After Knocking On Death’s Door, I Redecorated His Office

Am I the only one who sees the irony in being a Grim Reaper cosplayer before and after almost becoming his most recent acquisition? No wait; don’t answer… there’s more! There’s nothing quite like a near-life experience to remind you of priorities and those I’ll-get-to-them-eventually plans. I came quite close to death a year ago, so now I’m getting closer to Death as a way to celebrate my extension.

I joined a gym, healed up, and have kept it going; youthful energy is a good thing. I’ve earned my way up to a better day job, rebuilt my workshop as well as upgraded my crypt for you-know-who, and pushed forward in all the things I want to accomplish. I need to get four books out the door before Christmas 2017 — my fourth Matriarch book, two new Spooky books and a novel-sized Spooky anthology — plus launch a few other ideas I’ve had… including (fingers crossed) a regular web show featuring Grim D. about movies and general pop culture with a Halloween twist.

For today, however, I’ll continue to catch up on my reading… including this book Grim left for me as a gift.

Freshly Cut and Inked Dead Trees

First printing of The Matriarch books arrive.


YA Horror: Not the Type of Books That You Would Read?

“Young Adult Horror” is the topic of discussion I would like to raise today. For example:

“After an orphan child endures his formative years being neglected by his foster parents and made to feel powerless, a mysterious stranger arrives with a revelation: the child was born with the blood of sorcerers in his veins.

“Taken to a hidden fortress under the cover of darkness, the child encounters disembodied spirits, nightmarish creatures, and enemies at every turn. Yet it is only when he discovers that his birth parents were murdered by the dark arts that his true path becomes clear.”

I wrote that three-sentence description for the express purpose of illustrating a point about YA Horror, but how many of readers would correctly identify this as the synopsis for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone?

In offering to allow reviewers the chance to sample my book series, The Spooky Chronicles, I have repeatedly seen replies such as “(these) aren’t the type of books that I would read” or “(YA horror is) not my thing.” My question, of course, is “Why didn’t you give the Harry Potter books a chance?” To be perfectly honest, I submit that the entire series run of all seven JK Rowling books in the Potter series are not only YA horror but become more horrific with each installment (and, frankly, I loved every bit of it).

My point is this: I’m attempting to be fair in the description of what my books are about. Horror is not the only thing that happens in these stories; there is a fair amount of fantasy as well as drama, humor, adventure, and more, but the main character IS a zombie kid. What is creating this reaction to YA horror? Look at children’s nursery rhymes and Grimm fairy tales; the very essence of these stories is unmistakably horror. Hansel and Gretel (and the witch)? Ring Around the Rosie? My guess is that someone at some time has written a truly horrible book where something unspeakable must happen to all the young adult characters; if you happen to know what that book is, please send me the title because I’d like to give it a shot.

In the meantime, what do YOU think? Is a wizard who learns the value of destroying your enemies with sorcery more palpable than a zombie boy who is genuinely fearful he might accidentally start the Apocalypse?

Writers On Editing: Don’t Do It All Yourself

I was recently asked to participate in a poll on about editing, specifically how authors get it done for their work. Responses to the question “Do you use an editor?” included did it all myself, had a friend or relative do it, hired a cheap or expensive editor, used a free website for authors to help one another, used a volunteer, or used software. Sadly, the most common answer that had floated to the top of the poll was, “No, I just did it all myself.”

Here’s the best advice I can ever offer a writer: DON’T do it all yourself. Find yourself a “no” person, someone both willing to read your work critically and that you’re willing to listen to no matter what they say or how bad it may seem to them (advisers are invaluable, see The Evil Overlord list for details on correct usage). Heck, get a team of volunteer readers. They may be grammar Nazis or just people who like to read, but they will see things you’ll miss no matter how many times you read it yourself. Sometimes it won’t be grammatical or a missing word but just not explaining things as simply or as thoroughly as needed. A paid professional is wonderful if you trust them and can afford it, but always, always, ALWAYS have another set of eyes go over your work any way you can get it done.

Also, if you can compile your work into a PDF (OpenOffice can do this for you), here’s a really cool trick: let Adobe Reader read it to you out loud (it’s a built in feature of the free version) and just listen. This will reveal a lot of mistakes you and all of your editors may have glossed over for a final edit.