LAST DAY Goodreads Giveaway FREE BOOKS!

Today is the LAST DAY to enter my Goodreads Giveaway contest. Two signed copies of SONG OF SIMON (Damnation Books 2013) are available. Come on and enter. You’ve not nothing to lose, and might find your new favorite book.

Doge Author likes it. It has to be good.

Craig with book and dog head


cosmic-cat tripping balls redux


5 Myths About The Writing Business

Here is a great article by Chuck Sambuchino titled “5 Mistakes Writers Make (and How To Avoid Them).” The title is a bit of a “bait and switch,” as it’s about the business instead of the craft. Still, it’s something that all writers–indie or traditional–should read.

Its main thrust: YOU GOTTA HUSTLE

It took me a while before I realized this. With the help of my publisher, Damnation Books, we were able to craft an extraordinary novel in Song of Simon. The support I received from them has been excellent. I foolishly believed that the book would sell by itself. That’s far from the truth.

The problem is that there are millions of books out there, and unless you do something to stand out, you’ll disappear. I’ve tried a bunch of promo techniques in the past. What I’ve realized is that if you write about stuff you love, people that love the same will join you (that’s you guys). I love writing about geeky stuff. I assume that you love reading about geeky stuff. I hope that some of you read my fiction, but I don’t get shameless about it.

If I’m going to do this, I’m going to have fun doing this. I’ll even get out my 20-sided dice.

Ooooh a dual Star Wars/D&D meme. Critical Hit!!!

Anyway, I’ll leave you to read the article (if you’d like). If you’d rather geek out with me, you can always contact me.

That reminds me: I have a blog about Dungeons and Dragons coming up sometime this week. D & D is my truest, sexiest love. Ok, not that sexy (it’s more anti-sexy), but I still love it.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist).

Doesn’t Marketing and Promotion Suck?

The answer: It does.

I’ve been trying to improve SEO (search engine optimization) for the site. I added a few links to other writers, and they did the same for me. It’s made a huge difference so far in search engine clicks.

I hate promotions and marketing. I just want to write and let everything else take care of itself. That’s the main reason why I submitted to publishing houses instead of self published. I don’t have the inclination (or the money) to do all the little things a self-published book needs.

Despite the promotion that I get from Damnation Books (my publisher), I still have to do a lot on my own. I’m not good at it, but I found that exchanging links with other bloggers is very time-effective.

For no reason, here’s a cat meme.

I like how his tie matches his eyes. Snappy dresser.

So if you are a writer, contact me if you’d like a link on my site. I can’t promise that I’ll add everyone (i’d prefer speculative or literary fiction, check out the writers I’ve already linked to). The only thing I ask is that if I link you, link me back. Together, we can float above all the crap in this pond.

Also, if you don’t have a website, you should start one.

Go Team Writers.

Like my website? Join my Facebook fan page for more awesomeness (and silly memes). If you like dark fantasy, check out my debut novel Song of Simon. It has no memes, but lots of music references and dick jokes. According to the reviews, Simon is pretty cool. There’s also my FREE webserial, The Watchmage of Old New York, which is at JukePopSerials. You can also find me on Twitter, where I tweet about whatever I feel like (but mostly geeky stuff).

Guest Blog: Author Ross S. Simon

What a treat! Today we have a guest blog from a fantastic author, Ross S. Simon. Simon is the author of The Snow, from Eternal Press, and Red Dhalia, from Damnation Books. He’s a helluva talent. Check out this essay on how his influences helped to hone his craft. All of his pertinent links are at the end of the essay.

Ross S. Simon

Grappling with the culture of horror is about as much a part of my life and career as is absorbing it. There are elements I agree and disagree with; oftentimes a horror author, or “fright-write,” has to put the aspects out of mind that they really hate, or else, at least, mentally transmute these aspects into effective ventilations of their own angst and anxiety—often at real-life negativity—in the form of the writers’ very own expressions of horror in literature.

One of my favorite TV shows to watch in reruns, years ago, was HBO’s “Tales From The Crypt.” Okay, it was the heavily chopped-up-for-basic-cable version, but even so, it still entertained mightily. I saw, in this adapted form, the stories and their surprise resolutions of the slick and powerful caliber that kids in the early 1950s undoubtedly experienced when they were first run in the EC comic books. In “Crypt,” on television, I saw the basic paradigm for the great American short horror story.

The maniacally cackling Crypt-Keeper, with his literally grave-level puns, was also a hoot. And yet, here I look deep enough to see the bad side of horror, somehow: the Keeper puppet was created by Kevin Yeagher, the creature-effects designer who was also behind doll-of-doom Chucky, who happened to be an unbearable icon of dire terror to me while growing up. Chucky seemed to press the exact wrong button of horror in me all these years; this was one horror icon whose invocation in culture always left me not only scared but sad at the same time.

The Crypt Keeper

Here we have exposed the horror aficionado’s weak spot. Being scared stops feeling good; the line is crossed between, if you will, “scary (fun) place to go” and “safe (restful-from-motion) place to go.” When this happens, for just an instant it’s two of the “scary (fun) places to go,” at the same time, and then, forever, it’s one, big, “sad (not-fun-at-all) place to be.” This may sound a bit remedial, but one has to factor in the risk of horror violating the mentality of childhood, in particular during adolescence, which can potentially taint adulthood. With the possible exception of tainted adulthood, this is what happened to me with Chucky: his movies were popular during my adolescence. The timing could not have been worse. The suffering was excruciating.

Still, I’ve parlayed whatever traumas I’ve been handed by horror culture into my own horror work, thus not suffering a total defeat, as I can take expressive chance on displaying to all, in my written endeavors of fright, the worst fear I’ve held in very many years, that I’ve held it for very many years, and which is very real: people.

I’ve believed for the longest time that people are foul, dishonest, lying creatures, never making it clear what they want or what their problem is. Worse yet, everything there is—good, bad, having to do with me, or having to do with them—they blame me for, and only me. I can at least use horrific gods, entities, monsters and supernatural forces as an allegory for the basic essence of people as we know them, if I can’t socialize, and if I’m not allowed by people to express my point of view on certain things. Atrociously enough, despite what our Constitution says, they bar me even from that.

I know that to have the horror culture we do—which is there to entertain in such a way that the horror of real life, in most forms, is more readily approachable—is a blessing to horror authors like me. We all give a lot of original ideas a lot of the time, yet that’s as a result of having horror on the wing. In the culture of fright, there are about equal parts good and bad. In the lives of those like me, there’s a major subject—but only one—of negativity. And then, once one gets around all the horror, there’s only the good stuff. When you get back to being scared for kicks, there’s also a good time.

Shameless Plug

Is this too much?

So yeah, buy my book (Song of Simon, which kicks a lot of ass)

If you want a FREE taste of how awesome my stories are, check out “The Watchmage of Old New York” at JukePop Serials.  It just spent another week at #2 in popularity, with well over 3000 endorsements.  It’s also included in the new JukePop Anthology of the best of the site.

Have a great weekend, I love you all.


How I learned to stop worrying and love the serial

I originally wrote this for the online novel blog, but I felt it was time for a repost

Where I’m Coming From

I’ve been writing professionally (or trying to write professionally) for almost fifteen years, but online serials are still new to me. When I started, the paradigm was print. Literary journals were the way to go, and they were all in paper and only taking the fanciest of the fancy. It was not an easy way to break in.

By the time that mags moved to the Internet, I was already convinced that I was awful and needed to get a real job (“get a real job” being the meanest thing that you can tell a writer), so I missed out on this initial orgy of zine activity. I got into it late, and I got in with reservations. Even now, I miss the scent of newly printed paper…sigh.

The Way We Write Now

It was last autumn. I had just finished my first novel, Song of Simon , over the Summer, and I was looking for a new project. Song of Simon is an intense novel and writing it was emotionally draining. This time I wanted to write something a bit more lighthearted.


I guess I didn’t get out of that novel-writing state of mind. What began as a short story ballooned into a massive 16,000 word novelette, now known as The Watchmage of Old New York. I would’ve given up on it (it’s near impossible to sell something that size, and I have bills to pay), but I was having too much fun exploring the Watchmage world.

watchmage small

So now I was stuck with this albatross of a story hanging around my neck. No mag would have her, certainly no paying mag (I make it a point to only sell to paying mags. That magazines will pay nothing for our work and act like we should be grateful is a crime. But that is a different story).

I use Duotrope to find markets (you should too) and that’s where I found Jukepop Serials. A paying market that takes long stories? Sign me up. It hadn’t occurred to me to serialize Watchmage, but how could I resist?

I was biased against serials, I’m ashamed to say. I was a “professional” and serials were for fan fiction. I was an idiot.

Serials are not a new paradigm, they are the old one. Charles Dickens used to write serials, so did Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I never realized this until I immersed myself into one of my own.

Healthy, Whole Grain, Serial

If I was going to boil serial writing down to three rules (and I will), they would be these:
1)Outline everything
2)Master pacing
3)Keep a healthy buffer

Outline Everything: I believe in doing this for everything you write, even blog posts. But outlines are especially important when you’re writing a serial. Once you post an installment, it’s there forever. I feel that going back to previous entries and changing them is unfair to your readers. Make sure that what goes on that page is exactly what you want.

This includes noting the important aspects about characters, plot, and the world of the story. In Watchmage, I found that I was uncomfortable with some of the main character’s characteristics. Looking back, I would’ve written him differently (which I am doing in the novelized reboot). You can avoid my mistake with preparation.

Outlining doesn’t stop once you start writing. One of my favorite things about writing is all the interesting people, places, and things that naturally pop up as the story goes on. Make sure you add these to your notes. Don’t forget anything, because you never know what’s gonna be important a few story arcs down the line.

That said, don’t make your plot outside too rigid. Think of it more as drawing with dots, and then connecting the dots. As long as you get from plot point to plot point, it doesn’t matter how you got there.

Master Pacing: Reading online is different from reading in print. For some reason, readers will only read a certain amount before they fade out. The big complaint that I have heard is eye strain. Regardless, a good chapter in an online serial is shorter than one in a print book.

I think that 1000-1500 words is a good length for an installment. You should be able to end at the end of a scene or a cliffhanger. Don’t rely too much on either. Cliffhangers keep the reader coming back, but they get old quickly. Think “tension and release.”

The major difference between a serial and a novel is that a serial is ongoing, where a novel has a finite end. This does not, however, mean that a serial is an open-ended mess.

I grew up reading comic books and watching pro wrestling, both of which I still love. Both are great examples of serial structure. A comic might go on for decades, but it’s broken up into story arcs. A story might go on for a few months, reach its conclusion, and then move on to another arc. Wrestling is the same way. Randy Orton might be feuding with Daniel Bryan now, but in a couple of months (after Bryan does the J.O.B…wrestling fans get it) he might feud with Cody Rhodes or Fandango (yes, there is a wrestler called Fandango). This is the way that your serial should be constructed. It provides closure for the reader without ending it.

For example, Watchmage currently has two story arcs. I could easily write more, but I am rebooting it. You could read one arc and be satisfied, or you could keep going. Readers need closure. In other words: don’t get carried away by your own awesomeness.

Keep A Buffer:

Writers will argue about the length, but you should always keep a buffer of at least a few weeks. This means that you have a few weeks’ worth of story written ahead of your installments. For Watchmage, I kept an eight week buffer.

Writing is like starting a hose with your mouth: you have to do a lot of sucking before things flow. The problem is, too many serial writers post those first few sucks before they realize that they don’t fit. This is why I keep a buffer. It gives me a chance to look back and edit my work before posting it. Remember: what has been posted cannot be unposted (ok, maybe it can, but it shouldn’t).

Another reason is because life happens, and sometimes you won’t be able to hit your deadline. The buffer allows you wiggle room for when you get the flu or your dog eats a Cadbury bar.

I hope this little insight into my conversion to serial writing, and the methods to my madness, have helped. If you disagree, that’s fine too. Everyone works differently, don’t be ashamed of your own technique. Be brilliant.

doge in space card redux

Wait…Now Song of Simon is really here!!

Great news! Song of Simon is good to go! You can buy it as an PDF, ePub, MS REader, MOBI Pocket, or Palm at Damnation Books

Or you can buy it for your Kindle here

Print versions are soon to come, but as it is a small press (not as small as many) they will be pricey. I will autograph any print version though. to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, make every piece of art unique.

I am so excited that I might burst…and the Jets won this week too!  What a great last few days!!