Author Archives: Scott Dyson

Linear vs Non-Linear Storytelling

(This is cross-posted from The Gates of Anthology blog)

So I’m going to start out by admitting that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m using the terms “linear” and “non-linear” in a specific way, to describe certain observations I make about stories I’ve read. I’m also using them to talk about my own writing, my successes and failures as a writer, and what I try to do to make it better.

“America’s Pastime,” my entry into the Gates of Chaos anthology, was very much a linear tale when it was written. I wrote it in the 1990’s for a contest that was called “The Publican Brief.” (The contest name was a mashup of a popular John Grisham novel and the name of the Delphi forum that I helped to run.) We were given six words and an opening sentence for this particular contest. Some of the contests only gave the six words. Some gave opening sentences. Some gave a topic. I recall that this one was both because I remember the opening sentence: “All things are found in the blood.”

I constructed a story around those words, and if you’ve read the anthology, you know the basic tale. All that mattered was what happened in the story. Nothing else. It was linear. It told the story of this ballplayer sliding into second base, getting spiked in the leg and having his calf ripped open, and passing out. When he comes around, he finds that he is surrounded by monsters. And he’s going to have to fight his way out. As he begins to be overwhelmed by the monsters, he again loses consciousness, and wakes up laying at second base with players and coaches looking down at him in a concerned manner. I used the six words and the opening sentence and constructed a story around them. (I recall that one of the words/phrases was “confederacy of the dead” and I think it’s still in the story.)

It’s hard to not be linear in a short story. You don’t have the word count to fill in the back story of your character/s. Still, I tried to add non-linear elements in the rewritten, anthology version of “America’s Pastime.” I gave my main character a bit of history. Now he’s a rookie, in camp during Covid, and he has to stay. Why does he have to stay in Arizona? That’s the bit of non-linear element that I was able to add. He can’t go home because he lives with his grandparents, and they’re elderly and susceptible to contracting a disease which was, at the time of the story (March of 2020), putting a lot of people in the hospital and on ventilators. So my character decides he’s better off staying in Arizona by himself.

And who wouldn’t want to stay in Arizona, anyway, in the spring? Have you ever been there? I have. It’s beautiful. The desert is beginning to bloom and it’s cool enough to enjoy the outdoors. And there’s tons of baseball!

Our anthology has examples of both types of storytelling. There is a lot of linear storytelling (A->B->C) but there are also neat little bits of non-linear elements in some of the stories. BT Noonan’s outstanding opening tale, “The Tunnel,” takes us back and forth in time in the mind of a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. I think it makes this story one of the finest in the entire anthology. Chris Stenson’s “Two Bobbies” has its roots going back into the main character’s past experiences to talk about the current horror he faces. Florence Ann Marlowe’s story “Dancing With The Dead” takes us into a horrific future by telling us what has come to pass in the recent past.

I recently read a book by Howard Odentz, called Bloody Bloody Apple, which uses non-linear storytelling brilliantly. In that work, Odentz takes us through the current horror his three main characters are living through by showing us the history of both the main characters and the town of Apple itself. It made me think about my own stories in much more depth. Where did I use this sort of effect in my novellas?

My story Odd Man Out does a nice job of weaving non-linear elements into the narrative (if I do say so myself). In that story, Roger Sinclair is plotting to off his “best friend” Paul Wagner, who he believes stole the love of his life. How did this come to pass? Read the story and find out! Here’s the link to it: ODD MAN OUT.

I reveal the reasons through Roger’s, Paul’s and Amy’s memories of the night in question. The slightly dark nature of the “Cabin Weekend” also comes into focus as we learn more about the main characters through the non-linear elements of the novella.

Do you, dear reader, have any thoughts about non-linear storytelliing versus linear storytelling? If so, please feel free to leave a comment!

THE GATES OF CHAOS is LIVE!

For the past several months, I’ve been involved in putting together an anthology of horror stories written by writers in the Horror Writers’ Net group here on Facebook. It’s been a learning experience, with a few hitches (an author withdrew two stories with only a week or so to go, for one) but in general it’s been a mostly positive experience as well. There are eighteen stories from fourteen different authors, including me. I also wrote an introduction and the acknowledgements section.

Today, the ebook went live for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited! The collection is titled THE GATES OF CHAOS: Stories Written During The Pandemic. Currently it is priced at $2.99 and every story is accompanied by a custom pen-and-ink illustration by artist Will Jacques.

My own story is titled “America’s Pastime” and a version of it was previously published in my 14 DARK WINDOWS collection. This version has been rewritten to take into consideration the pandemic. Remember last spring, when we thought this was going to be a short thing? That baseball would be back in a month or so? When we’d get a nice little vacation from work and things would go back to normal? Well, how must it have been for those players? What did they think?

Please take a look on Amazon!

On Dreams and Dreaming

Dreams can be weird. We all know this, right? This isn’t news. Dreams jump from one place to another, people act strangely and out of character, and objects can be different and frustrating. The stories we experience in our dreams rarely hold together logically, at least in my experience.

I had a dream this morning. I woke up right before a guy in the dream punched me in the face. So much of it didn’t make sense, so of course I thought I’d document it here.

I was at Wrigley Field when I realized that my phone wasn’t working, because it wasn’t my phone! First I had to try to find MY phone. Did I lose it? Did I leave it at home? How would I find out, without a phone? So I “borrowed” a phone from the guys who were sitting behind me, called my office, where my mother-in-law answered, but of course it’s not my office, she’s at my house with my wife. My wife calls my phone and locates it by my son’s room. Why was I back there? Why was his room “back there?” (I have no idea.)

So now it’s “what to do” with the phone I have, which doesn’t work. It’s in the pocket of my sweat pants (I rarely wear sweat pants and certainly wouldn’t wear them to Wrigley Field). It starts buzzing but stops before I can answer it. Then the phone’s owner is somehow standing right in front of me. I give him his phone back, but he’s mad because I picked it up mistakenly from a counter where he set it down. “Where?” I ask. He won’t answer; instead, he demands money. Why? I gave him the phone back. If anything, I tell him, he should give me money for finding it and returning it. He doesn’t like that idea much, and before he attacks me, I wake up.

Strange things about the dream:

Our seats. They are tiered, but they face OUT of the stadium, and are quite obstructed-view – I can hardly see the game.

The number I give the guy to call. It was almost my second line at the office, and almost my fax number. It is off by one number from each.

Why was I at a baseball game? Before that, in the ‘foggier’ part of the dream, I was at work, referring a patient’s daughter so she could play soccer at high school. (???)

In the few minutes that this phone stuff all happened, the game progressed four innings. I looked around the pole to see the score and it was 10-0, Cubs losing. Three in the first, one in the second, two in the third, and three in the bottom of the fourth with the opponent still batting. And that was strange, too — the Cubs were the home team but they had batted first?

The guys behind me were wearing masks, but no one else was. They would not give me their phone to dial, but dialed it for me. (That’s how I remembered the number I gave them so exactly.) When he handed me the phone to talk, he’d wrapped it in some sort of cloth sleeve so it wouldn’t touch my face or hand while I was talking on it.

The phone I had wouldn’t do anything for me. I couldn’t even shut it off or power it down. It continued to play odd videos which seemed to switch often.

Some people dream of stories. I have had that experience twice. I dreamed once of a psychic (I think mostly it was someone else, but sometimes the guy was me or I was experiencing what he was as he went through it). This guy owed money to a loan shark or something, and needed to contact the ghost of an old bank robber to find out where he’d hidden the money he’d stolen. That dream ended up becoming a 5K short story. (It is in my collection DIE 6, and is called “Blood Ties.”)

The second time was for a short story called “Garage Sale.” That started life as part of a dream where we were hosting a garage sale disappeared from view and we were certain she’d somehow slipped past my wife and entered our house. (That story is in the current version of the three-short-story collection called THE STRIKER FILES.)

Is there a point to this post? Not really, beyond the creativity that the mind can show during our dream-filled sleep. It won’t usually lead to anything that is cohesive, but maybe, just maybe, it provides tidbits for our conscious creativity.

It’s A Wrap!

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time. I wanted to do a sort of “best of 2020” post with the books, movies and music I finally read, saw and heard. But I didn’t keep a list of books, so I really don’t remember what I read. Or listened to. Or watched.

2020 was a bad year for new movies. I love me some blockbusters, you know? But COVID-19 pretty much killed the theater business last year, and it remains to be seen if it is able to come back or not. Instead we spent our money on Disney Plus, and we were already paying for Prime. My son gets Hulu with his college Spotify package, and Peacock and HBO Max came with our cable package. So we watched at home. Disney released two Pixar movies, ONWARD and SOUL, and both were available in 2020 from the streaming service. Both were good; SOUL was definitely the better of the two, but both entertained. They also released MULAN direct to streaming with something called “Premium Access.” Odd that they didn’t do that with SOUL. I would have paid extra to see it immediately (we watched it when it was released on Christmas Day) but I didn’t want to see MULAN so much that I’d pay a premium for it.

We also watched WONDER WOMAN 1984 on HBO Max on Christmas Day, and I’m glad I didn’t have to pay extra for that one either. It just wasn’t that good. I finally watched the series “The Boys” on Prime, and we went through the two seasons of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.” Both were kind of superhero-ish, but neither was a Marvel- or DC-like story. I’m hooked on both.

I don’t really remember a single book standing out in 2020. I read a lot, mostly on Kindle, but a handful in hardcover and paperback as well. I’ll have to pay better attention in 2021. I continued to read Ray Garton, John Everson, Jeff Strand, Duncan Ralston, Howard Odentz, Russell C. Connor, and Bryan Smith. Found a new author: Bella Dean Joyner. And I continued to read outside of the horror genre, especially Steven M. Moore’s latest works in both his Esther Brookstone series and his Penny Castro series. Many of those books were very good (Odentz’s book WHAT WE KILL jumps out in my memory) but there wasn’t that “one” book that said, “this is THE book of 2020.”

Music was interesting. My son has Spotify, and he introduced me to a bunch of cool bands that I would never have known about. I won’t remember all the names here, but the ones that stand out for me are Lawrence, a R&B combo from NYC, and Jukebox The Ghost, a power pop band. I also liked The Happy Fits and a few others. Of course, old standby Paul McCartney released his album MC CARTNEY III at the end of the year. Mixed bag on it. I recognize the songwriting skill and the musical skill, but there are only a few songs (so far) that make me want to listen to them multiple times.

One more thing I want to mention on my year-end wrap. I started watching some YouTube channels. This was new to me. I thought it was all gamers streaming Minecraft or whatever they’re playing at the moment. But there is some great programming. They make you laugh and sometimes teach you something. One film guy I’ve enjoyed is Patrick (H) Willems. He’s a nerdy fan of the big blockbusters like Marvel and such, but he knows filmmaking and his video essays have given me new ways to look at films and movies I enjoyed. Another is Mr. Beast, who makes videos about giving away tons of money. He’s philanthropic at times and entertaining at others. Often the two (philanthropy and entertainment) intersect. The last one I want to mention is Mark Rober, an ex-NASA engineer who does interesting and educational videos about all sorts of science-type stuff. Rober was part of the team that landed Curiosity on Mars, and some of his engineering creations for his videos are quite ingenious (and funny). But others were inspirational. I really like watching him.

So that’s it for 2020. As they say in the movies, “That’s A Wrap!”

Writing Sequels

I was perusing forum posts in a writing group on Facebook today when the question came up: should a writer consider writing a sequel to one of his stories? My response was that series books sell, and if your characters have more stories to tell about them, why not tell them?

I’ve written a bunch of stories over the years. Some, like ODD MAN OUT, started out as short stories and then morphed into a novella. Some, like DEAD OR ALIVE, morphed into a longer short story and spawned two more short stories. But most were not conceived as series stories. They all started off life as one-offs.

But recently some of those characters called out to me. In some cases, it was simply a loose end, left purposely at the end of the story (as is often done in horror stories; nothing can have a completely happy ending), which called out for resolution. Some were just interesting characters (to me, at least) and their worlds allowed for more stories. Some just seemed like they needed another chapter, something that wasn’t part of the original series. And one was a minor character in a novel who then became a character in a second novel.

First, let me talk about Rick Striker. If you’ve looked at THE STRIKER FILES (only $0.99 on Amazon!) you know that Rick is a private detective who is working on the case of a missing girl. (Spoilers for those stories follow.) The end of the trio of Striker Files stories leaves Rick in a different state of being, so to speak, and living in a new community. But I liked Rick and I liked his supporting characters, and I liked their world, so I imagined what would happen due to Rick’s actions in those three stories. And that became a novel. I haven’t titled it yet, but it’s complete for all intents and purposes.

So then I wrote another. I set the second (or third, if you count the three short stories as one) in Paris. For this one I had to do a little bit of research. My search led me to Biblical stories and creation mythology. So of course, I tried to work that stuff into the story, and came out with something that was fun and satisfying.

But lo and behold, Rick’s story wasn’t finished. I began a third (fourth?) story and am about 7000 words into it. I think this is the final story of the “series” of stories that didn’t start out to be a series at all.

Next, there is ODD MAN OUT. It may be the story I am most proud of. And one day I started thinking about those characters, Paul and Amy, Roger and Laura Walden, and the others. In the novella, Paul and Amy are engaged. So as their wedding date approaches, it would seem natural that things might go awry, considering how things are left in the first one.

So I started writing what happens next with these characters. And a story started to build out of it; I am about 6000 words into it, and eventually I’ll get back to it.

A third thing arose out of my first and only novel, RECIPROCAL EVIL. As with most of my stories, a happily-ever-after ending can’t just be left that way. But I really had no plans to ever continue that story.

And really, I’m NOT continuing that story. I had another story I was working on, and it wasn’t going anywhere. But suddenly I realized that it was set on the same college campus that RECIPROCAL EVIL occurred on. (How could it not? I was basing both on my own college.) And I always wanted to write more with Detective Thomas Chavez, the cop who investigates events in RE. Chavez becomes the same sort of supporting character in this new untitled story, and it even ties into the ending of RE without much of a rewrite. How cool is that?

Finally, I wrote and finished a short novel that I call FULL MOON, but that’s just a working title (I think). Bad things happen in this story of about 52K words. I finished it up with some of my characters getting away and crossing the country in search of safe haven, but of course I couldn’t make all end well for them. So they’re back in the FULL MOON town and other bad things are happening. Different bad things, but definitely bad things that were foreshadowed in the original story. I’m about 24000 words into this one. I don’t believe it will end up crossing that 50K threshold, but who knows? The first FULL MOON was about 10K shy when I first finished it, and then another 10K went into a few added characters and scenes. This could grow like that as well.

So what’s the plan with all these “sequels?” I’m thinking of packaging my novellas into a single volume, sort of a Stephen King thing like FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT or DIFFERENT SEASONS, and releasing them in a paper version. I’m thinking of doing the same thing with ODD MAN OUT and ODD MAN OUT 2, neither of which is currently long enough to justify its own paper edition. Then the FULL MOON books might get the same treatment, depending on the length of the second one. Finally, the Striker novels will remain standing alone for the foreseeable future.

As an aside, my Addison Falls novel is still percolating, though currently it’s on the back burner. I haven’t released anything since 2018, so my hope is to finish a lot of stuff at the same time and start putting them out one after another. I tried to do this with RECIPROCAL EVIL, THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT, and ODD MAN OUT in 2018, but while I sold some ebooks, I didn’t get any kind of momentum from the succession of releases. We also have this anthology for the Horror Writers’ Net coming out in early 2020; I’m an editor and contributor for that volume. Can’t wait to see how that one ends up.

So back to the original question. Should we write sequels? I’d say it all depends on the story and the characters. Do these guys and gals deserve more stories to be told about them? Are they interesting enough to carry more stories? If so, then why not? There’s a certain richness about these things. The possibilities open before you as you write even more easily than they do for stand-alone type of stories. I started out writing short stories, and only a couple of those have called out to me wanting their own longer tales. But when they call me, I try to listen.

New Reviews for THE CAVE and RECIPROCAL EVIL

I am pleased to link to two reviews of my ebooks THE CAVE and RECIPROCAL EVIL. Author Bella Dean Joyner read both of them and gave them thoughtful and positive reviews here:

Book Review: Scott Dyson works Reciprocal Evil and The Cave

I was especially happy about this quote:

“The monster, as I stated before, is unlike anything I had encountered with any other story in this genre.”

I tried for something original, and was pleased to see that Ms. Joyner recognized it as such.

Give the review a read, and while you’re there, please look at Ms. Joyner’s own novel, THE STILL. I’ve read it and I recommend it wholeheartedly. Here’s a blurb:

A malevolent spirit condemns a man to madness and grips a once peaceful town in terror.

Haunted by disembodied voices, Deric can no longer differentiate between hallucinations and reality. Something sinister lives in his house, distorting his perceptions and controlling his consciousness.

In the grasp of a darkness that he cannot subdue or escape, he seeks vengeance on the residents of the sleepy mountain town, each murder more sickening than the last.

As Sheriff Haines gets closer to discovering the truth behind the mutilated bodies piling up in Edelleen, Deric begins to unravel and the dark figure lurking in the shadows of the still starts to take on a life of its own.

But with a failing marriage and exposed affair sending his personal life and career spiraling, will Sheriff Haines be able to put his personal conflicts aside in time to stop the killings? Or will Deric lose the battle between conscience and horror, unleashing unabated evil onto Edelleen?

A fast-paced, gripping psychological horror. If you are a fan of Stephen King or Dean Koontz, this is right up your alley.

My two books:

Thanks to Bella Dean Joyner for the excellent reviews!

My story is in a new anthology!

I wrote a short story that I called “The Grillmaster” and which was released today in the anthology I JUST WANTED TO GRILL. The story is only 1300 words and the anthology only contains four stories (37 pages). The price is $0.99.

There’s a bit of a backstory to my own tale. Back in the 1990’s I was part of a couple of Delphi forums, one called the Book and Candle Pub, the other called the Horror Discussion Group. Both forums were dedicated to reading and writing horror.

One of the participants of both forums was a talented writer named “Vinnie.” Vinnie wrote a story called “The Butcher” for a contest, though I don’t remember which forum it was posted in. I was reminded of the children’s rhyme about the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. So I wrote one called “The Baker.” Vinnie followed up with one about a candlestick maker, though he didn’t call it that. Vinnie has since passed away, killed too young in a motorcycle accident.

When J.C. Deadman put out a call for a flash fiction story themed around “grilling” (I’m assuming it was related to the July 4th holiday, since that’s when this all went down), I started thinking about the short story I wrote back then. What if that serial killer lived somewhere and got ticked off about a neighbor’s party? And what if he didn’t want to have his M.O. tied to someplace so close to home?

You want to know what happens, give it a read. I JUST WANTED TO GRILL is only $0.99 on Amazon as an ebook.

And there you have it. A new Scott Dyson short story!

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Which story should I write?

I have so many stories started, many in various stages of completion. I don’t know what to do. So I decided to run a little poll here on the blog.

If you think I should write a certain story, you vote by buying a copy of the ebook that will count for that story. The link to the ebook will appear at the end of each description.

First: I’m working on a series of novels about a detective who becomes a vampire. I call it the Striker Files. The first novel is set after the events of the three short stories (already published) and describes a battle between rival vampire factions, and it is more or less complete. The second novel is set in France and pits my MC against something that’s more than a vampire, someone bent on destroying all the vampires who exist. It’s also more or less complete. The third is a work in progress. It is set back in the States and pits our hero vampires against the antagonists of both the first and second novels. When it is done, I’ll publish all three works. If you think I should work on this one, vote by buying THE STRIKER FILES: 3 in 1 Collection. (It costs $0.99.)

Second, I finished (but haven’t published) a novel about the moon striking the Earth, and about the bad things that people do when unfettered by the rule of law. I started a second novel with those same characters, in that same town, and someone is grabbing survivors of the disaster for their own nefarious purposes. My original group gets split up and they need to rescue Dr. Jessica Stewart from whatever has happened to her. After I finish this one, I’ll try to publish both of these in rapid succession. If this one interests you, then go ahead and buy a copy of THE CAVE. (It also costs $0.99.)

These next two are both post-apocalyptic and both have to do with pandemics. The first is a story about an engineered disease that kills adults and leaves kids approximately 18 and under to fend for themselves. I actually started writing this in the early 1990’s (or maybe even late 1980’s). It started off set in a fictional town in Wisconsin called Pond Lake. But as I started working on it again, I felt like I needed more. So I wrote four separate stories, the original Pond Lake story, a story set in Rochester, Minnesota (home of the Mayo Clinic), one set on the North Side of Chicago, and one set on the South Side of Chicago. The stories are starting to converge and the work is in the 60-70K range right now with a lot more to go. If this is the one you think I should keep working on, buy a copy of THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT. (Also $0.99.)

The second is a story that was inspired by Hugh Howey’s WOOL. If you haven’t read those stories, they’re about a nanomachine that’s released around the world, and has a timer as to when they will become lethal to those who are infected with them. The people who did this have selected certain folks as survivors and sequestered them in “Silos,” vertical dwellings that are underground. There are fifty such silos and Howey’s series is set around what happens in them as the plot is revealed.

I wanted to write something based in his world (Mr. Howey had graciously opened the world for others to write stories in), but I didn’t want to write about the silos. I wanted to write about potential survivors elsewhere in the country who were not in the silos. When I realized that this wasn’t going to work, I decided instead to just continue the story I was writing. I made it another biological thing, with a small percentage of survivors. It’s an engineered disease again, with very few survivors. When I lost my way, I incorporated another story I’d been working on into the narrative (sort of like McCartney and Lennon combining two songs to make one). The first part follows a group of college engineering students as they attempt to build a shelter to survive the release of the disease, which they know about because of leaks and such. The second part goes to the shelters where the people who were behind the whole thing were waiting things out, waiting to emerge and repopulate a world built in their own image. The third follows one of the immune survivors as he makes his way to try to find his daughter. If you think I should continue working on this one, buy my story ODD MAN OUT. ($2.99.)

I’ve told some people about Addison Falls, the shared world that was created by Alan Mietlowski back in the 1990’s when we were all online at Delphi Internet Services. Alan compiled a list of locations, stories and characters that we could all use to create new characters. A few others were added as we wrote our stories in Addison Falls. I felt that I should set a novel in the Falls, and so I began writing the story of a teacher who is concerned about a missing student, and his investigation leads him to discover the weird and dark underbelly of the town. Teamed up with a pretty reporter for the local newspaper, he tries to discover the reason that not just one but several students have gone missing over the past year, as well as why few of the townfolk seem to care much about it. If you think I should write this one, buy a copy of THE INN. ($2.99.)

I had a dream. In this dream, I was at a retreat with some other authors (none of whom I’ve ever met in real life). I don’t remember much of the dream, but when I woke up, I had this idea to write a novel or novella about this scenario. So I made a list of my horror authors who’d be attending, and correlated them to some real life authors, none who I know much about — just what they post on Facebook and such. So I’m inventing personalities based on their FB personalities. What sort of bad things are going to happen at this retreat in the middle of nowhere? I don’t know yet. But if you want to know, vote for this project by buying my book RECIPROCAL EVIL ($2.99).

Okay, and finally, science fiction (ish). A few years ago, when they announced that THE FORCE AWAKENS was coming to the theaters, I thought, what a great time to write some space opera! So I started one. Got quite a few words into it, then went back and rewrote the entire beginning of the story. Also threw out some of what I was doing and where I was going with it. The idea is that there is a code to the further evolution of humankind that is found — somewhere — in our galaxy. I have a princess of sorts — actually an empress — who a space junker finds when he salvages a derelict spacecraft. And she’s running away from a rebellion that threatens her back in her own galaxy. And in my view, humans are ubiquitous around the universe. Someone has “seeded” their DNA throughout the galaxies. But they aren’t alone, at least in other galaxies besides the one where the empress is from. I like the ideas I have for this, but I haven’t gotten very far. (Maybe I need a cowriter.) And I also gravitate toward horror thrillers. So in order to get me to write this one, you have to buy two (short story collection) books. Don’t worry; both are $0.99. Here’s the links: 14 DARK WINDOWS and DIE 6.

Obviously I’m sort of joking here. First, no one is probably reading this (my blog isn’t exactly a destination blog). Second, I’m gonna write whether anyone buys anything or not. But it would be nice to sell a few copies, too. Third, if you really were interested in one of the story ideas I described over another, you could just leave a comment and tell me.

But if I check my Amazon sales in the next few days and see that 100 copies of THE INN were sold, you can bet I’m going to finish up that Addison Falls story!

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So what’s new?

Nothing.

Oh, you thought I was going to stop there? Nah. I’ll keep writing and hopefully make it sort of interesting, though nothing is really happening at the moment.

We’re back to work. That means that I’m getting very little writing done. But I did start a new novel with my Odd Man Out characters. I needed another project to work on like I need the cliche’d hole in my head. But there it is. So — currently under construction, there is Odd Man Out 2, Striker 4, Kiddie PA adventure, adult-y PA adventure, Moon Hits the Earth 2, Addison Falls, and college horror.

The other thing I’ve been working on a little is this Blue Sky Theme Park book. I used to write a blog called Disney Fan Ramblings (still do, once in a while), and I made several posts about imagineering my own theme park. So I went back, collected them, rewrote them, and am expanding on them. I recently received THEME PARK DESIGN by David Younger for Father’s Day, and it gave me a lot to think about and to write about specifically with respect to my own ideas for a theme park/resort development in the upper Midwest. It’s fun. I may never publish it, but who knows? Maybe Theme Park Press will want it.

We watched the last couple of Mission Impossible movies and found them to be a lot of fun! Also I watched TRAIN TO BUSAN, a Japanese zombie movie that was really well done. I forced my kids to watch THE SIXTH SENSE with me, and they enjoyed that one as well. My son has me watching SCRUBS with him. I never watched it when it was on TV, but it’s pretty entertaining.

I’ve been fighting the good fight with respect to wearing masks. I post off and on about it on Facebook. Bottom line: Don’t be selfish, wear a mask. It will help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Also, be selfish and wear a mask, if you want things to return to normal and not have to close back up because of overwhelming the health care system.

I have some time right now, so I’m gonna try to write a bit. Sayonara.

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COVID-19 and Creating

As you may know, I am a health care provider. I own a dental practice and am responsible for the care of a couple thousand people, and the livelihood of five more, including myself. We’ve been shut down during this pandemic; we will reopen soon but we are at the mercy of our supplies of PPE (that’s personal protective equipment, if you don’t know by now). Masks, especially, are hard to come by, as are some surface disinfectants like Lysol spray. At first we couldn’t find hand sanitizer, liquid soap, paper towels, any type of surface disinfectant, alcohol, and even hydrogen peroxide. Now, some of those things are more available. Not like pre-Covid-19 levels, but we can get them, sometimes at inflated prices.

Anyway, that’s only there to point out that there are many distractions from being creative, and this pandemic has provided even more. When we first closed, I felt good. I didn’t think we’d be closed long, and I was able to get some needed rest and concentrate on writing. But since my last post, which was approximately 6 weeks ago, I’ve accomplished very little on the writing front. I think about the stories I have going. I’ve been concentrating mostly on two novel-length projects. The first is that Addison Falls novel that you can read about in my previous post if you’d like. The second is a third (or fourth, if you count the prequel short story volume) in the vampire detective series. I was inspired to start on that one after re-reading LIVE GIRLS by Ray Garton, and then following it up with his NIGHT LIFE story (featuring some of the same characters) and LOT LIZARDS, both of which exist in the same universe. I wanted a different “vibe” to the story and Garton’s works provided me with a glimpse of the neon-y cheap strip club vibe that I think might make it work better.

I haven’t had a lot of ideas for NEW works beyond the stuff I already have going. As we prepare to get back to work at our office, I hope to reduce the distractions and stress levels associated with continuing on in this pandemic. It’s probably wishful thinking, but hey, gotta hope for the best, right?