This is the first short story in my collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.You can get it in its entirety if you download the free sample for Kindle, but I thought that maybe some people who don't do Amazon or have a Kindle might want to read it. I wrote it a long time ago as a contest entry where the first sentence and six additional words were given and you constructed a story around them. Enjoy!
“All the King’s Horses, and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again!” Grandpa finished the rhyme and closed the book. “Well, Billy, what else would you like to do?”
Billy loved his grandfather. Grandpa always had time for a story, a game, or to simply talk. “I’ll do whatever you want to do, Grandpa.”
* * * * *
You can read the rest of this story by clicking this link or by going to "Stories" on the menu above and choosing "Grandpa."
You can buy 14 DARK WINDOWS at Amazon by clicking this link: 14 DARK WINDOWS
* * * * *
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...
Well, not done exactly, but the story is finished. It needs editing and other such stuff, but I wrote "The End" yesterday at a little over 33K words. It felt good. I knew there was a longer story in there when I started thinking about it, but wasn't sure how much longer. Was I talking about 12K words? 20K words? I was thrilled to find out that it ended up a little over 33K. And I like it. I think it holds together pretty good and tells an interesting story.
I'm going to unpublish the short version sometime very soon, but it will be included at the end of the novella and will still be available in 14 DARK WINDOWS. Look for it in the upcoming months!
It isn't the first time I've given JACK'O'LANTERN (and other stories) away. But it's a Halloween story, and I think it's pretty good. The title story was published on a magazine/blog site called "Friendly Fiction" a few years back, and the site's editor had a go at it, suggesting changes. I made several at that time, and ignored a few that I disagreed with. The result was a fairly tight story. I connected it with two other Holiday stories, THE MOMENT (about a junior high student who finally finds the courage to ask his crush to dance at the school Halloween mixer, through the anonymity of a costume) and SARAH'S PUPPY (where a little girl hears the barking of a puppy that she's hoping she'll get for Christmas and meets a bearded stranger by the tree in her living room), because all of them feature younger children and holidays, even though only the title story is horror.
So, for Halloween, I decided to give it away again. What the heck? I thought. Maybe someone will like the stories enough to buy the collection that it's also a part of, 14 DARK WINDOWS. (No one did.) But I also put in sample chapters of both of my $0.99 novellas, THE INN and THE CAVE. My hope is that someone will read the three short stories, read the sample chapters and be interested enough to check out the novellas. Maybe realize that they're bargain basement priced at $0.99, and will buy one or both.
As it turns out, I did sell one copy of THE INN during the giveaway. Whether it was because of the short story giveaway, who knows?
All in all, I gave away something like 33 copies of the collection, which is back up to $0.99 today. Would I buy it myself for $0.99? No. I'd spend that same $0.99 and buy the collection mentioned above. I clearly state as the first line in the story trio's description that it is part of that collection and that the collection also costs only $0.99.
The pattern was something like this: Thursday, 8 free copies were downloaded, with virtually no promotion besides mentioning it on Facebook. And I think the downloads occurred before I even made the Facebook post. On Friday, 6 free copies. Saturday, only 1 copy was downloaded. I posted pictures later on Friday of my own pumpkin carvings on my Scott Dyson page, with another link to the giveaway title. On Sunday the number went back up to 5 free downloads.
Then on Monday, I thought to mention it on Goodreads, in a group I lurk within called Horror Afficionados. As a direct result of that mention, 13 more copies were downloaded. More to the point, they were downloaded by people who like horror, if I can safely assume that those who read the post in the promotion topic on the bulletin board. I can only hope that they get around to reading them and like the sample chapters enough to try my novellas.
So the promotion is done for now.
I've been thinking about a topic for a post soon about how I personally rank the elements of a novel when I'm reading it. Still thinking about how to organize it.
Till then, have a great day.
Yesterday I was reading blog entries on The Passive Voice, on Joe Konrath's blog and some Hugh Howey thoughts, and I thought, "Wow! Why am I not in KDP Select?"
So why wasn't I?
I put my short stories in KDP Select when I wanted to give some of them away several months ago. But I never put my longer collections and my novella into it. My reasoning was that I was going to move to publish the works with other platforms, like B&N, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. I was thinking that maybe Draft2Digital was the way to go, but I wasn't sure.
I never did any of that. Honestly, I can't see myself putting in the work to do so at this time. Maybe if I was seeing income worth talking about, I could justify putting in the time. But right now, I can't.
So, I placed everything into KDP Select. My novella, THE CAVE, costs $0.99 to buy, but can be borrowed in Kindle Unlimited or through Prime. My short story collections, DIE 6, 14 DARK WINDOWS, andTHE STRIKER FILES, are all currently priced at $0.99, and all can be borrowed via KU or through Prime. And my four short stories (all of which are found in 14 DARK WINDOWS as well), are also priced at $0.99, and all are part of KU and Prime.
Here's what one reviewer said about my short storyODD MAN OUT:
A pair of creepy tales, well written if on the short side. Worth a read, especially via Kindle Unlimited. I'll be checking out the collection that includes these. EC, Amazon review.
Another review about the same says:
The book is two short word pictures of atmospheric horror. They both nicely evoke a feeling of creepy dread, and in the case of the House At the Bend In the Road, mystery. Worth a read! Scott R. Turner, Amazon review.
(ODD MAN OUT is available as a standalone short story or as part of the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.)
Anyway, there it is. I'm all in on KDP Select for now. Grab 'em or borrow them. They're not pricey. I think they're good reads, but of course I would think that, since I wrote them. But a few others think the same. Don't let others do your thinking for you; check them out yourself...
I have reduced the prices of everything I have published to $0.99! Is that good news or bad? That remains to be seen, I suppose. If the lowered prices result in any sales at all, it's great news! If not, well, then, it isn't any different from what's going on now.
The truth is, until the 13th of May, I hadn't seen a sale in over a month. One of my short stories, "Night Family," was purchased on that day and has not been returned. The last three before that had been returned. Why? Because whoever downloaded them was disappointed that they were too short? Or because they realized that they'd already read them as a part of either 14 Dark Windows or The Striker Files.
I've redone the descriptions in a very minor way, making the first line an indicator that the stories are contained in larger collections, also costing $0.99. Hopefully that will help. Also it will hopefully take away the "being upset at the length" factor, even though every one of them clearly shows the number of pages AND I state the length of the short stories in the blurb.
So now everything is $0.99, including the 25K novella THE CAVE which will be out very soon. The short stories are also in KDP Select, so they can be downloaded as a KU borrow or used as a "Prime" borrow in a given month.
Although you can see all the titles by clicking on the "Books" menu tab above, here they are:
14 DARK WINDOWSDIE 6THE STRIKER FILES 3-in-1 CollectionSOLE OCCUPANT (two short stories)
ODD MAN OUT (two short stories)
JACK'O'LANTERN(three short stories)
THE GATEWAY (three short stories)
DEAD OR ALIVE (a Striker Files short story)
NIGHT FAMILY (a Striker Files short story)
RICK'S RULES (a Striker Files short story)
And that's all of them. Except for THE CAVE, which isn't live yet on Amazon.
Oh, yeah. Did I mention that they're all $0.99? They literally can't get cheaper as long as they're exclusive to Amazon...
Take a look, assuming anyone sees this post.
My post from yesterday talked about what scared me, and I promised that I'd write something about why I write what I write, which is mostly horror. The short answer is that it's what comes out when I start writing. So there.
There's gotta be a longer answer, right?
Well, let's see. I write horror because I think it's fun to imagine scary scenarios. There's usually a morality play at work in such stories; even if they glorify gore and torture, there's a good-vs.-evil thing going on. You the reader root for the good guy (usually).
I cut my fiction teeth on mysteries when I was small. All mysteries seem to me to be "small horror" stories in a way. Something bad has happened. The mystery is who did it, or why. Sometimes it's a puzzle story about the act of figuring things out. Think of thrillers. Murders, terrorists, evil government agencies, disappearances, bombs, plane crashes -- all these things can be elements of a horror novel. But the focus is on the good guy solving the problem, not so much on the victim.
I remember a mystery I read when I was younger titled THE BLACK SPANIEL MYSTERY (or something close to that). I remember that these puppies were disappearing. Or rather, they were being replaced. But one of the kids noticed that the markings of the puppy were not the same as the markings on the original puppy. Why? I can remember feeling for those puppies, as well as for the kids who were hurt by the puppies' disappearance. That the kids took it upon themselves to solve the puzzle made it a mystery. But what if the puppies were being stolen just to hurt the kids? Or they were going to do a "Cruella DeVil" on them and skin them for their lovely fur pelts? That's horror, no?
Further, I moved on to science fiction. Asimov and Heinlein were my two main sources of entertainment for a long time (considering how many books both of them wrote, you can well imagine that getting through their catalogs took a few years...). Again, we had mysteries, even in something like FOUNDATION, where the whole book is basically a search for the Second Foundation. Along the way there is The Mule, a mutant who can rule the universe with his advanced mental powers. That's sort of scary, isn't it? He's almost an alien in those books, and here he is taking over the human race. Admittedly, Asimov's emphasis doesn't focus on any horrific elements, so it remains firmly in the SF realm.
Then finally, I found Stephen King. Now here was horror. We had a psychic girl going destructo on her high school prom, we had vampires taking over a town, we had the ghosts of evil in a big hotel recruiting the caretaker and convincing him to murder his snowbound family, we had a psychic who sees the end of the world in a politician's handshake and acts to stop it, we had a virus which kills off 99.4% (or something like that) of the population of the U.S., setting up an epic battle between good and evil. We had ghosts, we had aliens, we had monsters, we had zombies from a pet cemetery...all manners of horror. All done with style.
I didn't really read horror to be reading horror for a long time. I just read authors. Dan Simmons wrote some horror (Summer of Night, Carrion Comfort). Robert McCammon did, too. So did Orson Scott Card (Lost Boys) and Dean Koontz. Finally I found authors who wrote nothing except for horror. Richard Laymon, Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, Phil Rickman, Melanie Tem, Nancy Holder, Poppy Z. Brite... So many names, so many scary stories. The tales varied. Some were gross and bloody, some were moody and ephemeral.
I wanted to write science fiction, but nothing I wrote seemed to really work all that well. Although I have a science background (chemistry major, lots of health sciences in dental school, and interest in the space program dating to my childhood, so I always took in information about the goings-on in science), my stories never seemed really plausible to me. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe I knew enough to know that what I was thinking wasn't really going to work, but not enough to figure out a way to make it believable. Anyway, as big of a fan of SF as I am, I've only written three short stories that are more or less in the realm of SF.
Everything I write seems to always come back to either the supernatural, or to something evil. I've liked that in short stories I can sometimes have the bad guys win (see my short story GARAGE SALE which is found in THE STRIKER FILES 3-In-1 COLLECTION, or my story THE FUN HOUSE in DIE 6). I like going in that direction with my stories. It seems natural to me.
I like stories about characters. I believe that most horror, at least most entertaining (to me) horror, is character-centric. If you don't care about the victims, then you won't care much about their story. And there is always a very important struggle between good and evil, between right and wrong. To me, that's the cool part of a story in the horror genre -- it's the "good will rise over evil" aspect, the fact that while not everyone might live through this evil, in the end, somehow, the good characters will triumph. Perhaps it will be at a steep cost, perhaps their lives, or the lives of their loved ones. Sacrifices have to be made. That's a good story right there, in my opinion. It's a universal story; one that can be adapted across genres. Maybe all, or most, good stories have it at their core, somehow.
Recently I read a book called SEASICK by Iain Rob Wright. In the book a troubled cop on holiday finds that he's reliving a day over and over and over and over and... well, you get the picture. It turns out (SPOILER ALERT, though I think that even if you know the end, you can probably read the book and enjoy it because it's a pretty fun read) that there is a killer virus on the ship, released by terrorists, and when the ship reaches the dock, it's going to infect the port, and the world, and everyone's gonna die. How is the cop going to get out of this?
Is this a thriller or a horror novel? Well, the virus turns people into some sort of zombies, so that makes it horror. But...terrorists...a plot to release a virus...a hero cop...thriller, right? But, a sorcerer who is causing the day to repeat for this cop until he gets it right...back to horror... But...
You see what I mean. A good horror novel can be a good thriller. It just has supernatural aspects, and doesn't shy away from depicting the bad stuff that happens, even if it happens more or less "off camera."
I like writing character-driven stories. I think that most of my stories start with the characters and move on from there. I don't know if I succeed. Read something I've written (all short stories, until THE CAVE goes live sometime this weekend, then I'll have a novella in the mix as well) and come back and tell me what you think. It happens that most of my stories end up being horror in some way, but they're mostly just stories.
One of the best horror series I've read in recent years is F. Paul Wilson's "Repairman Jack" series. Why is it so good? Because Jack is facing off as the champion of a supernatural entity, and opposing another, more involved supernatural entity, but the horrors are a mix of real-life horror and horror caused in an unbelievable way by something supernatural. Because Jack is fighting for himself as a sort of every-man, and his family, and even for people he doesn't know but shares humanity with. Because in the end you just have to know what's happening, how it's going to resolve, and what will become of Jack and Gia and Vicky and Abe and others.
It is a character-driven series, in my view, and they are the type of books I love to read, and aspire to write.
Anyway, that's a long answer as to why I write horror. Mostly it's because those are the kind of stories that I make up. Lot of words to get back to that short answer. Sorry!
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.
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