My Panels for May 22-25, 2015 Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas

SpookyAuthorImageMay 22-25, 2015: Writer guest (confirmed) at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas. I’ll be on the following panels if you’re in any way entertained by what I do and so inclined to attend:

  • Friday, May 22 at 11:30AM – The Storytelling of Star Wars (Panel, PG, 1 hour) Panel Rm 03 – 350B
  • Saturday, May 23 at 2:30PM – No-Holds-Barred Critique Workshop (Workshop, PG-13, 3 hours) Panel Rm 21 – 352A
  • Monday, May 25 at 1:00PM – Must-Watch TV: The Best of Fantasy and Horror on Television (Panel, PG-13, 1 hour) Panel Rm 05 – 350C


Much Ado About Vampires: Writing The Matriarch III

Whether you love or hate the Bard…or vampires.

TheMatriarch3WorkingTitleLogoSmallWhen I expanded my stand-alone vampire novel into a book series, it required me to re-envision the first novel as “part one” to create a story progression (don’t you hate when a great story falls apart at the end?) I tried to think of The Matriarch as a trilogy, but it was going to take four books to get to the ending I wanted and wrap everything up with a bow.

This meant each self-contained novel – intended to be enjoyable unto itself – had to seed the entire arc to show the main character progression, especially in her capabilities and the challenges she would have to overcome. Those knowing the story line of my current work in progress, the untitled third, have dubbed it “Shakespearean” in reference to characters withholding critical information that escalates the situation. The Matriarch: Guardians did this, too, but to a much smaller degree.

It’s a classic and flexible trope: if Boy-X would have just told Girl-Y about Suitor-3, Villain-Z wouldn’t have tried to kill Girl-Y over the perceived slight from Boy-X. Then there’s my favorite: the character who knows everybody’s secrets but keeps them to manipulate others and/or just enjoy the show. If we would all just learn to talk to one another, we wouldn’t have to go around threatening to kill everyone…I know, I know: where’s the fun in that?

The first draft of The Matriarch III is nearly complete! I credit Linda S. Cowden with the title of this post; I love my wife!


Novel Writing – My Process: Motivation

TheMatriarch3WorkingTitleLogoSmallNovelist Tim Waggoner was asked by one of his creative writing students for tips on “how to stay motivated to write.” I offered this suggestion:

On the subject of motivation in writing (when you can’t seem to get it done), I try to boost stimuli: read, walk, travel, explore, and above all TAKE NOTES. Being a writer means you’re always thinking about how to describe something, do something, or how things happen. And when you’re neck-deep in a project, you never know what little tidbit will solve that problem you’re working through. Don’t be afraid to step away from the pencil or keyboard and let your imagination be inspired.


My Spooky Empire 2014 Appearance Schedule

Friday October 24th

  • 6p – Panel: Keeping the Bodies Fresh – Sarasota
  • 9p – Panel: Sick & Twisted (21 & up ONLY) – Sarasota

Saturday October 25th

  • 12p – Author’s Network – Sarasota
  • 2p – Panel: Writing the Fight – Sarasota
  • 4:30p – Ultimate Occult Showdown! – Lake Ballroom
  • 7p – Author Signing Table
  • 8p – Panel: Choose your Own Adventure – Sarasota

Sunday October 26th

  • 11a – Panel: Sympathy for the Devil – Sarasota
  • 12p – Author Signing Table

Can’t wait to see everyone at Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Halloween Weekend!

To Say or Not to Say Ello…That is the Question

ElloCaterpillarLabyrinthThe new social network gathering the requisite amount of buzz this…year? Month? Week? It’s called Ello, as in something that cute little caterpillar from Labyrinth would say.

Why is the buzz strong with this one? This is a quote from their manifesto:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership. We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Sounds good, but it’s still in beta, search is buggy, no IOS or Android mobile app yet, blah blah blah. This same idea, by the way, is what’s made WordPress such a strong web platform (and this website is hosted on it along with all of my other websites). As I’ve said many times over, when ANYONE creates a social network that can give people a better experience than Faceybook, so long, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (no thanks to all those game requests).

By the way, I’m @thinkingskull over at Ello.


New Creation: All-Cat Version of ‘Return of the Jedi’

Anyone who’s been following me online knows I like to work on various projects, but with the popularity of both Star Wars spoofs and LOL Cats, I realized there’s something I could do to serve both niches. Starting immediately, I’m going to film (on a micro-budget, of course) and all-cat version of the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Even before you start thinking how insane I must be, check out this test shot of my cat, Cinders, in a make-up test for galactic gangster Jabba the Cat. As you can see, I’m not only completely serious, but this is gonna rawk. See you on the Dark Side, and check back here for more updates!

Putting the “Online” Back Into the Film Critic Society

I’ve been a member of the OFCS (the Online Film Critics Society) for a number of years. I applied early on in my career as a reviewer and was initially turned away. I took the advice I received only to later learn that I had been watched, my improvements noted, and an invitation extended.

My film website,, was actually a blog long before anyone had coined the term, and in the tradition of the earlier ‘Net, my identity was safely anonymous as a “horror host.” One of the reasons that compelled me to join a critics society, however, was the opportunity to engage in conversation about what I love: film, making films, and filmmakers. There are plenty of reasons why someone might want to be a film critic, but I was most interested in the social aspect and the articulation of others regarding their passion for films. I chose the World Wide Web not only because of its access but because of its interaction; I wanted to find like-minded individuals.

Fifteen years later, the Internet is full of well-organized social networks that everyone is aware of, but as Twitter and Facebook have risen to the top of these networks, I’m finding myself disconnected from many of the OFCS members than I used to engage with quite often. While I understand (too well, in fact) the need to carve out your own online niche and maintain content in your own corners, our “society” has waned, in my humble opinion. I would like to encourage the membership to use the OFCS forums on Rotten Tomatoes or the private OFCS group on Facebook to see what their fellow members are watching, writing about, and thinking about films in general.

I miss a lot of you guys. Let’s be a film critics society online. Again.