Author Archives: Scott Dyson

Sales report

All I can really say is, it’s a good thing I’m a dentist!  Haven’t sold a book or had a short story bought since October 23rd.

I counted, and I have eleven titles out there.  They range in length from the very short (14 pages) SOLE OCCUPANT, which is in Kindle Select and KU, and costs $0.99, to my six-story collection DIE 6, which has 123 pages and is priced at $2.99.  Also there is THE STRIKER FILES 3-in-1 COLLECTION, 93 pages also priced at $2.99, and my non-fiction title (under my real name) DOING DISNEY, which is again priced at $2.99 and contains 101 pages of information about visiting the Florida resorts.  14 DARK WINDOWS is a fourteen-story collection of short “flash” fiction, 63 pages, and is once again priced at $2.99.

What could I do?  Perhaps a full collection of ALL of my short stories, would come in at something around 250 pages (maybe a bit more), and price it at $4.99?  I have five stories in the very early stages of readiness for publication, all need rewriting and editing, but none are ready to go tomorrow.

Anyway, I know I don’t do much to promote the stories.  The only people who have bought them are people who know me through Facebook, for the most part, or knew me from my days at Delphi Internet Service when I helped run the Book and Candle Pub.  I submitted a story to the anthology QUANTUM ZOO with low expectations, but it was one of the twelve that was selected for inclusion, and I’d hoped that perhaps someone would read my story there and decide to check out at least one or two of my other stories, but the problem is that very few of the stories I’ve written and published would excite the QUANTUM ZOO target audience.  So perhaps my efforts for that collection are wasted.

Who knows?  For me, a good story is a good story.  I’ve bought several of my co-authors’ stories but I don’t know if it is working in reverse.  Oh well.  I don’t really NEED the income.  I can just keep writing, and when they’re ready, publishing, and if they catch on, great.  If not, so be it.

As the saying goes, it was worth a try.


Still Pluggin’…

I haven’t posted lately, things have been busy in my life.

I had a procedure/surgery on my right ankle to correct a stress fracture/non-union.  Off my feet for a while, getting around with crutches and a “knee-walker” at the office.  I’ve done some reading, but not much writing.  It’s hard to get momentum when you’re never alone!  At home, I don’t have a good writing computer right now, and have done most of my writing at the office.

Here’s another issue with my writing.  I have done a lot of it using the old WordPerfect program.  Word (on two of our computers at home) will open the files, but one of them is smack dab in the middle of everything, and the other is in my son’s room.  The other computer that had WP installed on it died (think the video card went night night) and so I was using a netbook to write on, but while it has a student version of Word on it that wasn’t activated, I’m not crazy about using it, and paying for Word on it.  And our main computer, the one my older son writes on, is an Apple, with Pages.  I know there are ways to work around it, but it’s not a great situation.  My son uses the Apple for a LOT of school work, and I can’t really use the one in the younger son’s room because of, well, it’s in his ROOM!  I need a new computer, I think, and have been debating what to get – a MacBook (and use Pages, which actually is pretty fun to write on, or a Mac version of Scrivener, which I’ve never used), or a Windows-based computer and buy Scrivener.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that most of my writing is done at work.  Like now.  But there are these things called “patients” and “appointments” that I have to work around, which makes it difficult to get that writing momentum going here as well.

So what am I up to, writing-wise?  Well, a few posts back, I listed four finished first drafts.  There are actually five.  One is my dental mystery, DEATH BY APPOINTMENT.  A second is a novella-length (23k words) story called THE CAVE.  The third is a horror novel with the working title of COLLEGE EVIL, which is about 45k words.  The fourth is another horror novella, tentatively called NEVER ENDING NIGHT, a Richard Laymon inspired, 27k story.  And the fifth is called THE INN, and is also horror, inspired by the stories of William Malmborg (if you like serial killer/psycho horror, Malmborg is really good at writing it).  I think it’s around 28K.

And as for what else I’m working on, my son and I have about 60K words done on a cool YA story called THE NINE KEYS.  We keep working on it, and he envisions, like, at least five books, but I’d be thrilled with getting to the end of this story.  We’ve got a ways to go.  I could see it coming in around 75K, possibly, or a little longer.  I also have two YA/young reader stories, which I won’t mention titles, except to say that one of them involves Arthurian mythology.  Then I’ve been working a bit on a post-apocalyptic thing with no name, just more or less a situation that I’m trying to find the story for.  One of those “everyone’s dead” things.  I have another post-apocalyptic story that I used to call my Pond Lake novel, as it begins in a fictional Wisconsin town with that name.  In this one, I killed off all the adults.  I started this one over twenty years ago, and wrote a bunch of it, but I scrapped most of that and just kept the characters I like best.  (Turns out I like the bad kids’ characters best – they’re the ones whose stories seem to be flowing off my fingers.)  I also have a bunch of chapters of this crazy Vegas story that, if I ever release it, will not be under this pen name.  And last, I have a thing that I call my “Rewot” story.  A weird dimension-hopping story that is influenced in part by Heinlein’s NUMBER OF THE BEAST and King’s DARK TOWER books.

I’m a hopper, when it comes to writing.  I tend to jump to whatever catches my fancy at the moment.  So I might be writing in Pond Lake (and other locales) and then suddenly I’ll decide to go back to the other post-apocalyptic story, or one of the YA projects, or…  Is this a good way to write?  Probably not.  Actually, it’s probably about the worst possible way to write.  How I managed to finish five stories of those lengths is something I wonder about a bunch, but I have done so.  I should probably focus on cleaning them up as much as possible before sending one or two of them to an editor.

But you know what?  I’m going to do whatever I pretty much feel like.  Some day maybe I’ll be a professional, full-time writer.  But right now, I’m a professional full-time (if a bit disabled) dentist.  Dentistry pays the bills and puts money away for college for our family.  Plus, I’m darned good at it.  So I’ll keep up the hobbyist approach for now and who knows?  By the time I’m ready to retire, perhaps I’ll be earning a bit of income from these creative works.


Review of “Your Soul To Take” by Sean Hayden

Just finished this YA offering from Sean Hayden and Untold Press.  Posted this review on Amazon:

I forgot how much I enjoyed the first book in this series (MY SOUL TO KEEP) by Sean Hayden, but I was reminded as I read this one. Sean has a keen sense of story and plot, and everything moved right along about how you’d want it to! I’m giving it five stars because I haven’t had this much pure fun reading a novel in a while (although I’ve read plenty of books I truly enjoyed).

If there’s a quibble, it’s that Connor seems a little too mature in his dealings with his girlfriend and his sister. Sometimes I think he’s missing the 15-year-old attitude a little more than is called for by his, um, condition. But otherwise I think that the other thing that Sean has a good ear for is dialogue, and when you put the two together (story and dialogue) you end up with a pretty darned good book! Enjoyable for young adults and old adults (like me).

That pretty much says it all for me on the book.

Untold Press is Sean’s (and Jen Wylie’s) publishing company, and so far I’ve enjoyed the fiction I’ve read coming out of their small press.  That said, it’s been mostly stuff by Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie.

So go ahead and take a look at it.  Reading it was a lot of fun!


KDP Select and KU

I have never placed any of my works in either of these programs up until now.  But as of today, all of my short stories are enrolled in both of them for the next 90 days.  This means that Amazon Prime members can download any of my short stories as their “borrows” for a particular month, and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can borrow my stories and read them as part of their monthly subscription fee.

The stories are as follows:

  • Sole Occupant (and The Only Solution)
  • Odd Man Out (and The House at the Bend in the Road)
  • Jack’o’lantern (and The Moment and Sarah’s Puppy)
  • The Gateway (and America’s Pastime and Hot Spot)
  • Dead or Alive
  • Night Family
  • Rick’s Rules

If you have either of those services, and want to give my short stories a try, well, here’s your chance to do so for free.  I will take advantage of KDP Select’s program where I can make my short stories free for a couple of days and will post here and on FB when I do so.  Thanks!


Dystopian vs. Post-apocalyptic

Ran across the internet site The Short List, who posted this list of “dystopian novels.”  The list was controversial, omitting plenty of good novels and listing some that were arguable, like THE HUNGER GAMES and ARTICLE 5.  Also it mixed “dystopian” with “post-apocalyptic” novels as if there were no difference.

I think it’s likely that both dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories attract many of the same readers.  I know I am attracted to both.  But is there a difference?  In many comments, it is argued that post-apocalyptic novels are a subset of dystopian fiction, while others argue that the two are separate, closely related perhaps, but both branches occupy the same level of whatever tree one might be making to categorize science fiction.

I have my own “End of the World” list of both types of novels on Amazon on which I tried to stick with “post-apocalyptic” types of novels.  I did not include classic dystopian stories like Orwell’s 1984 or P.K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? because they don’t paint a picture of a society that’s been wiped out by some catastrophe (hence, the “apocalyptic” part of the genre tag).  I stick to stories describing the world after something decimates (not literally; “decimate” means eliminate one of every ten people, I think) human society.  In The Stand, it is disease.  Likewise in Edward W. Robertson’s Breakers novels.  In Hugh Howey’s Wool, it is another form of disease brought on by nano-bots.  In Lucifer’s Hammer by Niven and Pournelle, it is an asteroid hitting the Earth.  In Stephen Baxter’s Ark and Flood, it is a flood of super-biblical proportions that destroys the environment as we know it.  In Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, it’s Ice-9.  (Read the book!  It’s lots of fun!)  In David Brin’s The Postman, it’s nuclear war.  In a bunch of books, it’s zombies!  How do the zombies get created out of your friends and neighbors?  Disease, usually.

I see “dystopian” as being something different.  I see it as a society that’s gone “off track”.  Orwell’s vision is the classic example.  Suzanne Collins paints a dystopian society in her Hunger Games trilogy, and so does Veronica Roth in her Divergent novels.  (Apparently, The Hunger Games is a blatant rip-off of another earlier novel, possibly of Japanese origin, which I’d never heard of…but the knowledgeable commenters knew all about it.)  Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged paints a dystopia of sorts, and apparently so does her novel Anthem.  (I’ve read the first, not the second, and I remain unimpressed with the “philosophy” found in Atlas Shrugged, but that’s just me.)  A lot of current young adult fiction can be categorized as dystopian, especially The Giver.  How about The Maze Runner?  Dystopian, and possibly post-apocalyptic (I haven’t read the follow-ups yet.)  (Oh, and I know The Giver isn’t really current, but my kids were both assigned it for school reading recently, so for me it’s current…)

Anyway, lots of good suggestions for reading were given in the comments, and I plan on checking out a few of them.  There’s something about the current crop of dystopian novels, especially the YA stuff, that grabs me – maybe it’s the attention to social orders as we see them today, and the way that kids relate to one another.  Maybe it’s just that it’s more accessible, with a more modern style of writing.  I don’t know.  But I know for me, it’s sometimes hard to get to the excellent story, because of the style in which an older novel was written.  Earth Abides and On The Beach are both like that for me; so is Brave New World.  Great, if frightening visions of the future, but stylistically, they seem to take more concentration or something, and seem harder to get into, for me at least.

If you have comments about any of this, I’d love to hear them.  (And I really don’t need to hear from the Vuitton Bags or Nike whatever spammers anymore…everything gets caught in the spam filter and I delete it all because I simply don’t have time to check four or five hundred posts…)


Recent reads

I finished three books up over the weekend.  There were some late nights of reading and a lot of in-between patients and even a little at-the-bank reading.

The titles were Huntress Moon and Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff and Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child.  I first came upon the first two after reading an entry on Joe Konrath’s blog a while ago.  I downloaded Huntress Moon when the author was offering it for free, and then it sat on my Kindle for a while.  Finally, looking for something different to start on the Kindle, I jumped into it.

I was really glad I did.  First thing I did after finishing it was to download its sequel.  (A third in the series will be out in October…coming up soon!)  Here’s my Amazon review:

This was one of the better books I’ve read in a while. A perfectly-paced thriller which has great characters and plotting, the author pulled me in and made me want more – lots more. (I already downloaded the sequel, BLOOD MOON.) In this book, Agent Matt Roarke witnesses the apparent murder of one of his undercover field agents, and notices the woman who seemed to cause the death. As he hunts for her, he connects her to two more murders – and the victims seem to be bad people. It builds to an exciting climax, and keeps the reader wondering just who this woman is, and whether she is as evil as the crimes attributed to her seem to indicate, or something else entirely.

This book sat on my Kindle for a long time, and I certainly am glad I finally took the plunge and read it. As usual, it led to another purchase by this author, and I look forward to finding more out about Roarke and “The Huntress”.

I haven’t reviewed GONE TOMORROW yet, but I have to say I did enjoy it quite a lot.  It’s vintage Reacher — well plotted, a building intensity and urgency, and wholly plausible.  Well, plausible in the sense that you could see it happening, maybe not that you buy the Reacher involvement.  That was a pretty strong coincidence, but if you’re reading this type of thriller, you have to accept things like that.  (Gotta get that main character into the action somehow…)  I hit a spot that I couldn’t put it down.  Wanted to pick it back up and find out how it ended.  I’m on to 61 HOURS now.

BLOOD MOON was more of the same from Sokoloff.  Her main character, Roark, decides to try to smoke out the Huntress by investigating the original serial murderer that made her what she has become — the Reaper.  They decide to find a crime that has some similarities, a family homicide (familicide) and pretend that it’s a crime linked to the Reaper.  Trouble is, it quickly becomes apparent that the crime IS actually linked to the Reaper — he’s back and he’s killing again.  He’s gotten a little better, learned a few tricks to disguise his crime scene, but it quickly becomes obvious to the experts what’s going on.

This one was just as tense and exciting as the first book, and I can’t wait to find out where the author goes with the next one.

I’m not going to link to these books; they’re all easy to find on Amazon.  Child’s book was a remaindered hardcover.  There are usually a few remaindered HC’s of his books around.  But they’re all worth reading, especially if you’re a fan of the thriller genre, as I am.


Quantum Zoo is free!

The 12 story anthology QUANTUM ZOO, which contains my story “Playing Man”, is free starting today and going through Saturday!

Free is good, right?

If you haven’t downloaded a copy, grab it now…


Please consider taking a look at my own new release THE STRIKER FILES (which isn’t so new – it’s actually a compilation of three previously released single short stories, all set in the same universe and telling different parts of the same story, with a bonus short story included as well). Here’s that link: THE STRIKER FILES



Works in Progress

And then there were four.

Most of what I’ve published so far is short fiction.  The longest is a three story series, coming in at about 24K words.  The stories are roughly 7K, 8K and 9K, and they’re all about the same story but told from different points.  The longest short story I’ve put out there so far is THE GHOST TRAIN, part of the DIE 6 collection.  It comes in at something over 10K words.

But I’ve been working on longer stories.  And I finished my fourth over the weekend.  This is not to say it’s ready to publish.  It isn’t.  None of the four are.  But the story is complete.

Here are the four:

  • THE CAVE – a horror story about five eighth graders who find a cave in a forest preserve and the cave is something more than just a hole in the ground…  (around 23K words)
  • THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT – when the sun fails to come up for several days in a row, a girl’s familiar street becomes a frightening place to be.  (Around 27K words)
  • DEATH BY APPOINTMENT – a who-dun-it featuring a young dentist as the sleuth.  (around 45K words)
  • COLLEGE EVIL – a college kid researches the nature of good and evil, and starts seeing assaults which are happening on his campus in a very graphic way.  How is that possible?  And they are getting more and more personal… (about 45K words)

Those are all just working titles, obviously.  I’m not great with my titles.  But 45K is short-novel length, right?  I’m thinking of combining THE CAVE and THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT into one novella-collection, then putting the other two out individually.

Look for them sometime after I get them edited…


A tale of two reads – VIRGIN by F. Paul Wilson and LAMB by Christopher Moore

I recently came across LAMB by Christopher Moore in a bookstore in Michigan, and, well…I bought it.  Again.  I’d lent my copy out and it lost its way home.  I’ve read it before; it was my introduction to Moore’s work and I went on to read several more of his titles.  I have liked them all but LAMB remains my favorite.

I also bought a “boxed set” collection of ebooks (6 for $0.99) and the first one in that set was F. Paul Wilson’s VIRGIN.  Wilson is another of my favorite authors; his Repairman Jack saga gave me a lot of exciting reading pleasure.  After reading it, I found out that it was an early work written under a pen name.

The reason I’m writing about both of these is because I read them back-to-back, and both deal with biblical themes.  VIRGIN is sort of DAVINCI CODE meeting grave robbers.  Due to a series of “chance” happenings, an ancient cave is opened up in the deserts in or near Israel, and an ancient scroll is stolen.  When the scroll turns up in the United States, it is determined to be a fake – the ink is only 12 years old, even if the papyrus is 2000 years old.

But the truth of what it says cannot be hidden, apparently, and a priest and a nun go off in search of a religious treasure – the body of Mary, mother of Jesus.  And when they find her, things go off the rails.  It was a fun story that got a little preachy at the end, even if some of the preachiness felt…well – right! – in today’s world.  Seems the remains of Mary have a lot of power over people, and they signal a second coming…

LAMB is a very funny take on the life of Christ, told by his childhood pal and BFF Levi, who is known as Biff.  Biff takes us through the time of Joshua’s (Jesus’) childhood, how they come to be aquainted with Mary Magdalene, and what they do for those years between age 13 and 30 (or so).  (Hint:  It involves those Eastern wise men who came to seek out Joshua when he was born.)  Josh stays pure and on point and in character (for the most part), though he is also a normal kid in many ways.  But Biff is totally a normal kid, a lot like kids of today – interested in girls and…well, girls.  Biff is totally devoted to Josh, and travels with him as a sort of protector and someone who is able to deal with the world as it presents itself to them, on the world’s terms.

Turns out Biff checked out before getting to the end of the story, and is brought back to life by the angel Raziel to tell the story that only he can tell.

I may have found it funnier because, as a Catholic, I got the references.  A lot of bits in this book made me laugh out loud, and parts of this story were touching enough to bring a tear to the eye.  In some ways I wish this wasn’t fiction.

So while both stories get thumbs up from me, LAMB gets the far stronger thumbs-up.  I loved it.  I liked VIRGIN too, but not nearly as much as LAMB.  And now I’m done with reading religious themed books – until I find another, that is.  Or until I decide that a reread of LAMB is in order.