Posts Tagged ‘indie writers’

How Do You Define Horror?

October 28, 2017

Human skull
Photo courtesy Pixabay.

Is it any wonder Halloween comes at this time of year? Falling leaves, wind, sudden chills, early darkness. It’s obviously the season for such things as witches and ghosts.

I write all the time, but as All Hallows Eve approaches again, I find myself pondering a new book to follow my award-winning horror novel BLOOD LAKE. Gotta be something in the air.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a horror story, too, remember the word comes from the Latin horrere, meaning to tremble or shudder. According to the Oxford English Dictionary horror means an intense feeling of fear, shock or disgust.

The best horror stories share several elements in common:

    1. They explore ‘malevolent’ or ‘wicked’ characters or deeds.
    2. They arouse feelings of fear, shock or disgust, as well as the sense of the uncanny. Things are not what they seem. There is a heightened sense of the unknown and/or mysterious.
    3. Horror stories convey intense emotion, mood, tone and environments. Together, these elements produce the sense that everything is charged with ominous possibility.
    4. They contain scary and/or shocking plot twists and story-reveals. In horror stories, ghosts and werewolves are always very, very real.
    5. They immerse readers in the macabre. Horror tends to deal with morbid situations, from repetitive cycles of violence to death-related uncanny scenarios.

So, how do you write a horror story like Stephen King?

Good question. Start with these tips:

Use a Strong, Pervasive Tone
How you describe settings, character movement and actions creates an overarching tone in all fiction. If you do it right your writing can have readers’ spines tingling before a single character has spoken, or made a terrible decision.

You can also create an ominous tone through indirect means. For instance, when objects that should be stationary move. Or when the viewpoint character is disoriented, or a peculiar character seems to materialize out of nowhere.

You should work at creating consistent mood and tone no matter what kind of fiction you want to write, but if you want to write a scary novel, your focus should be on ways you can make actions and descriptions work together to establish an uneasy atmosphere.

Give Wicked Characters Credible Motivations
When you write a horror novel, it shouldn’t read as though a malevolent force is sitting at a bus stop, waiting to infiltrate your unsuspecting characters’ world.

You need to give every malevolent character a strong, clear motivation. Revealing exactly what the motivation is can be part of the mystery that sustains your story and keeps readers guessing why unsettling things keep happening.

If there’s a malevolent force in your horror novel, make their motivation similar in magnitude to the character’s actions. Readers will scoff if the creepy doll in your novel goes on a murderous rampage simply because somebody took out its batteries.

Use the Core Elements of Tragedy
Horror is best when it’s about tragedy in its most theatrical form. Tragedy is born through character flaws, bad choices, or grave missteps. In horror stories we get scared because, as readers, we see the signs foolhardy characters don’t.

In other words, to write a credible horror novel, you must show that the horror-filled situation is dependent on a network of character choices, past or present. At its heart, horror fiction reminds us that cause-and-effect is real, even in the fantastical realm of storytelling.

Tap Into Common Human Fears
Making readers scared creates tension and increases the pace of your story. Even so, there should be a reason for making them fearful. A terrifying situation should be central to the plot, and should be driven by some cause (even if the reader can only guess what the precise cause is).

If the point of horror writing is to arouse fear, shock or disgust, think of the things of which people are most commonly afraid.

For instance, here are some of the most common fears people have. Most relate to physical and/or mortal danger, but you can also draw on other common fears, such as humiliation, inadequacy or failure.

    Fear of animals (rabid dogs, snakes, sharks)
    Fear of flying
    Fear of the dark – one of the most fundamental fears
    Fear of heights
    Fear of other people, and their often unknown intentions
    Fear of ugly or disorienting environments

Think of how common fears can be evoked in your horror fiction. A less precise fear (such as the fear of certain spaces) will let you tell the horror story you want with fewer specified must-haves.

Terror vs Horror: Learn the Difference
To learn how to write horror novels, it’s useful to understand the difference between the two. Both have their place in horror writing.

Terror describes a state of feeling. Oxford Dictionaries simply define it as ‘extreme fear’. Horror, however, also suggests elements of disgust and surprise, or shock. Thus, the word ‘horror’ describes not only extreme fear but also revulsion and a sense of surprise.

Horror writers understand the difference between terror and horror. For Stephen King, terror is a feeling the author tries to evoke in the reader, before resorting to shock tactics such as surprising them with the extreme or unpleasant.

“I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll try to gross you out. I’m not proud.”

King’s quote suggests that if you can create terror in the reader before there’s even a gross-out moment or sickly reveal in your horror novel, you’re winning.

I succeeded once with BLOOD LAKE. I’m going to try to do it again.

Are you game to try?

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

On Saturday, October 21, 2017, I attended the Tenth Annual Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University. Once again, it was a spectacular day. I strongly encourage you to attend the next one, if you can.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, I was invited to participate in the Books & Authors Event at the eclectic lifestyle store, Leon & Lulu, in Clawson, Michigan. There should be another one in the spring, and I hope to see you there.

As a four-year student of Monteith College, the former honors college at Wayne State University, I was invited to attend a special celebration and recognition ceremony on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, honoring Monteith’s contributions to the WSU scholarly legacy. It was an interesting night. I’m glad I went.

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You’re invited to visit my website, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

An Intrusion of Reality

September 19, 2017

Hurricane Irma – Sept. 2017

I’m often engrossed in the writing I do. To the point of ignoring things around me. My long-suffering bride can attest to that.

However, as almost everyone on the planet knows, once in a while, life can force you to step away from whatever else you’re doing and make you pay attention to the world, whether you want to or not.

These past weeks have been like that in my house.

First, my father-in-law, a strong, kind-hearted gentleman, passed away. Even though he was over 100 and we all knew it was inevitable, it was still a traumatic event … even with hospice. He had been chopping wood to heat his farmhouse well into his nineties.

Although he lived on the other side of the state, as he failed, my wife and her sister spent days by his bedside in the nursing home, and were with him the night he died.

The last man standing from his WWII unit, a military honor guard for his service in Europe at Normandy and Ardennes was present for both his funeral and his interment.

Admired by everyone, he will be missed by many for a long time.

At almost the same time, we also had friends and family who had to endure the worst hurricane in decades as it roared through Florida. My middle son and his wife got out of West Palm just in time … and my oldest got his wife and kids out of harm’s way, too.

However, my oldest was stuck there … alone. Talk about stress. We spent many tense hours … hours that morphed into days … tracking the storm and trying to communicate with him to make certain he was all right.

Now that the storm is over, we finally know damage to his home is minimal and the power is on again. His family is back with him … and he’s fine. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many in Florida (and Texas) who haven’t been as fortunate.

I’m slowly unclenching my teeth and getting back into my routine. I’ve even started writing again. Although the characters haven’t told me much yet, I hope to return to writing regularly soon, so I can have my eighth book ready for publication no later than next spring.

To help get myself back into it, there’s a writing group at a local Barnes & Noble that I regularly attend. They’re meeting next Tuesday. Then, on October 21, 2017, I will be at the Tenth Annual Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University.

The day after that conference (October 22, 2017) I’ve been invited to participate in the Books & Authors Book-Signing Event at the eclectic local store, Leon & Lulu, in Clawson, Michigan. If you’re in southeast Michigan about that time, I hope to see you there.

Life goes on.

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;
If you haven't voted yet, please read my essay and vote for me as one of The Authors’ Show’s “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.” Voting ends October 31, 2017.

**********

You’re invited to visit my website, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Why Do You Pick Up a Book in the First Place?

May 30, 2017


If you’re like most people, you pick up a book because the cover or title looks interesting. The next thing you do is read the back blurb, or if you’re online, the excerpt.

What is it? Or, better yet, what should it be?

Basically, the back blurb is a sales pitch. There are a lot of tools in the publishing tool belt, and each has its own unique purpose and strength. Few, though, have more sway over a would-be reader than the book description.

It should be the summation of your story, enticing the reader to buy.

How do you write good back blurb?
The principles hold true for any genre, although the details may change a bit for each. This is a list of things featured most often from a number of bestsellers …

A hint of the plot.

Use of words that evoke images and resonate with readers.

Main characters are named and characterized.

Idea of setting.

A question to be answered, or a hint of mystery to be solved that draws the reader in.

Quotes about the book or previous books by the author.

TAKE THE READER ON A JOURNEY
Most good book descriptions have less to do with the story of the book, and more to do with the story of the reader. Tell the reader about the journey they’re going to take, rather than try to create a shorthand or synopsis of your book.

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Take the back cover blurb for my newest novel, DEAD END STREET, coming out on Amazon this week:

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TIME TO BE MOST AFRAID
IS WHEN THINGS START GOING WELL.

Paul Barrett is a successful author. So are Randy and Donnie Camron. Along with the rest of the gang from Reichold Street, they all think their lives have finally settled down. In this provocative thriller, however, they learn there are new disasters waiting, determined to find them, wherever they go.

REICHOLD STREET, the lead novel in the series, was selected a 2012 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner.
“Skillfully written and emotionally charged.”
~ Kirkus Reviews for “Reichold Street”

ONE WAY STREET and STREET LIGHT, the second and third books in the series, were also reviewed as intense, 5-Star thrillers…

“A mesmerizing thriller that can haunt you long after you put the book down…”
~ Maria Beltran, of Readers’ Favorite, for “One Way Street”

“R.L. Herron is a master craftsman…grabbing the reader and transporting them into the story…”
~ Brian MacLearn, award-winning author, for “Street Light”

In DEAD END STREET, the characters already know very well that life is not perfect, but discover the past is not always as far behind them as they think.

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DON’T IGNORE IT
You may call it a ‘blurb’ or ‘back cover copy’ or lament it simply as ‘all that text I have to paste into my book page.’

Whatever your name for it, you can’t afford to ignore it. After your cover, the product description of your book is the first experience the reader has with you as an author.

The book blurb is one of your most important communication aids when promoting your book, so invest plenty of time and dedication to ensure you get it right.

Getting it right is the proverbial ‘big deal.’

Do you think I succeeded?

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

**********

I plan to attend the next Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University on Saturday, October 21, 2017.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


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