Tag Archives: Writing

Surprise Surprise!

Well, originally we had MS4, Blood Apocalypse, scheduled to be released in May.  Then we moved it up to April because of the World Horror Con.  Release it early so that we could compile the first four books into one big hardback edition and present it at the WHC in Portland.  Then ACX reared its ugly head and stated that if your book wasn’t under contract by March 12th, it fell under their new terms and conditions.

In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.  Guess what gets released 3/10/2014?

BA mini

If you guessed Monster Squad 4, Blood Apocalypse, then you’d be right!

Beside trying to hurry and get MS4 into the system and beat ACX at their own game, there are other reasons for publishing sooner than originally planned.  As mentioned, we want to compile the first four squad stories into one very large tome…one complete edition with each story re-edited and rechaptered and attached back to back, telling the epic story of the Rise of the Sicarii from start to finish as it was originally intended.  This new hardback edition will be released at the World Horror Convention in Portland and I hope that it will be well received.

Rise of the Sicarii - Heath Stallcup

I know this is a strange new twist for those who have been following the squads since Phoenix.  Usually we plan for a certain date and hold our breath, praying that we can hit close.  Something always seems to come up that throws it off, usually at the last minute.  But this time, not only are we early, we are WAY early.
So, enjoy it.
Because now the real work begins.  Not only do I have to try to promote this, I also have to get MS5 drafted and to Todd for editing.  And MS6 and MS7 and…>sigh<
Merry early Christmas y’all.


Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


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I’m trying something new.  I sort of had to.  I’ve been working on MS5 and it’s been an uphill battle the entire way.  This is unusual for me because the characters had literally come to life previously.  They told their own story.  Even after I had decided that the story was finished and I was moving on to other pastures, snippets of their continuing lives continued to bombard my mind at odd times.  Like, while driving.  Or in the shower.  Or while talking on the phone.  Key scenes of what ‘should happen next’ flooded my mind while I tried to write other stories.  My wife was right (again).  I should have written it down…because now that I’m actually trying to WRITE MS5…blank.  My mind turns into a wasteland and I can literally hear the winds blowing between my ears.  If I close my eyes, I can see tumbleweeds scampering across the dank recesses of my mind.

What to do, what to do??

Start a different book instead, that’s what.  And of course, the ideas start flowing again.
So, for the first time, I’m trying to write two different books at the same time.  Even though Caldera isn’t scheduled to be released until March, I’m working on the followup to it now and it has gotten the creative juices flowing once more.  After sitting at my computer screen and drawing a blank for so long, I’ve found that getting the story down isn’t such a chore.  It’s still slow going since I’m bouncing between two stories now and I’m constantly having to remind myself what occurred in the past, at least the creative juices are flowing again and progress is being made.

As pappy used to say, do what you gotta do to get it done.  If it means writing two stories to get one out, then so be it.

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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


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When Does A Hobby Become a Job?

You know, when I sat down behind my trusty Toughbook and began pounding out what would later become Phoenix, I had no illusions of it ever being read by others.  I pretty much expected my wife to read it, tell it me it was horrible and then I would delete it from my hard drive.  Four installments and two and a half novels later, I still halfway expect her to tell me that my work sucks when she reads the rough drafts, but so far she hasn’t.  There’s still that tiny part of my brain that thinks she’s being kind and sparing my feelings, but…I don’t allow myself to stay there for long.  Nearly three quarters of a million words later and she insists that each new offering is an improvement on the last.

Now, I am approaching a point where my hobby is no longer just a ‘hobby’.  It is quickly becoming a job.  One needs to maintain a presence online in order to promote ones work.  One needs to keep readers informed of upcoming releases and possible events.  One needs to constantly work to improve the quality of the work you put out because now, it’s no longer a ‘hobby’…you’re a published author!  That thought alone can keep you up at nights.

I hear other writers who say that they strive to reach a point where they can quit their day job and write full time.  I think about what they say and the ramifications of their statements.  At what point are they trading one job for another?  When do deadlines and events and promotions become so burdensome that it sucks the fun out of writing?  If you truly love your craft, can anything truly suck the joy from it?  I suppose these are questions that each writer must ask him or herself.  But, the fact remains that what my publisher told me is absolute truth.  The easiest part is writing the story.  Afterward is when the REAL work comes.  Silly me, I thought she was talking about what SHE did!
Boy, was I wrong…

The big question on my mind is still, how do you self promote without becoming a nuisance to others?  Is there a secret to that game?  Is there a right way or a wrong way?  HOW does one go about self-promoting effectively?  Once your hobby becomes a job, these questions take on a whole new level of importance and can raise anxiety levels to new heights.  The rare example of Joe Schmuck pounding out a book, tossing it up on Amazon and it becoming a ‘best-seller’, getting picked up for TV or a movie, then every golden pearl of wit and wisdom they type from then on becoming a best seller is just…well, it’s dadgum rare.  Most books on Amazon sell maybe 50 copies over it’s entire life.  For most authors, that won’t cover the cost of their cover art much less editing.  So…what is a promising author to do?  Turn to the pros, that’s what.  And I’ll cover some of what I’ve learned from the masters of the game in a future post. 

All things considered, I still wouldn’t trade this hobby/job/profession for any other.  I may be quickly approaching my golden years, but I’ve finally decided what I want to be when I grow up!

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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Improving Ourselves

I’ve spent the last few weeks going over previous works, doing a little self-editing.  Cleaning up stories, helping them to flow a little better, smoothing out a few bumps and catching minor errors.  My editor gave me a few hints, tips and tricks…minor things you might think, but time consuming for one to have to go through and correct throughout a 400-550 page tome.  Since it would be a while before he would be addressing them, I took it upon myself to do it.  Along the way, I learned a few more CORRECT ways to do things and applied them as well.

Why would I do this?  Well, I was asked this very question.
“Don’t you have an editor to do that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Why not let him do it then?  That’s his job.”
“Because it helps me to IMPROVE my writing by applying these changes myself.”
You see, if I take what he tells me to heart and apply it myself over the course of four to five novels, maybe some of those lessons will stick.  My end goal isn’t JUST to write more, but to write BETTER.  I want my finished project to be polished.  Finished.  Refined.  As close to perfect as I can produce.  Is this because I consider myself a perfectionist, or do I think I write better than so-and-so?  No.  Not at all.  It’s because I strive to better myself in whatever I do.  My goal is to improve to the point that Todd need only to open the document, run it through his automatic spell-checker and grammar check, and then sit back and READ the story.  I hope to one day improve myself to the point where he feels that his services aren’t needed.  Do I honestly think that day will ever come?  No, of course not.  That is simply a goal to strive toward.  That doesn’t mean the goal is actually attainable.  Nobody is perfect and no matter how much I may improve, I am humble enough to understand that there is ALWAYS room for improvement.  That is why TW Brown is there.  He has my back.  He makes sure that I don’t step in it and track it all over the carpet.

It doesn’t matter what I’m working on, I try to find ways to improve my work.  I’ll give you an example.
Jess and I started making these little wood signs a few years back.  We started with a Dremel tool and would spend countless hours chipping away wood to create these rustic signs with peoples names in them.  Then I got the bright idea to use a router.  It was faster, cleaner, gave a more professional appearance and cut the time we spent on the signs by hours.  The bits were expensive and sometimes the wood would splinter causing us to have to start all over, but, honestly, those were rare.  We mostly made baseball and softball signs for the little leaguers in our area and the kids loved them.  We experimented constantly trying to find ways to improve what we were doing until we found what worked best and then we stuck to it.

Kutter 25Wood Signs 057

I’m a firm believer in ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.  But when it comes to something as creative, yet also technical, as writing…well, there’s always room for ‘fixing it’.

You may ask, have I seen any improvement in my writing?  Well, to be honest, I haven’t seen any improvement since applying what Todd has told me because that was just recently.  I’ve spent my time going back over previous works and making corrections to them.  However, I will say that since Phoenix made it’s debut, I’ve had the opportunity to finish three other Monster Squad novels.  I’ve finished two unrelated novels, each better than the last (if I’m to believe my missus, and she’s never lied to me yet).  I think that with practice, I’m improving.  By applying what Todd has told me, I’m also improving.  Perhaps only technically, but still improving.  Have I reached a point yet where I consider myself a ‘writer’ yet?
Nope.  Not even close.  But I will continue to strive to improve myself with each work that I pass on to be published and hope that you, the reader, will enjoy them more because of it.


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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Uncategorized


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