Setting Realistic Self-Publishing Goals


Artists are dreamers by nature.

Through my experience working with (and for) a good number of creative people over the years in different media, I’ve noticed a common thread that binds most of them together. They think big. They have bold dreams and high expectations.

Disenchanted authors are commonplace in self-pub blogs and forums, and I wanted to pass on some pragmatic advice that has helped keep my expectations tempered. Hopefully it will help other beginner authors set attainable goals.

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“Bloodstone” Review

BloodstoneBloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I count myself as a fan of “dark fantasy”, and Bloodstone was an excellent find in the genre. If you enjoy Conan and other grim worlds, the realm of Wagner’s anti-hero Kane should be right up your alley.

I ran across this book while scouring for older fantasy works, since I have been getting a bit bored with a lot of the modern fantasy I’ve been checking out as of late. Plus I have been playing Dark Souls, and it put me in the mood to read something set in a brutal realm. Kane is an interesting character, enigmatic and self-serving, but he’s the type of guy you love to hate. Wagner’s universe is oppressive and unforgiving; full of demons, vicious sword fights, and dark sorcery. His prose is DENSE, and the vocabulary he uses to build his vision demands full attention. I found myself re-reading pages to ensure I knew what was happening.

If I can level a few criticisms, the middle of the book lags a bit, but it’s not so horrible a slog that I became bored. Also, the authors penchant for “SAT words” (he was also a psychologist) ran a little rampant and he picked a select few to overuse. You can only read the word “coruscant” so many times before it becomes irritating. There was also some verbiage that I can only describe as medical terminology that arrived late in the story and felt a bit out of place.

Outside of those minor faults, it’s an excellent story that pulls no punches in creating an intense atmosphere that blends dark fantasy and science fiction. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenging read that is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the “Tolkien-esque” heroic high fantasy.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Self-Publishing an eBook on a Budget


I’ve read many articles that explain how first time self-published authors should go about preparing their inaugural work for public consumption. There are many accepted opinions on the subject, from folks with more experience than myself, but I have been hard-pressed to find much content that provides alternatives for hobbyists or people on a shoe-string budget.

Full Disclosure: I am a hobbyist author. I take it seriously, as I’m passionate about writing and enjoy sharing my creative works, but I never intend for it to replace my current career. That said, these are opinions I’ve formed through patterns of observation, so take them for what they are worth. I hope some of this advice might help others like myself who are having trouble finding a discussion targeted at an audience who isn’t trying to “make it”.

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Zombies Ate My Neighbors (A Retrospective)


Editor’s Note – This post originally appeared on the horror media blog

I fired up my Wii Virtual Console yesterday and sat down to reacquaint myself with one of my favorite games from the 16-bit era. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a classic, and if you haven’t played it, you don’t know what you’re missing! I have fond memories of renting this from my local video store and having no clue what it was about, but thinking it had to be great because of the zombies on the box art. I miss the “pre-internet” days of gaming when you could still be surprised by something.

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Writing Tip: Overusing “Said” as a Dialogue Tag


As I continue my quest in self-publishing, I read so much advice about “the rules” of writing. A common piece of knowledge dispensed about penning dialogue is to only use “said” as the primary dialogue tag.

What’s a dialogue tag?

A dialogue tag is a clause of two words or more which attributes speech to a particular speaker. “Hello,” John said. Hello is the dialogue. John said is the dialogue tag. The tag makes clear that John is doing the speaking, rather than Mary or Chris or the dining room table.via EditTorrent

The popular theory behind employing “said” as your weapon of choice is that it supposedly disappears as a reader is scanning the text, and through some psychological magic they treat it like punctuation.

I’m here to tell you that’s not (always) true.

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Detroit 2020: The Soundtrack

You can follow the soundtrack for Detroit 2020 free on Spotify!

detroit2020coverNow that Detroit 2020 is officially out and a thing ( and available to purchase here ) it’s time to share with y’all some of the more fun/interesting behind the scenes info that probably only my mom will read.

Hi, Mom, I’m sorry the book has a giant dildo in it.

For my writing projects I like to create playlists that feel/encompass to me the world of the story.  It’s nerdy, weird, and artsy fartsy but it really does help me in a couple of really important ways.

1.) Whenever it’s writing time, I kick on the playlist.  I’m no neurologist, but I like to think there’s some sort of neural mapping that gets me in a good writing place, sort of like whenever ABC is played I boogie down with Pavlovian swagger.

2.) Whenever I get stuck and go on my try-not-to-be-stuck-anymore walks, I play the playlist. As I wander around…

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Why Horror Sequels Are Better Than Reboots


Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on

Hollywood is creatively bankrupt.

As a horror fan, I’ve watched franchise after beloved franchise be “rebooted” (I really dislike that buzzword) into generally hollow recreations in an attempt to cash in on nostalgia or draw younger audiences into a scene that they don’t have historical knowledge of. What is more upsetting to me than rehash after stale rehash being churned out, is that the energy and money put into these projects is diverting important resources away from one of this genres greatest strengths; sequels.

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Cliffhangers and When Not to Use Them


I was inspired to write this post after thinking on the frustrating Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead. I don’t want to move anywhere near spoiler territory, so you can look that up independently should you choose.

If you’re an aspiring author and decide you want to write a cliffhanger, I urge you to stop and think twice, even if you’re penning an adaptation of a Sly Stallone film.

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Avoiding Echoes in Your Writing


I’ve been reading a large volume of self-published books (mostly eBooks) lately, in an attempt to better myself as a writer. In case you haven’t heard it a thousand times yet, let me be one more voice in the crowd and say “reading makes you a better writer”.

That said, one of the most noticeable errors I keep running across is word repetition. My friend and fellow author Jeff Conolly refers to them as “echoes” (he uses hip author lingo) and they’re something I think all practicing authors need to be keenly aware of.

Echoes aren’t technically a grammatical error, but they are a matter of style that create redundancy and disrupt the flow of prose. Much like dialogue tags other than “said”, they tend to stick out like a sore thumb on the page and pull the reader out of the story to focus on the actual words themselves.

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On Classic Game Music


Editor’s Note – This editorial was originally posted on the now defunct gaming site

Sound design has always been one of the most important parts of gaming to me.  Music and effects help immerse me in the experience nearly as much as the visuals.  Growing up as a child of the 80’s I was exposed to some of the most memorable game music.  The themes from Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Legend of Zelda are all iconic and instantly recognizable to gamers of that era. Even the simplistic “bloops” and “bleeps” of the Donkey Kong opener evoke images of jumping barrels and climbing ladders. So why isn’t there as much memorable game music anymore?

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