- In March, I wrote my first review for the website Ginger Nuts of Horror.
- In April, my short story Hold On was published at Liberty Island.
- In June, Nev Murray reviewed The Blessed Man and the Witch.
- In August, Adam Howe gave me the honor of blurbing his story Gator Bait.
- In September, my short story How to Fix a Broken World was published at Liberty Island.
- In November, I released the second edition of The Blessed Man and the Witch.
- December was quite busy. Get the Greek, my Kindle Single, made it to #1 in a free category on Amazon; the Beyond Lovecraft Indiegogo campaign I supported made its funding goals (and then some); and I learned that I had been kicked off the website Ginger Nuts of Horror (more on that later).
I spent part of last week and the weekend up north visiting family. Travel, especially with a small child, can be exhausting, so Sunday night after my son went to bed and we were able to relax for a bit, I thought to check how the Get the Greek Hanukkah giveaway did.
I’ve released a Second Edition of my novel The Blessed Man and the Witch that includes a new cover and an excerpt of the sequel The Nephilim and the False Prophet.
While the Second Edition doesn’t change any of the story in any way, I have cleaned up some of the grammar and added back matter like About the Author and Author’s Note sections. That’s one of the great freedoms of digital publishing: improving the product as you go.
It’s likely that I’ll improve the blurb, but after that, no more tinkering. I’m moving forward. The Nephilim and the False Prophet should be ready for publication early next year, and I’m already working on the outline for the third and final volume in the Armageddon series.
If you haven’t already, pick up your copy of The Blessed Man and the Witch today!
(This post is not intended to point fingers at individuals, nor is it a reaction to a particular book.)
After having read dozens of indie- and self-published books over the last year or so in several different genres, I’ve found some common threads that link them together as indie fiction and separate them from traditionally-published books.
Most prominent is the lack of editing. The vast, vast, vast majority of writers need an editor, or, if nothing else, a competent, experienced proofreader to make their work ready for prime time. There really is no acceptable number of typos or grammatical mistakes allowable in a published work. The expression “the perfect is the enemy of the good” doesn’t apply to publishing.
There are, of course, more subjective elements to your book that may or may not benefit from a story editor: character arcs, plot arcs, dialogue, a clearly-defined antagonist, etc. They’re important, but their very subjectivity puts them up for debate. (The subject of a later post will cover the relative value of having a book editor review your book.) I’m talking about having everything spelled properly. No wrong word choices like “vocal chords” or “it’s” when you mean “its.” Microsoft Word doesn’t fix run-ons, comma placement, and subject-verb agreement, and if you can’t do it (most writers, remember, cannot), you must find someone to fix these errors for you.
Yes, I know it’s expensive. And time-consuming. And a pain in the ass and a gut check and you still have to do it because if you don’t do it you’re putting out marginal work. These things count. We’ve all read traditionally-published books with grammatical errors, yes. But just because some people put out substandard work, it’s no excuse for you to do the same. Do you want to be good for an indie, or just plain good?
Get it professionally edited, and if you can’t, get it proofread. It shows you care about the reader.
My other concern is book formatting. I’ve read some books that were horribly formatted. There’s no excuse for that. If you can’t or won’t have your book professionally formatted, download this invaluable guide, follow the instructions, and you’ll have formatted your book properly. Mark Coker is my personal hero for writing this guide and making it available for free.
The bottom line is that publishing is all about being detail-oriented. Including self-publishing.
In other news, The Nephilim and the False Prophet has been sent to educated, literate readers I trust to sanity-check it. The end is nigh!
Inspired by this excellent article by Kayleigh Marie Edwards, I will discuss a cliché that I would like to see go by the wayside, as it’s become such a tiresome theme in not just horror, but genre fiction in general: the cliché of the Hypocritical Christian.
For reasons that go beyond the scope of this piece, modern culture has elevated hypocrisy to the unofficial Eighth Deadly Sin, despite how common it is. We are all hypocrites in some fashion or other, but when it comes to religious hypocrisy, where the sinner has the guff to quote Scripture to explain the basis of his beliefs, that’s somehow a bridge too far. This has an element of gotcha in it, as the rulebook for Christians is so widely available: the Bible. It’s easy to point out sections of the Bible that aren’t followed and demand that the offending Christian follow them or be damned as a hypocrite. That this all-or-nothing approach is never required anywhere else in modern life is immaterial: the accusation is what counts. Religious hypocrites are, to some, particularly galling, and must be denounced. Especially in fiction. More especially in horror fiction. Even two of horror’s most famous authors have indulged in it: Clive Barker and Stephen King.
I’ve mentioned this at length in my review of Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels: “If there is one central theme running throughout The Scarlet Gospels, it’s explicitly anti-Christian. Every time Christianity is mentioned, it’s linked to hypocrisy, abuse, and evil. Carston Goode, the ghost who brought both Norma and D’amour into the events of the story, was one such hypocrite. Despite ‘a deep-seated faith in the generosity of the Lord his God,’ Goode is a sorcerer with a secret life of sexual deviance.”
In Stephen King’s Carrie, The Mist, and The Shawshank Redemption, the greatest (human) antagonists often quoted the Bible as a motivating factor in their menace.
Films like The Last Exorcism also carry this theme forward; indeed, it’s difficult to find a positive representation of Christianity in contemporary horror movies at all, and you’ll have to go back to the 1970’s and 1980’s to find examples. In The Exorcist, Father Karras sacrifices himself to save the possessed Regan, and in Omen 3: The Final Conflict, we see a vision of Jesus Christ at the end, when Damien is sent back to Hell. It’s a safe bet that if there’s a pastor in a horror movie made within the last thirty years, he’ll be a bumbling incompetent at best, or if he’s wearing a black cassock and white collar, a sexual deviant.
There are occasional exceptions, of course: From Dusk Till Dawn‘s Jacob Fuller, for example (note that this movie is almost twenty years old). Graham Hess in 2002’s Signs. The Rite. Nevertheless, Christianity has been used as a punching bag for writers either looking to plant an ideological flag or are too lazy to find a more interesting antagonist. For the sake of that ever-elusive originality, if nothing else, it’s time to put this cliché to rest.
It’s no longer daring or trendy or cutting edge to see a sinning priest. The pendulum’s swung so far that way that it’s rare to see, in genre fiction, a priest who isn’t a criminal or idiot or hypocrite.
When my laptop began to suffer from mechanical emphysema on top of the other ailments an aging machine suffers, I was able to replace it while the data was still accessible in its dying brain. Dealing with the transfer of data and a sick little boy has made it impossible to get any work done, so Friday Links are canceled this week. Still, I have something to tell you.