henry was a child, something terrible happened in the woods behind his home, something so shocking he could only express his terror by drawing pictures of what he had witnessed. Eventually, Henry’s mind blocked out the bad memories, but he continued to draw, often at night by the light of the moon.

Twenty years later, Henry makes his living by painting his disturbing works of art. He loves his wife and his son, and life couldn’t be better… except there’s something not quite right about the old stone farmhouse his family now calls home. There’s something strange living in the cramped cellar, in the maze of pipes that feed the ancient steam boiler.

A winter storm is brewing, and soon Henry will learn the true nature of the monster waiting for him down in the darkness. He will battle this demon and, in the process, he may discover what really happened when he was a child — and why, in times of trouble, he thinks: I paint against the darkness.

But will Henry learn the truth in time to avoid the terrible fate awaiting him… or will the thing in the cellar get him and his family first?

Written as both a meditation on the art of creation and as an examination of the secret fears we all share, The Painted Darkness is a terrifying look at the true cost we pay when we run from our grief — and what happens when we’re finally forced to confront the monsters we know all too well.

The trade paperback is also still available through: Amazon.com • Cemetery Dance • Barnes & Noble

The audiobook can be downloaded on Amazon.com  Audible.com  iTunes

The Short Story is Dead! Long Live the Short Story!

March 8, 2013 20 comments

I keep hearing from people who ask why Cemetery Dance Publications even bothers publishing anthologies and collections (or even the magazine!) these days. After all, isn’t the short story dead?

Well, if it is, I guess I didn’t get that memo.

Yes, obviously the heyday of short stories in print has passed. None of us are selling short stories to the Evening News or Saturday Evening Post or even the paperback original anthologies that crowded the bookstores in the ’80s and early ’90s — and those markets aren’t coming back.

But I don’t think the lack of markets means the short story is dead. As long as authors want to write short stories and there are readers who still want to read them, the form will live on. In my experience, there’s definitely still readers who want to read short fiction. Not as many as there once was, but I think there could be more on the way — if only we help younger readers discover the thrill of the short story again.

After all, at least when I was a kid, most of the books I read in middle school and younger were essentially long short stories. You read those little paperbacks until you graduated onto “adult” books.

These days, it seems like all of the emphasis is on writing your big series of novels for younger readers — three books is okay, seven books is great. I keep hearing from authors that their younger readers don’t even KNOW what a short story is, and these readers find it confusing when they stumble across a piece of short fiction.

This confuses me. Have they completely dropped English classes from the curriculum? I know it was fourteen years ago that I last stepped foot into a high school classroom, and in the age of the Internet that’s approximately 1 billion years ago, but I remember having an entire book full of short stories as part of my English class each year.

But even if young readers aren’t being properly introduced to the short story, maybe we can still win them over. Time is in short supply for everyone these days and short stories can be a convenient break from reality for a busy person. You can finish off a short story in less than an hour in most cases. Sometimes ten minutes is all you need. Sometimes a story will take you five minutes to read and yet you’ll still be thinking about it days or months later if the author did his or her job right.

That means you can read a short story on the bus to work. You can read a short story over your lunch break, if you’re not too busy playing Angry Birds. You could even read a short story between classes while walking across your college campus, if you were so inclined.

If the people around you don’t think books are cool, you have nothing to worry about thanks to the rise of eBooks. You can be staring at your cell phone and everyone will think you’re just stumped by the letters you have on Words With Friends. No one has to know you’re actually reading a story. (Although, seriously, if the people you hang out with aren’t into reading, maybe it’s time to expand your horizons a bit and find some additional friends. Try your local library or bookstore while they’re still around.)

I hope short stories will find a way to flourish in the world of eBooks. Some of my short stories are already on Amazon.com right now from a marketing experiment I tried a few years back and I’m pleasantly surprised to see a few of them selling several hundred copies a year with absolutely no promotion at all. That tells me there are still readers for short fiction out there.

What are your thoughts on the short story? Is it a dying form? Or will eBooks bring them back to life?

Why you should use exactly the number of words you need to tell the story

February 16, 2013 13 comments

Many years ago, someone read a 50,000 word manuscript of mine and said, “It’s great, but it’s not a novel, and you’ll never sell it to New York until you add 40,000 words.”

That ingrained the idea in my head that if I wanted to sell my work to a publisher, it had to be 90,000 words, give or take — that there was no way something in the 50,000 or 60,000 word range would ever sell.

Typewriter

Of course, in the years that followed, several of my friends sold what were essentially novellas to New York, and I realized I had a wasted a lot of time trying to find ways to add “layers” to my work to reach an arbitrary word count.

These days, especially with self-publishing being what it is, I encourage everyone who writes to simply tell the story the way it needs to be told. If 10,000 words does the trick, that’s great. 90,000 words? Also great. 150,000 words? If you’re absolutely certain they’re all really needed and there’s no fat to be cut, then that’s great, too.

The thing I hate the most when I read manuscripts is when I start wading through obvious padding that’s only there to increase the word count. Just tell the story the way it needs to be told, and tell it as well as you can, and everything else will fall into place eventually.

Of course, it took a very long time for me to shake that 90,000 word “rule” that had been planted into my head, and even today I still have trouble accepting that my 40,000 word manuscript will find its place — even though we buy manuscripts of that length at my day job just about every other month it seems.

I am getting better at accepting a lot of things in my life with each passing year, and one of those things is that the 90,000 word novel is not something I’m entirely comfortable writing. I wouldn’t be too surprised if I end up just writing novellas and short stories from here on out, even if there’s “no market” for them.

If I do my job right when I sit down to write the stories, then those stories will find readers eventually, one way or another.

A NOS4A2 Christmas Card From HarperCollins/William Morrow!

December 21, 2012 7 comments

Christmas/Holiday cards can all start to look the same after a while… but then this card from our friends at HarperCollins/William Morrow arrived!  Perfect for the Joe Hill fan in your life:

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill Promotional Christmas Card!

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill Promotional Christmas Card!

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill Promotional Christmas Card!

A Sneak Peek at “The Glass Floor” by Stephen King in Cemetery Dance #68

November 29, 2012 2 comments

Cemetery Dance #68As you might have heard, Cemetery Dance #68 is shipping from the printer now and it’s our Glenn Chadbourne Special Issue. In addition to a new interview with Glenn and a new short story he wrote with Holly Newstein, every story and all of the columns feature an original illustration created by Glenn!

It was a lot of fun to put this one together since we’ve never published a Special Issue focused on an artist before and Glenn is one of our favorite people in the business. He’s a talented artist and a good friend.

There are several great new stories in this issue by Rick Hautala, Bruce McAllister, Weston Ochse, Rick Koster, and Elizabeth Voss, but the icing on the cake was being able to include “The Glass Floor” by Stephen King. “The Glass Floor” was first published in Startling Mystery Stories in 1967 and it was King’s first professional sale. The story has only been reprinted once since then, I believe, and it has never appeared in any of his collections.

King wrote the story a few months before his twentieth birthday and it’s full of raw talent. There’s a line toward the end — “Wharton felt a quiet chill steal over him.” — that really hits the mark. If you’ve never read “The Glass Floor” before, I think you’ll feel a chill, too.

To set the mood, Glenn Chadbourne created a two page illustration for the story, which I’m pleased to debut here for your previewing pleasure:

Click on the image above for a larger version. If that link doesn’t work for you, try this one instead. Be sure to order your copy of Cemetery Dance #68 because it’s already shipping from the printer!

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