Category: reading with a purpose

Book Club for Horror Enthusiasts

book clubs, book review, genre fiction, mixed genre, publishing, reading, reading with a purpose February 7, 2014

Hey everyone!

For a last several months, I’ve been a member of the DarkFuse Book Club. For a flat fee, you receive many, many titles delivered to you for your ereader. If you enjoy horror, particularly horror that isn’t mainstream, and if you enjoy supporting a great publisher and its authors, please do check this out. This has been a really great bargain and I’ve received some titles I’ve truly enjoyed (I will be reviewing some of them in the coming weeks).

I am in no way affiliated with DarkFuse, nor did they ask me to write this. I’m just really pleased with what they’ve offered and I don’t want it to go away. If you love horror and want to support the community, check it out. It’s 100% worth it. I linked to it above, but here’s the link anyway:

Have a great weekend and happy reading!

Tropes, cliches, and stereotypes, oh my

genre fiction, reading with a purpose, writing life, writing peeves February 4, 2014

I’ve seen this quote making the rounds lately…

“The three types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there …” — Stephen King

I like this quote very much and I agree with Mr. King. The issue for most horror writers is how to write those terrors without resorting to cliches and stereotypes. Tropes are too easy. The lazy writer uses tropes (unless it’s for camp, and that’s something entirely different and can be done exceedingly well).

Pennhurst Asylum

Pennhurst Asylum

There are many horror tropes… from settings (abandoned hospitals/mental hospitals/islands/houses) to characters (creepy kids, mad scientist, animated puppet/doll, clown) to character traits (ankle dragger, mouth stitched shut, evil hand THIS IS MY BOOMSTICK!! I digress) to manners of death (chainsaw, wood chipper, attack of the killer whatever LOOK AT THE FANGS! More digression).

Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog

Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog

See what I mean? I bet you can think of a novel or TV show or movie that relies too heavily on one or more of those tropes. I was unfortunate enough to watch Wrong Turn 3 last night. Dear god… tropes, tropes, boobs, tropes, cannibal incest West Virginia natives. More boobs. It was so bad it wasn’t even entertaining.

So what’s the best way for a writer to not fall into the trap of tropedom?

Know the tropes. Read your genre, watch your genre (but mostly read it). Recognize when an author is falling back on the tropes. If you’re writing and you find yourself using something because you know that the reader will understand the cue, don’t use it. Break out of that and keep the reader guessing. Even if you feel like you need a trope to explain something, don’t. Give your reader more credit than that, and surprise them.

What are your favorite genre tropes (all genres!)?


End of the year and plans for next year

reading, reading with a purpose, writing life November 19, 2013

So it’s mid-November. I’m thinking about wrapping up 2013 and moving to 2014. This year has been momentous in a lot of ways… some good, some not so good, some devastating, some amazing. A crazy ride all the way.

For the remainder of the month, I’ll be finishing up a rewrite of my thesis novel. I hope to finalize plot elements for the sequel to Habeas Corpse and get another 50 pages or so of it written by the end of December. The sprogs will be off school for half of December, so that will make it challenging.

Looking forward to 2014, I’ve got a few conventions and retreats on my schedule and lots of writing to do.

This is actually my work planner, but the calendar will be different for next year. Geeks unite!

This is actually my work planner, but the calendar will be different for next year. Geeks unite!

One thing I’m putting in my schedule for next year is to read more books, novellas, and short stories. I’m a paper-and-pen planner, so there will be a spot designated in my calendar for weekly titles. I think I’ll try for two novels a month and at least a novella or a couple of short stories a week. I’m going to try for one new movie a month as well, preferably something off the mainstream radar. I’d like to be more active on Goodreads and posting reviews here, so this is my way of getting those goals underway.

Have you done anything like this? Do you have any suggestions for me? Is planning my reading material one month in advance adequate, or should I go further out than that? Thoughts, opinions, suggestions, additions to my to-be-read list?

Let me know! Leave me a comment and tell what I should be reading (remember I want short stories, novellas, and novels) and watching (something out there) in the coming few months. I hope everyone is enjoying Habeas Corpse!



reading with a purpose, SHU WPF, writing life September 10, 2012

A few reminders today about books available or upcoming!

Help fight cancer and contribute to the care of two wonderful women.

Droplets, by Scott A. Johnson is available through Amazon. 100% of the profits from the sale of every book go toward the medical costs for Tabatha Johnson.


Tabby’s a fighter. She’ll beat this, and she deserves all the support she can get.

Tabby and Scott







Also available for a good cause is Hazard Yet Forward, where you can read my short story “One Man’s Garbage.” The proceeds from Hazard Yet Forward also go toward one woman’s fight with cancer. Donna Munro is a friend and fellow Seton Hill University writer. This huge book features over 70 writers and stories in every genre. This book is available in eformat from Amazon. In case you didn’t know, you can download a Kindle app for your iPad or computer for free and read every title available for Kindle! Win!


My short story “Black Bird” is forthcoming in Dark Moon Book’s anthology Mistresses of the Macabre. More information on that as it becomes available. Have a great week!

Hazard Yet Forward

genre fiction, mixed genre, publishing, reading with a purpose, SHU WPF, Writing About Popular Fiction, writing life August 7, 2012

It’s here! Today’s the release day for Hazard Yet Forward, the anthology written and compiled by fellow Seton Hill alum, students, and friends. The proceeds from this amazing 700+ page tome will benefit my friend Donna Munro in her fight with breast cancer.

This huge volume covers all genres and everything in between. Follow this link to get your copy today! Help us make this book #1 on Amazon’s list!
If you don’t have a Kindle, never fear, there’s an app for that! Get it here.

Special announcement and cancer sucks

reading with a purpose, SHU WPF, writing life August 2, 2012

Hello intrepid readers! I’d like to ask you for another favor.

Seems like cancer has taken a prominent role in my world lately. I’ve decided without a doubt that I loathe and despise cancer. It’s a cruel disease, one that comes silently and takes too many people from me and my loved ones.

I hope you’ve purchased your copy of Scott A. Johnson’s Droplets. Every penny of the profits from Droplets goes directly to taking care of Tabby Johnson’s medical bills. This is so important. If I hadn’t been fortunate enough to work with Scott as my mentor in my graduate program, I wouldn’t be writing the way I am now. He made a difference for me. Help me make a difference for him and his family. If you haven’t made that purchase yet, please consider doing so. Follow this link to Scott’s blog and purchase from there.

Another friend, a fellow SHUer, is also undergoing cancer treatment. Donna Munro is a horror writer, an organizer of excellent writing retreats, and my friend. She’s also in for a tough fight with cancer. I’d like to ask for your help once again.

Seventy-six writers connected to the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program have created a multi-genre charity anthology entitled Hazard Yet Forward.  All proceeds from this project will benefit Donna Munro, a 2004 graduate of the program.  Munro, a teacher living in St. Louis, Missouri, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  An active member of the SHU WPF alumni committee, Munro helps organize the school’s annual writing conference, the In Your Write Mind Workshop.

To aid Munro and her family, faculty members, alumni, students and friends of the Writing Popular Fiction program quickly responded to compile this massive anthology.  The book features flash fiction, short stories and even a full-length novella.  In total, there are 75 works from various genres, which makes this anthology one that features something for everyone.

Genres represented in the book range from horror to romance to mystery – and everything in between.  Some of the notable writers in the anthology are World Fantasy Award winner Nalo Hopkinson, Bram Stoker winners Michael A. Arnzen and Michael Knost, Bram Stoker nominee Lawrence C. Connolly, ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults winner Jessica Warman, Rita finalist Dana Marton, Spur winner Meg Mims, Asimov’s Readers’ Award winner Timons Esaias  and WV Arts and Humanities literary fellowships winner Geoffrey Cameron Fuller.

About Hazard Yet Forward, co-compiler Matt Duvall says, “It’s an unprecedented collection of stories from every genre imaginable.”  This large volume is an electronic book for the popular Kindle platform and is available for purchase through Amazon starting August 7.  It’s also reasonably priced.  The book will be on sale for $9.99.

I am a part of this anthology.  I wrote the story, “One Man’s Garbage,” about the unintended consequences of one man’s obsession with yard sales.  I took part in this anthology because I want to help Donna and also because I believe in the unspoken brotherhood of the writing community. We’re in this together.

More information about the anthology can be found at the Hazard Yet Forward blog.  To learn about the unique and exciting Writing Popular Fiction program, please visit the Seton Hill University website.

Join us to make a difference.

Reading with a purpose

reading with a purpose, writing life July 11, 2012

We love to read. Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you love to read. I like to help my friends and be a good person.

It’s even better when I can do those things simultaneously.

My mentor, colleague and friend, Scott, is a great writer. I’ve reviewed his work here before. His wife, my friend Tabby, is in the midst of some serious medical issues and Scott is using his writing to help with those costs.

Please check out this link and go purchase a copy of Droplets.