Tag Archives: horror

Recent Reading

I recognize that I haven’t been posting regularly here.  Haven’t had much writing related news to post, and there’s been a lot going on in my personal life.  But here’s a quick update on the reading I’ve done recently.

I read three books by John Everson:  COVENANT, SACRIFICE and REDEMPTION.  It’s a trilogy, and the first introduces us to Joe Kieran, a reporter who has fled the big city (Chicago) to go to a small town where he longs for the type of real reporting he used to do.  When a kid commits suicide, Joe sees the opportunity to investigate, but he is dissuaded by the powers that be in town and at the newspaper.  It seems that the town has some sort of deal with a demon, and the deal requires the sacrifice of some teenagers.  But there’s more to it, and as Joe investigates, he learns what’s really going on.

The next two books feature some of the same characters, but are really different stories.  They talk about an invasion of our Earth by a demonic race.  Lots of violence and sex, maybe too much.  I felt the last was the weakest of the bunch.  These were horror stories, and definitely not for everyone.

I followed up by reading K.D. Kinney’s post-apocalyptic story, HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM:  FIRST SEASON UNDERGROUND.  This was originally released as a serial, but I read the combined edition.  In this one, humans are herded into underground bunkers to avoid the extreme weather.  We learn that man has learned to control the weather, and subsequently turned that control over to an AI.  Now the AI has decided to exterminate humankind, and all that’s left are the people in these bunkers.

This was a very good story and was a take that I haven’t seen or read elsewhere, though I have heard that others have done something similar.  I cared about the main characters almost right away.  I’m looking forward to the second “season.”

Then I finished CHILD OF MINE by V.J. Chambers.  This one was a psychological thriller where a mom (who happens to be retired from the FBI as a profiler) starts to suspect her borderline-autistic son of the killing of some young women.  The evidence seems to mount up as she investigates, and there’s a cop who would like nothing better than to hurt her and won’t stop at doing so through her son.

This one is really good as well.  I had a hard time putting it down, needing to know who the culprit was, if not her son Simon (who I was pretty sure was innocent).  Well written and solidly plotted, I was almost disappointed to reach the end of the story.

So that’s it for now.  I recommend the last two without reservation, and I recommend Everson’s stories for anyone who likes so-called “erotic horror.”

*****

Short Story: THE BAD COP

I wrote this story for a contest back in September of 1996, and found it in my archives a few days ago.  I did a very minimal amount of rewriting but didn’t change too much.  I’d write it differently today, probably, but I don’t think it’s terrible for flash fiction from my earliest days of attempting to write.  If you’d like to read it, click the link at the bottom of the post:

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THE BAD COP

“If you open your mouth again, I’ll have to shut it for you.”  The man in the police uniform spoke in a low voice, intending to intimidate Joe, and the rest of us were too cowed by the badge to interfere.  We all watched silently as Joe backed down.

It wasn’t every day that a cop showed up at a party and started hitting on our female friends.  No one knew what to make of it.  So we had ignored him, for the most part.  After all, cops are the good guys.  We’d just partied on, like he wasn’t there, or like his presence was a normal thing.

But that was before he’d started hitting on Joe’s girlfriend…

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If you’d like to read the rest of this story, please click here:  THE BAD COP

*****

Recent reads

I finished a couple of very good thrillers recently.  First was Steven M. Moore’s GAIA AND THE GOLIATHS. This was the seventh Chen-and-Castilblanco mystery, and it deals with eco-terrorism and murder. It takes the reader from New York to Europe and also involves Moore’s Dutch Interpol agent Bastian van Coevorden on that end. It’s a well-constructed mystery that presents a balanced picture of the world of environmental activism along with several little nods to what’s going on in American politics today (the story is set a short time in the future, I believe).  As I’ve come to expect from Steve Moore, this is a really interesting, thought-provoking read right from the beginning.  Chen and Castilblanco are great characters, too.

The second was Steve Richer’s THE POPE’S SUICIDE.  Like Richer’s THE PRESIDENT KILLED HIS WIFE, this takes an unlikely crime involving a world leader and turns it around this way and that way.  There are many layers of intrigue going on here, and I found it to be a can’t-put-it-down type of book.  When the Pope is found hanging in his shower, suicide is the apparent cause.  But of course it can’t be that simple, not to mention the complications that a Pope’s suicide would cause for the Catholic Church.  Detective Donny Beecher is going through a rough time of his own, marriage falling apart and teen daughter rebelling and getting into some things that Dad wouldn’t approve of.  And he’s assigned as the lead detective for the investigation.  Solid plotting and writing make this a top notch read.  Now I have to go read THE KENNEDY SECRET.

Last, I read CRYSTAL CREEK by William Malmborg.  In this one, a paranormal investigator goes to a small town in Washington State where Bigfoot has been sighted, and a woman has disappeared.  Crystal Creek barely exists anymore, but there is still an inn, a police department, a diner, and a newspaper.  And everyone left in this little town seems to have a secret of some sort.  It’s a great premise and a good story.  If I have a bit of a problem with it, it’s that I didn’t care about the characters too much.  I don’t know why, but they didn’t make me feel that they were worth worrying about.  Everything about the story is well done, and it’s a good, fast read.  (As an aside, is it horror?  A thriller?  Whatever it is, what makes it that?)

So there you have it — three good solid books by indie authors.  Check them out!

*****

Publishing Paralysis

As you may or may not have noticed, I have not published anything…ANYTHING…in 2016.  It’s not for a lack of things to publish.  I currently have four works ready to go.  They are, in no particular order, ODD MAN OUT, RECIPROCAL EVIL, THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT, and finally, DEAD OR ALIVE.  Most are novella-length; RECIPROCAL EVIL is a bit over 50,000 words, while ODD MAN OUT clocks in at about 33,000.  I think that both DEAD OR ALIVE and THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT are around the same length:  approximately 27,000 words.

I have been writing.  I have a YA novel finished called THE SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD:  CIBOLA which is about 53,000 words.  I am about 68,000 words into an untitled end-of-the-world novel which was inspired by Hugh Howey’s WOOL.  I’m working on a longer vampire novel which would follow DEAD OR ALIVE and a horror story set in a fictional town called Addison Falls.  I’ve also been tinkering with a series that I started with my son a couple years ago, called THE NINE KEYS.  The first of that series is basically finished, and it is something around 68,000 to 70,000 words in length.  The second is about 20,000 words at this point and has a long way to go.  I also started a space opera novel but that’s stalled out at around 17,000 words at the moment.

Covers are done for three of the four ready-to-go works, editing and formatting are done for all four.  So what’s the holdup, you might ask (assuming that “you” are reading this and are interested in reading what I’m writing)?

I haven’t been selling much (okay, I really haven’t been selling anything!) and I need to do something different.  One option is to give up.  Or keep doing what I’ve been doing, which involves tossing up my writing, offering it for sale, and having no one actually find any of it.

The second option is to try to form a better foundation.  So far I have only published ebooks and only at Amazon.  So, my foundation is this blog/website, my Amazon author page, and my Facebook page.  I have, like, 64 followers on Facebook.  Not enough.  And depending on Facebook to get the word out is a crapshoot.  When I look at how many people view my posts on my Scott Dyson page there, often it’s like 7, or 13, or at best low 20’s.  So of those 64 people, only a small percentage even SEE my notifications when I publish.  Without paying FB to show the post to more people, I guess that’s about the best one can do there.

I am thinking of doing Instagram, just for my cover photos.  I have thought about taking down my collections and publishing the individual works for free on Wattpad, but after looking around there, I didn’t have much luck finding a lot of stuff I wanted to read.  I went specifically looking for my friend Steve Moore’s work there, and I didn’t find it with their search functions.  So I wonder how effective that will be for what I write.

I try to “network” with other writers as much as possible.  I will promote authors’ works (assuming they are something I like and read) here on these pages, with FB posts, and in any other way that comes up, and I have a few author-friends who have helped me out as well.  But I don’t think our audiences cross over very much, or at least what I write is not necessarily of interest to their audiences.  I read so broadly and across so many genres that I am happy to promote their stuff; even more, I WANT to suggest and recommend good reads to my friends.  I think that maybe if I could network with some horror authors, it would work better.  I have tried with a couple, but they don’t seem interested in reciprocating.

But the biggest thing I want to do is set up a mailing list.  And I don’t really know how to go about it.  I mean, signing up is easy.  And it seems that putting the widget on the website is not a big challenge either.  But most authors I’ve spoken to who use mailing lists effectively offer a free work, and all I have are mobi’s of my works.  I’d certainly be willing to offer one or both of my short story collections, or even one of my novellas, for free as an incentive to sign up for the list, but as I have not used any of the software (Vellum, Sigil, Calibre) that apparently can generate ebooks in various formats, I don’t know how to get these files to give away.

As a mailing list builds, eventually you have a ready-made list of people who are interested in receiving information about your releases, and maybe, just maybe, you can sell enough books upon release to push your work into some sort of visibility on Amazon.    I think that this sounds like the best way to increasing sales and visibility.

I also plan on giving away both of my short story collections (as they’re both in Amazon Kindle Select and in KU) and I want to try a FB experiment, ask some friends if they’d share the links to the free books, see if I can give away a bunch more than I usually do.  Watch this page for announcements about those giveaways, or if you’re a Facebook friend, watch my feeds there.

Anyway, I’m going to try to break the paralysis in the next month or two, and get this stuff out there for anyone and everyone to read.  If anyone is interested, that is…

***

 

ODD MAN OUT – Prologue

(I have three new stories ready to go; I’m just dragging my feet on publishing them because I want to get a few other things in place before I start running them out there.  One is a long version of my short story “Odd Man Out,” which was published as a standalone (with another short story called “The House at the Bend in the Road”) and as part of the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.  What follows is the Prologue of that story, which is novella-length (about 33,000 words, if I recall correctly).  Watch this space or sign up for my soon-to-come mailing list to find out when it is available on Amazon.

ODD MAN OUT

Prologue

Roger Sinclair checked the calendar that hung on the wall over his computer. October nineteenth. Only the nineteenth. It seemed that the thirty-first was taking forever to arrive this year. Time was dragging.

Anticipation had a way of making the passage of time seem very slow.

The Cabin Weekend was approaching, and Roger had big plans for the traditional yearly gathering of his friends.

Friends. That was a laugh. They didn’t like him any more than he liked them. They used him. They always had. Vinnie, Jack and Paul – they hung around with him – no, they let him hang around with them – because he was smart, dependable, and well-off. He made them feel superior – Look at rich, smart, loser Roger, who can’t get a girl and gets shunned by everyone…but us! We’ll take pity on the loser, and we’ll take advantage of his brains and his wealth.

Like the Cabin Weekend. They always went to Roger’s cabin. None of them had cabins. And why spend money on a real vacation when they could just sponge off Roger? Vinnie and Susan, Jack and Nancy, and Paul and whatever hot-looking hosebag he was dating at the moment.

Well, not this year. Paul wasn’t dating a hot-looking hosebag anymore. He was engaged. To Amy Wellington. Amy might be hot, but she was no hosebag. She was the epitome of class. She was the girl of Paul’s dreams, as Paul himself had pointed out.

She was also the girl of Roger’s dreams, but that was beside the point. Paul never cared about what Roger wanted, only what he wanted. He wanted Amy, so of course he ended up with her. That’s how it worked with Paul.

No matter that he had been Roger’s guest at a charity function when he met Amy. Paul had deigned to accompany Roger to the event when Roger’s own date fell through. ‘Fell through’ is sort of misleading. She dumped me on my ass, he remembered. Bitch.

Focus! Roger forced himself to get back on track with his thoughts. This wasn’t about Melissa, the stick-up-her-ass bitch that worked in the IT department of Roger’s family’s company. The point was Paul, and how he met Amy, and how he had practically run Roger over in his zeal to get to her first.

Paul knew that Roger saw her first, that Roger wanted to take a shot with her, but could Paul let him have a chance? No, of course he couldn’t. What Paul wants, Paul gets.

Roger’s fantasy was that Amy would see Paul for what he was and eventually they’d split up. It would be Paul’s fault, of course, and Roger would be there for Amy. He’d be the understanding friend she would need, the shoulder she could cry on, the guy who’d be there for her as she worked through the pain of their broken engagement. Of course it would end Paul’s friendship with Roger, but that was okay. It wasn’t a real friendship, and it had not been one for a long time. Ever since that day at the frat party back in college…

Focus! he told himself again. This isn’t about embarrassment that Paul caused him in college, this is about Amy Wellington. Paul’s fiancee. Roger’s one true love.

And the Cabin Weekend would be the time when things would turn in favor of Roger.

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(To find out what happens at the Cabin Weekend, watch for ODD MAN OUT at Amazon or on these pages…)

Books, books and more books…

Whoa, it’s been almost a month since I posted anything here.

I’ve been writing a little, trying to get my ducks in a row for some sort of concerted effort to release four novellas/novels within a short time.  Working on my post-apocalyptic novel, which is part The Stand and part Wool.  (There are three ways to survive this apocalypse.  1.  Build a shelter.  2.  Be immune to this virus.  3.  Be invited.)    Reworking blurbs for those three novellas and one novel.

But I’ve been reading.

A short time ago, I posted that I’d read, and was impressed with, Ernest Cline’s debut novel, Ready Player One.    I finished his second novel, a mashup of alien movie themes and stories, titled Armada.    I enjoyed it, not quite as much as the debut, but it was still a lot of fun.  Aliens are coming to destroy us, but we’ve known about it for the last forty years and have been preparing for the invasion.  And guess what?  We train our drone pilots by having them play video games.  Does that sound familiar?  Maybe something like The Last Starfighter?  It borrows, or pays homage, to that film along with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Contact and others.  It kept me (and my son) reading once we got into it.

I also picked up another book, one I’ve had sitting on the bookshelves since before Borders closed its doors (it still had the Borders sticker on it) called WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer.  I’ve always enjoyed Sawyer’s works, and this one ended up being really good.  A blind girl with a very specific and rare type of blindness gets an implant which allows the visual signals to be altered and transmitted through the optic nerve, and it also allows her to “see” the World Wide Web.  Through her enhanced awareness of the Web, she becomes aware of something – some entity – lurking in the background of that network, and whatever it is, it’s learning and becoming more aware of itself.  Interesting premise, well-executed, with good characters and a setup for future books.  I may read in in the three book series at some point.

My ebook reading included Fatally Bound by Roger Stelljes, a thriller featuring a couple of too-good-to-be-true sleuths/agents.  I liked it, and it worked on a number of levels as they work the investigation alongside an FBI task force to locate a serial killer who is targeting various women who seem to have no common features or connections between them.  Also I read another installment in Boyd Craven’s The World Burns serial, this the seventh story, titled The World Cowers.  I have come to know and care about his characters and I want to find out where he’s ultimately going with the tale.  Also finished Sleep Tight by Anne Frasier, another serial killer thriller, and also a pretty good read.  And I read Edward W. Robertson’s third Rebel Stars book, titled Ronin.   Enjoyed it quite a bit.  Good space opera.

There are others, but that’s a good summary of some of the books I’ve been reading.

*****

Upcoming releases

I haven’t disappeared…not completely, anyway.

I’ve just been busy.  And when I’ve had time to write, it’s been mostly spent editing three separate works.   And now, all three are very close to being released for Kindle.  Here are the titles:

  • ODD MAN OUT – a 32K novella which is expanded from the short story of the same name
  • NEVER ENDING NIGHT – a 27K horror novella
  • RECIPROCAL EVIL – an almost-50K short horror novel

As I mentioned, ODD MAN OUT started life as an 1800 word short story, released as an ebook combined with the short story HOUSE AT THE BEND IN THE ROAD.  Both stories can also be found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.  I thought that ODD MAN OUT would make a good novella, or at least a much longer short story (sort of how DEAD OR ALIVE, originally a 2400 word short story, became a 7600 word short story on the rewrite).  It ended up coming in at over 30K words, and tells the story of how the main character (not named in the short version, but named Paul in this longer version) comes to be…well, maybe I shouldn’t spoil it.  Suffice it to say that a weekend retreat with college friends doesn’t go the way Paul wants it to when he brings his fiancee for the first time.  His friend Roger wants her, and he’ll go to any extreme lengths to get her.

NEVER ENDING NIGHT was inspired by a Richard Laymon story I read (but can’t recall the title of) where a night goes on and on.  I thought about something like that — what if night never ended in a suburban town?  So I started writing from the POV of a high school girl (age 15) and it started as a diary kept by the girl where she rambles about her friends and her family and about what’s going on in their neighborhood when the sun just doesn’t come out one morning.  Then I interspersed those diary entries through the third person narrative, which alternates between the girl’s POV and some of the neighbors’ POV’s.  Bad things happen when the masks of some people in the neighborhood come off when they believe that some sort of apocalypse is coming and the rule of law has broken down…

The last, RECIPROCAL EVIL, is about a college kid, Chris, who experiences a campus murder as a dream, and is surprised to find out that the dream really happened.  Why is he sharing dreams with some serial killer?  He’s drawn further in when his girlfriend’s roommate disappears.  And when the killer contacts him, he learns some things about his own background, about his family, and about his younger sister, believed to be traveling the world and having the time of her life.  But is that true?  And who is the killer’s next target?

There you have it.  Three soon-to-be-released novellas/novels.  See, I haven’t been completely idle in terms of my writing!

*****

THE INN price increase…

The Inn Cover 4
Today is the last day that THE INN will be priced at $0.99. 

In case you aren’t aware, THE INN is a 37000 word horror novella.  The description from its Amazon blurb:

BAND TRIP TO PERIL…

The Jackson High School Band and student director Kimberly Bouton are making their biennial journey to a music festival in the deep South for fun and educational opportunities. Kim expects to deal with hormonal teenagers, a severe lack of sleep, and long boring bus rides, but the roadside inn where the band stays on their visit hides a sinister secret – and it translates to unimagined horrors for students and teachers alike…

Check into THE INN, where the guests are the entertainment…

Tomorrow it will go up to $1.99.  So if you see this today and you were thinking that you might want to grab it, procrastinate no longer!

My 25000 word novella THE CAVE will remain priced at $0.99, as will all of my short fiction and short fiction collections.

****

About THE INN…

My book THE INN now has 4 reviews (three of which have text), all 5-star ratings.  J. Michael Major, author of ONE MAN’S CASTLE, had this to say about it:

Talk about the band trip from hell! Young and beautiful student teacher Kimberly Bouton rides along with the high school band from Minnesota to Alabama. But one of the stops along the way is an inn where creepy things have started to occur. Miss Bouton and other band members wake up sore and with headaches. Is someone at the inn abusing the women in their sleep? Dyson cleverly weaves a great tale with events in the news that quickly escalate out of control. Filled with twists and turns, you won’t want to put this one down!

(Check out his book, for a good serial killer book that focuses on some interesting issues!)

Another reader identified as “Anne” posted this about the book:

Really enjoyed this short but scary read. Extremely well-written — and difficult to put down. The characters were compelling, and the suspense was thrilling. A perfect story for a night by the fire.

It was nice to hear that a reader thought it was extremely well-written. I try…

And finally, Steven M. Moore, author of too many books to count, including his latest, FAMILY AFFAIRS, wrote this about it on his blog:

Scott Dyson, author (Deadlock Press, 2015).  Is this the longest story I’ve read by Mr. Dyson?  It’s a novella, and there’s a lot of horror, mystery, suspense, and thrills in these few pages.  I loved it, and It’s not a genre I often read (the horror part).  No zombies, vampires, or werewolves (thank God!), just one seemingly ordinary human being doing horrible things to other human beings.  Some scenes reminded me of Hayton’s novel Breathe and Release reviewed here and that real life atrocity with the three girls in Ohio.

The band director, his student teacher (a woman not much older than the students), and the band are on a road trip.  They plan to perform and then spend a day at a nearby amusement park, crashing two nights in the inn.  I can’t say much more without writing spoilers, but I will send out a warning: if you were a member of a high school band, any nostalgia might fly out the window as your read this.  Or, some readers might say, “This is a lot more exciting than our band trips were.”  Mr. Dyson’s writing is fresh and original.  Fans of the genre will enjoy this one. (Rating?  How would you rate the TV show Dexter?)

So there are three very positive reviews of THE INN.  Thanks to those reviewers for taking the time to read and review it!

Here’s another from Mit Sandru, author of the VLAD vampire series and TIME HOLE, among others:

This is another fine novel written by Scott Dyson. While reading I had to remind myself that I wasn’t reading a Stephen King or Dean Koontz horror novel, but and equally well written book by Scott.

I love it! I’ve been compared to King and Koontz! Two of the best ever, in my opinion!

I thought I’d toss some stuff up here about the background of writing THE INN.  I flew through it; the story seemed to write itself.  I went back and added in the material about St. Louis and the store where my main character purchases the flute pendant after the first draft was completed.  I tried to give a little more depth to the parent-chaperones, who were barely mentioned in the first draft.  And I fleshed out a few of the students a bit more in the narrative, making them more than just names that passed by in the story.

The idea to write it came after I finished a book called TEXT MESSAGE by William Malmborg.  In that book, Malmborg describes a college student who loses her younger sister at the mall, and then begins receiving text messages from her sister’s phone telling her to do embarrassing things (mostly of a sexual nature) or bad things will happen to the sister.  When the girl refuses, the bad guy (girl?) texts a photo of the sister with a finger cut off.  So the girl follows instructions to the letter, and…well, it goes on from there.

I thought, after reading it, that I could probably write something similar, and started thinking about storylines.  I thought of a motel or an inn (instead of a school or a mall) where bad things happen, and then I flashed back to a recurring concern I have when I’m in a motel room — that somehow they have surveillance cameras in the rooms.  I mean, how would you know unless you start tearing the room apart?

It so happened that band trips came to mind, and I combined the two things — a band trip to a motel with something of that nature in some of the rooms.  I recalled certain things about my own band trips as a high school student, and about more current band trips and how they are organized, and out came the story.

It ended up being something around 37,000 words, give or take.  After about six months of polishing, getting input from my beta reader, and repolishing, I finally came up with an idea for the cover.  I searched out images that would fit what I was picturing, and I think what I came up with is pretty close to my original idea.

It hasn’t sold well…two copies in October and eleven copies in September, at least at Amazon.com (not sure about the other Amazons in the UK or other countries), but it’s been getting some KU page reads — over a thousand last month and over five hundred so far this month.  My shorter novella THE CAVE (about 25,000 words) has been read in KU a few times as well, although it has only sold one copy in two months.

So that’s the long story behind THE INN.  I’m currently working on a long version of ODD MAN OUT, and am polishing a couple of other things that are done.

Looking forward to getting some more things out.  Till then, try one of my other books!  They’re still all only $0.99, which is a huge bargain.  (THE INN is going to go up to $1.99 soon…)

Oh, and do yourself a service and read FAMILY AFFAIRS, TIME HOLE, and ONE MAN’S CASTLE.  All three are excellent books!

*****

 

THE INN is live!

I finally did it!  THE INN, my 37,000 word horror/suspense/thriller, is live on Amazon!

Take a look at the cover:

The Inn Cover 4

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

BAND TRIP TO PERIL…

The Jackson High School Band and student director Kimberly Bouton are making their biennial journey to a music festival in the deep South for fun and educational opportunities. Kim expects to deal with hormonal teenagers, a severe lack of sleep, and long boring bus rides, but the roadside inn where the band stays on their visit hides a sinister secret – and it translates to unimagined horrors for students and teachers alike…

Check into THE INN, where the guests are the entertainment…

It’s not for everyone.  It’s horror (nothing extreme, but people die and such, like in most horror), and it’s the realistic type of horror, not the supernatural type.  But please take a look if you are so inclined.

!!!!!

*****